Discuss what led to the flashover

Unit IV Case Study


For this assignment, you are to watch the video below. (See text at end that describes the video) The video illustrates a flashover in the mid-80s.  Although it is an older video, it shows a narrow wood-frame structure where a salamander kerosene heater in the hallway started a fire that developed from ignition to a fully-developed fire after a flashover.  Please do not critique the tactics or the protective clothing worn in that era.  However, focus on the combustion as an exothermic chemical reaction between a fuel (wood frame structure with wood bead board interior and kerosene) and an oxidizer, resulting in the generation of substantive heat that lead to a flashover.




It was a cold winter night with temperatures dropping in the low 30s.  The homeowner was using a salamander kerosene heater, which was common for that time, to stay warm.  During the morning, he turned off the heat and filled the heater with more kerosene.  As he filled the heater, some kerosene spilled on the wood floor.  The heat from the heater burning all night cause the fuel to vaporize more than usual on a cold day, and when he lit the heater it flashed, igniting the spilled kerosene.  Within three minutes from time of dispatch, the Orlando Fire Department was on the scene with an engine company and a truck company.  The truck company split into two crews (inside and outside) to perform truck functions.  The engine crews were just making entry into the structure (about 2 feet inside the front door) when the flashover occurred.


Apply what you learned from the video using concepts from Chapters 7, 8, and 12 to describe the fire.  Discuss what led to the flashover.  For example, was there enough heat generated by the combustion (oxidation) process to ignite other materials.  If so, at what point?  Was there fire plume under the ceiling?  Was there filling of the fire compartment by smoke?  What was the smoke flow from the compartment regarding any opening?  What was the smoke movement?


Summarize your responses in a minimum of two pages in length.


To supplement your discussion and support your conclusions, you may use information from reputable, reliable journal articles, case studies, scholarly papers, and other sources that you feel are pertinent.  All sources used, including the textbook, must be referenced; paraphrased and quoted material must have accompanying citations in proper APA style.


The purpose of this assignment is for you to apply the concepts and knowledge you learned in this unit on the surveillance of the stages of fire in the video.  In addition, this provides you with the opportunity to use your skills, expertise, and experience to enrich your response.      In the video provided we see several firefighters fighting a fire at a wood frame older residential home. At first it looks to be a normal house fire but after the video goes on I noticed the amount of dark black smoke pushing out of the structure followed by rolling flames coming out of the windows and doors. Flashover occurred but what caused this to happen? The first thing was the type of construction that was involved. Wood is very combustible. The contents within the structure from the 1980’s were very simple combustibles and not as much plastic and synthetic materials as we see today thus leading to a higher probability of flashover. The amount of smoke is another huge factor because smoke can act as fuel and will ignite and burn if temperature gets high enough.

All these factors led to this flashover and most likely a few firefighters getting burned. Oxidation played a huge roll in this process as well. As you could see there was plenty of oxygen getting into the structure through open doors and windows which fed the fire to generate enough heat to enable a flashover to have occurred. If you noticed the smoke rolling out heavily out of the windows and doors and once the temperature raised high enough the flame pattern followed the same as the smoke pattern because that is what ignited along with all other contents inside the structure. The fire was in the ceiling as well as every part of that house once flashover occurred.

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