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littlekori's avatar

How is chemistry used in firefighting?

Asked by littlekori (676points) December 13th, 2010

I was recently reading something with a list of jobs on it that all had something to do with chemistry. And I was wondering how chemistry is used in being a firefighter.

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7 Answers

the100thmonkey's avatar

A knowledge of chemistry would certainly be useful when fighting chemical fires and other toxic spills, no?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Some chemicals retard fire, some accelerate it so it would handy to know which is which. They fight forest fires with chemical retardant. Ever notice the color of the water they airdrop?

john65pennington's avatar

I was a firefighter in the Air National Guard for eight years. i drove one of those P-3 firetrucks with the chemicals on board to produce chemical foam for burning aircraft. chemical foam plays a big part in extinguishing fuel fires. it smothers the oxygen needed to fuel a fire.

Chemical foam is composed of animal blood, fish scales, water and air. this combination of chemicals is slick and foamy and very effictive.

There is more about chemicals and fires to disgust here.

Taciturnu's avatar

@john65pennington REALLY? Animal blood, scales? YUCK!

woodcutter's avatar

there is a firefighting chemical called halon that extinguishes fire by removing oxygen in a room. For that reason it is a bad choice to use where there could be people involved as it will quickly suffocate all in the vicinity. Maybe in warehouse auto systems.

spykenij's avatar

What about the chemical reaction that occurs when water is thrown on a grease fire? Chemist had to make a fire extinguisher that would put out a grease fire, rather than fuel it.

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