The Fire reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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For other uses see fire (disambiguation).
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Small open fire

Fire is a rapid, self-sustaining oxidation process of combustible gases ejected from a fuel. It starts by subjecting the fuel to heat or another energy source, e.g. a match or lighter, and is sustained by the further release of heat energy. Controlling fire was one of humankind's first great achievements and made possible migration to colder climes which otherwise would have remained out of reach for colonization.

Fires and burning have often been used in religious sacrifices, as the smoke of the fire disperses into the heavens. Fire is one of the four classical elements, as well as one of the five Chinese elements.

The burning of wood is often the first association to the word fire, and trees have since ancient times supplied much of the energy needed by humans. In the past, metal smelting and charcoal production consumed large quantities of wood for their production. Nowadays, large scale energy is usually not produced by fires of burning wood, but has been replaced by hydrocarbon oil and coal, and in some cases nuclear energy or renewable energy sources. Wood burning remains a heat source in many third world countries and where other sources of energy are unavailable.

The glow of a flame is somewhat complex, due to a mix of blackbody radiation emitted from soot, gas, and fuel particles (though the soot particles are too small to behave like perfect blackbodies), and from photon emission by de-excited atoms and molecules in the gases. Much of the radiation is emitted in the visible and infrared bands. The color depends on temperature for the blackbody radiation, and chemical makeup for the emission spectra.

The Fire Tetrahedron

There are four elements that maintain the combustion process, and the absence of any one of them will prevent a fire.

If an uncontrolled fire is underway, the removal of these elements is the job of firefighters. Fire safety engineers provide fire departments and building designers with technical information about the best ways to remove enough of these four elements from modern buildings and industries in order to prevent fires. These recommendations are usually developed into Goverment standards and codes, like the National Fire Code, which have drastically reduced the incidence of serious building fires since they were introduced over 400 years ago.

See also:Fire Disaster, bonfire, campfire, flint and steel fire, List of historic fires, fire hydrant, smoking, backdraft, flashover, fire eater

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