MadSci Network: Biophysics

Re: Is fire a living thing? Why or why not?

Date: Sun Oct 10 14:06:46 1999
Posted By: Donald E Duggan, Undergraduate, Astronomy/physics - fire science, just plain ol' home
Area of science: Biophysics
ID: 939071992.Bp


Fire in and of itself is no more a living thing than is a nuclear reaction.
As a matter of fact, fire is a chain reaction involving some sort of fuel
(something that will burn) and something which will provide what it takes to
allow that burning to take place. In most cases, we are talking about 
ordinary combustibles such as wood, plastic and other item you will find in a 

Fire is predictible in most cases unless something unforeseen happens like a
keg of powder going off in the home of a black powder gun enthusiast. 
The reaction which takes place in fire is termed an oxidation-reduction
reaction whereby the fuel is oxidzed by oxygen or some other fire sustaining
gas, such a nitrogen in the case of aluminum.

A fire extiguishing agent which has become very popular over the past 30
years is one called halon which comes in various mixtures of chemicals. They
use it in everything from jet plane engines to computer rooms and switching
rooms for long distance companies. It works by actually interfering with and
breaking up the chemical chain reaction which sustains the fire in the firest
place. But a living thing, in the sense that it can think for itself? - no
fire is not a living thing, though sometimes to firefighter it may seem
alive, especially when it is licking at your bottom and things begin to heat

I hope this answer's your question. any more questions about fire, feel free to
e-mail me direct at "

Donald E Duggan

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