Fire: Friend and Foe

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Fire: Friend and Foe helps us to know how to control a fire. We learn about ancient people's existence with fire. The tutorial also discloses the good sides of fire along with its harmful nature. We will understand the causes behind the untamed flame.

We also learn methods to extinguish a fire safely. The ancient idea of firefighting is still there in the modern infrastructure of the fire brigades. And we know more details about firefighters in this tutorial.

What is the significance of the title?

The title Fire: Friend and Foe is about fire's good and bad attributes. If we let the fire take control of things, it is the worst enemy. The cruel nature of fire is the reason for many deaths every year. The title is significant as it is about different attributes of fire, both as a friend and a foe.


The fire is both friend and enemy. The ancient human did not know the use of fire. But they got an introduction to the damaging potential of it. The volcanoes and lightning in the sky were examples long before ancient humans started using fire for daily activities.

Carbon and hydrogen create a fire if these come into contact with oxygen. Heat and light are released while a fire is generated. We must remember that fuel, heat and oxygen are mandatory to generate a fire. Wood, petrol, coal, cooking gas etc. can work as fuels. The source of oxygen is air. The existence of heat is equally important, like oxygen and fuel. For example, heating a piece of wood before catching a fire accelerates the process. When an object reaches a specific temperature to catch fire, it is called flashpoint or kindling temperature.

Fire is a dangerous thing if it gets control of everything around it. So, we can consider it as a dangerous master and good servant. We use fire to cook, generate electrical supply or warm houses. In contrast, there are many instances where we see the monstrous nature of fire. Every year lots of people get injured and even die for this reason. Many shops, houses and even forests get damaged by the untamed spread of fire.

There are three ways to put out a fire. In each process, we need to omit one of the things fuel, oxygen and heat to extinguish the fire. The fire stops spreading when there is no more fuel. It stops due to a lack of oxygen supply, like smothering it with a damp blanket or sack. We can also do it using carbon dioxide as a fire extinguisher. The last method to extinguish the fire is to bring the temperature of the fuel down the flashpoint.

For example, a burning candle or matchstick can be extinguished with a simple blow of air. In the same way, sprinkles of water on fire disrupt the oxygen supply to the flame.

Spraying water on the flame works in some cases to extinguish the fire safely. But there are some exceptional cases. Oil fire is like that. So if you spray water on it, the oil will help to burn the fire while floating on water. A flow of water carrying flames on the top can be devastating. Moreover, fires on the electrical appliances cannot be put out with water. The person spraying water may die or get an electric shock. Here the carbon dioxide fire extinguisher works best. Every year we spend millions of money on extinguishing the fire. It is expensive to fight against the fire and find effective ways to extinguish and control it. But now we have learnt how to bring it under control along with ways to use it in our daily life.

There were no firemen in ancient times, and everyone had to play the firefighter's role each time fire broke out. Human chains were effective for carrying and passing buckets of water collected from natural water bodies like ponds or wells. Thus, they used to extinguish the fire with the effort of all. Even now, we follow this rule. Many construction rules are created to maintain space between buildings to ensure fire-related safety and public security. Now we have fire brigades who are highly skilled and trained groups of people that work effectively to extinguish a fire. They carry various tools and help put out fires by spraying water or cutting electric supplies as needed. They are also trained to destroy constructions like walls to help people and stop the spread of fire. They carry first aid supplies to provide essential medical attention to injured people.

In ancient times, people got benefits from fire after discovering it and also found ways to adjust to its existence. There are many places in the world where people worship fire as a sacred force. Fire is a friend until you restrict its power. But it turns into a foe once it gets the chance to control us.


The tutorial is about the contradictory nature of fire. We already know the usefulness of fire in our daily life. But failing to control fire can turn into major accidents. Unlike ancient people, we have the privilege of fire brigades to control fire and save people. The three main things to generate a fire are fuel, heat and oxygen. We get detailed knowledge on how to put out the fire in different situations. A lot of money is spent to create fire-controlling systems. Still, we lose many lives, houses and forests every year due to the unruly nature of fire. The tutorial helped us to learn the positive attributes of fire. It also reminds us how to be cautious so that the fire does not control us.


Fire is a friend when it is under our control. But the cruel nature of fire is like a foe. Its destructive nature is visible when we fail to control it. Learning to control fire helps us to co-exist with it while enjoying all its benefits.


Q1. Why do we consider fire as a friend?

Ans. Fire helps us like a friend by assisting in cooking, warming houses and generating electricity.

Q2. Why is fire a 'bad master'?

Ans. Fire destroys everything like a 'bad master' if there is no restriction against it.

Q3. How can we put out a fire on electric appliances?

Ans. We can put out a fire on electric appliances by using carbon dioxide fire extinguishers.

Updated on 13-Oct-2022 11:19:47