Fire Dynamics, Firefighting

Differentiating the “Fireground Phenomena”

Issue 03 and Volume 173.

By NICK J. SALAMEH For many years, fire service members have been debating over the three fireground phenomena: flashover, backdraft, and smoke explosion. Modern technology allows us to view examples of these phenomena through online video footage and educational fire blogs. Sometimes, it can be difficult to differentiate one event from the other, hence the debates. Fire Triangle, You Say? The Fire Decagon and Fire Behavior Many of us believe we have a pretty good understanding of flashover, backdraft, and smoke explosion, but we sometimes see an event that does not seem to be so clear-cut, like the difference between a backdraft and a smoke explosion. Some references, such as the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), recognize a smoke explosion as a backdraft, but there are some differences between the two, which we will discuss. It’s also important to understand where flashover, backdraft, and smoke explosion occur within the modern…

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