The science of fighting a fire

The science of fighting a fire

POSTED: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 5:45pm

UPDATED: Friday, July 19, 2013 - 5:52pm

There's more to extinguishing a flame than using just water. We've seen our fair share of rainfall over the past couple of days -- but firefighters are saying that's not enough to lift the burn ban here in El Paso County. We got an up close look at how firefighters use knowledge and technology to fight flames and keep El Pasoans safe.

Water is an important element it extinguishes fires and allows for growth.

"Be careful, again the grass is growing. The burn ban is still in effect so just because we got a little bit of rain does not mean the burn ban has been lifted,” Assistant Chief Boyd Smith told us.

That grass can lead to fire and flames need three elements in order to survive – fuel, heat, and oxygen. Take away any one of these three and you'll see the flames begin to die down. But there's more to fighting fire than just water. "Of course water is the basic fire suppression agent we use,” Smith said.

On Friday, NewsChannel 9’s Kay Recede spent the day with the West Valley Fire Department and found out how and what they use to extinguish a fire.

"But there's also some additives we can use to help the capabilities of water,” Assistant Chief Boyd Smith said they can also use foam to quell the flames."[It] Breaks up the surface tension of the water to allow it to actually seep into the fuels themselves."

They also use a thermal imagery camera which helps them maneuver their way through a dark room,"We can get a good reading of how that building is laid out. How that room is laid out, we can look for victims right away,” Smith explained.

But to really get a feel for the heat of a fire, fire gear and brave face on, Kay Recede ventured into the building with the assistant chief and a fire department candidate.

"When you go into the department first you have to go through a period of six months that's where you train, you're learning the basic stuff of firefighting,” Mariana Grejada, a Fire Department Candidate said, "You just learn to keep calm whenever you're in a situation where most people wouldn't be calm. That's our job."

In any case of emergency, call 911.

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