July 5th 2022
Fire is among those few natural resources that have been with us since ancient times. However, it can also be said that human beings evolved from fire. We might be any different from modern-day chimpanzees or bonobo monkeys without fire. We have been reliant on fire for heat and light for ages.
However, our dependency on fire is reduced significantly in the modern era, especially in the urban areas. But, we still aren’t independent of it. There are hundreds of deaths every year due to fire as it can start anywhere without warning. You have fire as long as you have decent fuel, enough heat, and some oxygen. Add a bit of wind, and you get a fire that spreads wildly. It is also because of these characters that no one can predict when a fire occurs.
When all of these reasons, i.e., fear, uncertainty, and lack of understanding, are combined, it gives birth to some weird fire safety myths. While many of these myths are practically harmless, some of them can lead you to your doom.
We are not the Myth busters or debunkers of the theories. However, we do have a highly qualified team of fire safety experts. Therefore we have the qualifications to say which myths are valid and which ones are not. That said, you should know a bit about some of these myths. As a bonus, we have included a fun fact that sounds like a myth but is not.
Before that, let's debunk some fire safety myths. Let's get started!
This is a famous fire safety myth that is entirely wrong. Fire Alarms usually do not sound on their own - someone needs to press the alarm button first. Even if the alarm is attached to the fire detection system and smoke detectors, it will not sound before the fire. As it is said, where there is fire, there is smoke and the best a fire alarm can do is sound the alarm as soon as the smoke detector detects traces of smoke or the heat from the fire triggers the system. This means that you need to leave the building and take necessary precautions as soon as the alarm sounds. By the time the alarm sounds, the fire has already done some damage, enough to trigger the alarm. It should be noted that although some smoke detectors get triggered by the smoke from a cigarette, they are relatively rare. So if your fire alarm is on, a fire has already started.
This is a famous fire safety myth that is entirely wrong. Fire Alarms usually do not sound on their own - someone needs to press the alarm button first. Even if the alarm is attached to the fire detection system and smoke detectors, it will not sound before the fire. As it is said, where there is fire, there is smoke and the best a fire alarm can do is sound the alarm as soon as the smoke detector detects traces of smoke or the heat from the fire triggers the system.
This means that you need to leave the building and take necessary precautions as soon as the alarm sounds. By the time the alarm sounds, the fire has already done some damage, enough to trigger the alarm. It should be noted that although some smoke detectors get triggered by the smoke from a cigarette, they are relatively rare. So if your fire alarm is on, a fire has already started.
If you are here, you probably know about the different classes of fire extinguishers and why they exist. But if you don't, then here is the myth and the truth behind it.
The myth is that all fire extinguishers are the same. Regardless of the cause of fire and the material caught on fire, all fires are the same, therefore, every fire extinguisher works the same way. However, if you know fire, you should also know that this is not the truth. Depending on the cause and material caught on fire, the method to put out the fire differs.
For instance, people generally know that hot oil and water don't mix. Therefore, it should be evident that you should not use a water-based fire extinguisher in an oil-based fire. Similarly, it would be foolish to use dry powder-based fire extinguishers in cooking fires. The powder will absorb the oil and enhance the fire instead.
The point is that different types of flames have their separate classes of fire extinguishers. If you want to know in detail about the types of fires and more, we have covered this in our articles about fire extinguishers in Nepal.
Do people panic during fires? Definitely! But does everybody panic during a fire? No!
This is simply a composition fallacy. Just because some people panic during a fire, it doesn't mean that everybody panics during a fire. Yes, some people panic during fires. However, a lot of people act with calmness and make logical decisions. A lot of us are really good at risk assessments, although we don’t really feel confident in doing so. If not, most of us would not be alive now.
Our survival instinct kicks in during critical situations such as a fire, and we do everything we need to do to survive. This is perfect if we are alone or with a few people. However, should a fire occur in a place with many people, panic spreads quickly. That said, if there is even a single person willing to take the lead, more people will be calm than not.
This myth is about how the general individual reacts, not how everybody reacts. A thorough guidance is enough to provide us with correct risk assessments and render this myth ineffective.
Although this myth does make sense in theory, it doesn't work as theorized. The fact is more people die from smoke than from fires. Although it may sound ironic, it is a fact. Why?
While fires do cause harm, it doesn't reach every area of the building. However, smoke does. Unless the material is weird, just about everything that burns releases smoke. If you are directly in the location of the fire, you will be at the risk of being burnt. However, you can easily suffocate to death even if you are not, which is a much more likely case.
Remember that smoke contains highly toxic gases like carbon monoxide and soot. Breathing in too much of this toxic smoke will result in choking, suffocation, disorientation, and carbon poisoning that can easily knock you out. A knocked-out person is as good as dead in a fire. Unless you get rescued immediately; your chances of making it out alive decreases by a wide margin.
Therefore, you should always cover your face with an air filter should you ever be stuck in a fire. After that, calm down and find the best exit. You may or may not directly need to face the fire, but you will definitely need to face the smoke.
This is not exactly a myth but not the complete truth either. Although, we do understand where this myth stemmed from.
In general, you are instructed to refill your fire extinguisher every ten years, even if you have not used it. So you would naturally think that fire extinguishers have a shelf life of exactly ten years. In actuality, fire extinguishers can last a lot longer than ten years. Most of the agents in fire extinguishers are inert chemicals/ agents that do not change unless they are exposed to fire or external stimulants.
We and other organizations that deal with fire extinguishers give you a time estimate of 10 years because of the risks from the canister. While the agents last longer than ten years, the canisters may face leaks, dents, and other forms of physical deformity. This can lead to a loss in quality and quantity of the fire extinguishing agents, leading to unforeseen disasters.
If you take your fire extinguishers for regular maintenance, most of the types can easily last for more than a decade. If you are looking for a place to refill fire extinguisher in Nepal, please do let us know.
This myth falls into the grey zone between true and false. Yes, newer buildings are technically safer from fire. However, the fire safety of a building mostly depends on the fire safety measures taken during and after construction. This includes proper planning of electrical circuits, ventilations, kitchen placement, decor materials, etc. Along with this, the availability of proper fire protection systems like fire sprinkler systems is also a crucial factor.
While it is true that many newer buildings do follow proper safety standards, some don't. It all depends on having the proper fire protection systems.
Therefore, this myth is half-truth and half-false.
Image Source: Firerescue1
This is not a myth but a fun fact we talked about at the start.
The first fire extinguishers were operated with gun powder. This was back in the 18th century when a fire extinguisher design was patented by a person named Ambrose Godfrey. This design was relatively simple and was similar to muskets two centuries earlier. There were two chambers per his design, one for the extinguishing agent and one for the gunpowder. The powder was stuffed inside one chamber and connected with a system of fuses. The fuses were ignited and exploded to build the pressure inside the chamber and scatter the extinguishing agent solution.
While this was inefficient, it did prevent the fire in a London shop in 1729. That aside, it did inspire modern fire extinguishing design. The principles still remain virtually the same; using pressure to release the agents forcefully.
In any natural disaster, the first thing you should do is learn how to remain calm. After this, you should follow the safety procedures. Besides this, it is also important to know the facts rather than believing in the myths. Knowing how to separate the facts from myths can mean the difference between having a safe life and a potential disaster. We hope you found this helpful. If you did, do let us know in the comments below. Contact us if you have any queries regarding fire safety or need the best and affordable fire extinguishers in Nepal. And as always, thank you for reading till the end.
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