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Overview

For longer than recorded history, fire has been a source of comfort and catastrophe for the human race. Fire is rapid, self-sustaining oxidation process accompanied by the evolution of heat and light in varying intensities. Fire is believed to be based on three elements being present: fuel, heat and oxidizer. Fire disasters can occur above the ground (in tall buildings and on planes), on the ground, and below the ground (in mines). Sometimes they occur in circumstances that are unexpected or unpredictable. Firestorms can be natural or human generated.
All fire incidents can be divided in many ways depending on the cause of fire outbreak, but broadly there are two types of fires, one is natural and other is manmade. Forest fires can be either due to natural or manmade reasons. All residential and non-residential structural fires are largely manmade. Similarly, all industrial and chemical fires are due to explosions or fires made by humans or due to machine failures.
Fire is a very good servant, but, a very bad master. As long as fire is under our control, it serves a lot of useful purposes for us, but, once it goes out of our control, it can create a lot of destruction. However, despite the presence of fire safety measures, the occurrence of accidents is oftentimes inevitable. It is this combination (of good servant and bad master),
which is dangerous. Because of the useful purposes that it serves, people keep sources of fire in/around their houses/workplace. And, these sources could sometimes result in "undesired" fire. Had fire been something, which serves no useful purpose – the number of incidents of fire would have been very less – as people wont keep sources of fire around them. Thus, the occurrence of fire-related accidents is oftentimes inevitable - inspite of all the safety precautions. For this reason, an insurance policy should always be taken.

Natural Fires
Fires which are considered as natural are basically earthquake, volcanic eruption and lightning - generated fires. The fire and explosion risk associated with an earthquake is a very complex issue. Compared with ordinary (normal) fires the fire and explosion hazard related to
earthquakes can constitute a substantial and heavy risk. Damage to natural gas systems during an earthquake is a major cause of large fires. Again probably the most significant direct impact of power systems on fire following an earthquake is that electric power is a major fire ignition source. In addition to dropped distribution lines, power circuits in damaged houses are another major ignition source. There have been cases where as many as two-thirds of all ignitions after an earthquake has been attributable to power system.

Manmade Fires
Fire caused by human/machine errors are considered as manmade fires, e.g. industrial or chemical fire disasters, fires at social gatherings due to Electrical short circuit fires, accidental fire and kitchen-fires. Rural and urban residential and non-residential structural fires are also largely manmade fires. Any confined fire could be due to many reasons like, cooking fire confined to container, chimney or fuel fire confined to chimney, incinerator overload or malfunction, fuel burner/boiler malfunction, and trash fire. Fire accidents are result of human negligence and failure to observe certain basic and common precautions. electric wiring is open in the house.
List Of Major Work Place Fire Hazards:
  • Flammable chemicals: found in laboratories, shops, art studios, maintenance activities (painting, cleaning, auto repair…) engines, boilers and other heating appliances.
  • Processes involving open flame: Welding, brazing and similar operations, cooking, smoking, and some lab operations.
  • Heat producing devices: Drying (both in the laundries and laboratories), cooking, heat producing devices such as hot plates and space heaters
  • Use and disposal of chemicals: Experiments in labs, hazardous waste handling, oily rags in art studios, and shops.
  • Electrical equipment: Short circuits and malfunctioning equipment.

Causal/Contributing Factors
Casual factors include heat source, equipments involved in the ignition, item first ignited, and factors contributing to ignition. These factors describe what, how and why some form of heat ignited the specific material involved. Causes include:
  • Cooking/heating equipment
  • Intentional
  • Electrical
  • Open flame or ember
  • Appliance, tool or air conditioning
  • Child playing
  • Other heat source
  • Natural causes: earthquake, volcanic eruption and lightening
  • Other equipment
  • Smoking material
  • Contributing factors

Principal factors contributing to fires across the globe include:

  • Wood shingle / thatched roofs
  • High wind
  • Congested access
  • Inadequate water distribution system
  • Lack of exposure protection
  • Inadequate public protection (i.e. fire department inadequacies)
  • Unusual hot or dry weather conditions
  • Delay in discovery of fire
  • Inadequate personal fire protection
  • Delay in raining the alarm

West Bengal Fire Service

West Bengal Fire Service is the state owned service that attends fire/rescue calls throughout the Indian state of West Bengal, including the city of Kolkata. The service consists of 95 fire stations, 7500 Fire Force with over 350 fire appliances. Fire Service in West Bengal is the oldest Fire Service in the country. Calcutta Fire Brigade and Bengal Fire Service were amalgamated in 1950 to form the organisation. Fire Service Act was enacted in 1950 and amended in 1996 with inclusion of fire prevention and Fire Safety Rules. 103 fire stations are in operation. About 8000 Fire Force with over 350 fire appliances are in service
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