Fire Safety Merit Badge – The ability to use fire safely is essential to human survival. Fire is a part of life, by learning the skills described in this article, you will be better prepared to use fire safely.
This article will provide you with information on the science of fire, how to prevent home fires, and how to handle fire safely. There are also chapters on burn prevention, outdoor, camping safety, and your local fire service.
The goal of this fire safety merit badge is to help you develop the knowledge and the skills necessary to prevent and to survive from fires and burns.
Fire Safety Merit Badge Requirements
- Do the following:
- Demonstrate the technique of stop, drop, cover, roll, cover your face, and cool. Explain how burn injuries can be prevented.
- List the most frequent causes of burn injuries.
- Explain how to safely discard and store flammable liquids.
- Explain the chemistry and physics of fire. Name the parts of the fire tetrahedron. Explain why vapors are important to the burning process. Name the products of combustion. Give an example of how fire grows and what happens.
- Name the most frequent causes of fire in the home, and give examples of ways they can be prevented. Include a discussion about fires caused by smoking in the home, cooking, candles, fireplaces, and electrical appliances.
- Explain the role of human behavior in the arson problem in this country.
- List the actions and common circumstances that cause seasonal and holiday-related fires. Explain how these fires can be prevented.
- Conduct a home safety survey with the help of an adult. Then do the following:
- Draw a home fire-escape plan, create a home fire-drill schedule, and conduct a home fire drill.
- Test a smoke alarm and demonstrate regular maintenance of a smoke alarm.
- Explain what to do when you smell gas and when you smell smoke.
- Explain how you would report a fire alarm.
- Explain what fire safety equipment can be found in public buildings.
- Explain who should use fire extinguishers and when these devices can be used.
- Explain how to extinguish a grease pan fire.
- Explain what fire safety precautions you should take when you are in a public building.
- Do the following:
- Demonstrate lighting a match safely.
- Demonstrate the safe way to start a charcoal fire.
- Demonstrate how to safely light a candle. Discuss with your counselor how to safely use candles.
- Explain the difference between combustible and noncombustible liquids and between combustible and noncombustible fabrics.
- Do the following:
- Describe for your counselor the safe way to refuel a liquid fuel engine, such as a lawnmower, weed eater, an outboard motor, a farm machine, or an automobile with gas from an approved gas can.
- Demonstrate the safety factors, such as proper ventilation, for auxiliary heating devices and the proper way to fuel those devices.
- Do the following:
- Explain the cost of outdoor and wildland fires and how to prevent them.
- Demonstrate setting up and putting out a cooking fire.
- Demonstrate using a camp stove and lantern.
- Explain how to set up a campsite safe from fire.
- Visit a fire station. Identify the types of fire trucks. Find out about the fire prevention activities in your community.
- Determine if smoke detectors are required in all dwellings within your municipality. If so, explain which specific types are required. Tell your counselor what type of smoke detectors your house has or needs.
- Choose a fire safety-related career that interests you and describe the level of education required and responsibilities of a person in that position. Tell why this position interests you.
This link the most frequent causes of burn injuries for answer requirement 1.
This information for answers requirement 2 of fire safety merit badge.
The Chemistry and Physics of Fire
Fire is a chemical reaction between oxygen and vapors known as volatiles. When the oxygen and vapors interact, two types of energies-heat and light-are have given off in the form of flames.
So when you see a burning log, the flames are not eating the wood; they are just a visible sign of fast oxidation (interaction of oxygen and another substance) known as combustion.
What causes something to give off volatile vapors?
Usually, the answer is heating. When a substance is heated to a certain temperature, it gives off combustible vapors.
Some substances require a lot of heat to give off these vapors, while others give off combustible vapors at room temperature or colder.
For instance. Kindling, or small sticks of wood, catches fire more quickly than a big log. Both are made of the same material-wood but because the sticks have more surface area exposed to oxygen.
They are more easily combustible. So, vapors are important to the burning process because it is the vapors that are burning.
What Is Combustible?
Any substance that ignites or burns easily is said to be combustible. Example are things like gasoline, paint thinner, and aerosols. Fire warnings are usually on the containers to warn consumers that such substances should be treated carefully.
1. The Fire Tetrahedron
For a fire to occur, four factors must be present:
- And a continuous chemical chain reaction.
These four elements are known as the fire tetrahedron. A tetrahedron is a solid shape with four (tetra) triangular faces (hedron).
Simply put, firefighting and fire prevention are attempts to remove one or more elements of the fire tetrahedron.
For instance: When you pour water in a campfire, you are removing heat. When you slide a lid on a pan fire, you are cutting off the supply of oxygen.
When you keep newspapers away from a stove, you are separating the fuel from a heat source.
|Fuel. Anything that will produce combustible vapors qualifies as fuel. There are solid fuels (like wood), liquid fuels (like gasoline), and gaseous fuels (like methane).|
|Oxygen. An oxidizing agent is needed for the chemistry of fire. Most often, oxygen is that agent. The air we breathe, which is 21 percent oxygen, is usually enough to provide the piece of the fire tetrahedron.|
|Heat. When a substance is at a temperature sufficient for it to produce combustible vapors, all it takes to start a fire is the heat from an ignition source, such as the flame from a match.|
|Unbroken chemical chain reaction. This is the uninterrupted interaction of the heat, fuel, and oxygen that allows the fire to continue to burn. For instance, once you have lit a candle’s wick. The melted wax releases combustible vapors. |
Those new vapors mix with the oxygen in the air, creating more heat, which melts more wax, which gives off more combustible vapors.
2. Products of Combustion
When a fire burns, it produces light, heat, gases, and particles all of which affect humans in specific ways. Like:
|Heat. Your skin will start to burn at around 115 to 177 degrees. If you inhale air at this temperature, it will damage your lungs. |
Because the temperature in a house fire can reach approximately 2000 degrees in less than 10 minutes, it is easy to understand why many people caught in house fires suffer inhalation burns.
|Gas. The most common harmful gas produced by a fire is carbon monoxide (CO), which is odorless, colorless, and tasteless.|
When you breathe in carbon monoxide, you become disoriented and sleepy, and you may fall unconscious and die. Other gases are produced by fire like Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN), Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Nitrogen (N2), and many others.
|Particles. The particles produced in a dire are called soot. Soot is mostly carbon particles of incompletely burned fuel. These particles combine with the gasses of the fire and make smoke.|
The particles in the air can irritate your eyes, make you cough, and block your vision.
This information for answers requirement 3 of fire safety merit badge.
To prevent fires, you need to know that causes them. Most fires occur outside the home. But most deaths and injuries, and the greatest dollar loss, occur in residential fires.
Individuals can have the biggest impact preventing residential fires.
Fires can be started almost anywhere with almost any materials. The key of fire safety is knowing what types of materials and conditions are most susceptible to fire, then practicing safety precautions to minimize the chances of fire.
Cigarettes and matches. Whether they are burning or merely smoldering, are sources of ignition and can easily set things like furniture and papers on fires.
Fires caused by smoking can be avoided easily. The following prevention:
- Cigarette butts should be cool before they are discarded and ashtrays should be emptied into containers that will not catch fire, like a metal trash can.
- People should never smoke while sleepy, while in bed, or when drinking alcohol or taking medication, as they might be more careless in their handling of a lit cigarette.
While the thermometer drops in the winter month, the chance of a furnace fire rises. Following a few precautions can help lower the probability of this type of fire.
- Keep a 3-foot area around the furnace clear of anything that could catch fire.
- Change the furnace filter regularly.
- Have the furnace professionally inspected as recommended by the manufacturer or at least once a year at the beginning of the heating season.
3. Space Heaters
Space heaters usually are electric, but some burn fuel like propane, natural gas, or kerosene. While they are a convenient way to generate a great deal of heal in a small area.
Space heaters can be dangerous if certain safety measures are not followed. For preventing:
- Use a space heater only as a supplemental heat source.
- Keep a 3-foot area around and above the space heater clear of anything that could catch fire.
- Use the correct fuel and fuel the heater outside.
- Keep children away from the space heater, and make sure there is adult supervision in the room at all times the heater is turned on.
- Make sure the wires of an electric heater are not frayed and that the outlet you use is grounded and not overloaded.
- Have wood burners and other solid-fuel devices inspected at least once a year.
Sitting in front of a roaring fireplace can be one of the joys of winter. But following a few safety rules can help keep the fire in its place.
- Make sure children do not get too near the fireplace.
- Always put a screen in front of the fireplace to keep embers from escaping and igniting materials like rugs or clothing.
- Take ashes out and away from the house for proper disposal.
- Keep things that could catch fire at 3 feet away from the fireplace.
- Have the fireplace and chimney professionally cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
- Do not burn green wood in a fireplace. It gives off too much smoke, burns unpredictably, and causes heavy creosote buildup, which is a fire hazard.
- Do not burn pressure-treated wood, shiny or metallic paper, or plastics in a fireplace or furnace. Because they give off toxic gasses.
- Keep outside tree branches away from the chimney. Keep the roof clean of leaves and other debris. Consider covering the chimney with a mesh spark arrestor screen.
Simply whipping up breakfast can be a fire hazard. Be sure to follow these precautions in the kitchen.
- Turn cookware handles toward the back of the stove so hot pots and pans will not accidentally be bumped.
- Stay in the kitchen while you are cooking and keep small children from the stove.
- Wipe up all grease spills immediately.
- Keep items that could easily catch fire, like pot holders and dishtowels away from the stove.
- Put a lid on pan fires.
- If there is an oven fire, close the oven door and turn the oven off.
6. Electrical Appliances
All electrical appliances should be operated according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Exercise care when using anything that has to plugged into an electrical supply.
- Keep combustibles away from heat-producing appliances such as toasters and irons.
- Turn off halogen lamps whenever you leave a room because halogen bulbs get especially hot.
- Unplug appliances when they are not in use. This is especially important for appliances such as toaster, ovens, irons, and other appliances that get hot.
- Do not drape material over lamps. Use the correct bulb wattage for your lamp and shade. Make sure lamps are secure and level and they will not easily fall over.
- Keep electrical appliances away from water.
- Keep appliances in good repair and make sure the electrical cord are not frayed or damaged.
7. Electrical Distribution Equipment
Extension cords and other wiring are essential to a modern home, but any use of electricity should be handled with care. Follow these precautions to stay safe.
- Make sure extension cords are not under rugs or in any area where they might get worn down, stepped on, or damaged.
- Always treat wiring as though it is on, “hot”, or energized.
- Put plug covers on outlets if there are children around.
- Use the proper extension cord with the proper appliance. Use as few extension cords as possible and do not overload them.
- Keep ladders, especially metal ones, away from overload wires. A ladder that touches an overhead wire can conduct massive amounts of electricity and electrocute anyone who touches it.
The following is the answer to requirement 4 fire safety merit badge.
8. Arson Problem
Arson is the crime of purposely setting a fire for wrongdoing. About one in four fires in America is caused by arson. Arson is the second leading cause of death by fire.
Only fires caused by smoking cause more residential-fire deaths. Arson is also the major cause of deaths, injuries, and dollar loss in commercial properties.
Arson is a felony that is punishable with lengthy jail sentence. If the fire causes human injury, more time could be added to the arsonist’s sentence.
In most countries if a fire set by an arsonist results in death, that arsonist is guilty of murder. The most arsonists are under the age of 20.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, children start approximately 10.000 fires annually. In recent years, playing with fire has been the leading cause of fire deaths among preschoolers.
Some older kids start fires because they are bored or curious about fire. They do not respect or understand fire and the damage it can do. The professional firefighters know that fire is unpredictable and hard to control.
Other kids start fires because they are frustrated with some part of their lives. But this is not the way to solve problems.
In fact, arson can make a person’s life much worse. These types of fire starters need counseling to address personal issues.
Here’s what you can do to help prevent arson:
|Refuse anyone who tries to get you involved in setting a fire or experimenting with fire.|
|Report any suspicious activity around buildings. Firefighters are three times more likely to be injured fighting an abandoned-building fire, than one in an occupied building.|
|Report anyone involved in fire play to your parents, counselor, fire department, or police department.|
|If you know a child who plays with fire, treat that situation as if the child were playing with guns: Report it immediately. Remember that children as young as 2 are capable of setting fires.|
Here’s the information for answer requirement 5 fire safety merit badge.
Seasonal and Holiday Fire Safety
Fires occur frequently during holidays and times of seasonal change. Following is a look at the major calendar-related fires and how they can be prevented.
1. December to February
More fires occur during these cold winter months than during any other time of year. One reason is Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s holiday festivities. Especially important is the role of Holiday decorations.
2. March to May
Fire problems in spring shift outdoors. As the weather improves, we spend more time outside, especially cooking and camping. For outdoor fire safety is discussed in detail in the chapter titled “Fire Safety Outdoors.”
Before spring rains trigger the growth of new plants, grass, and brush from the previous season is highly flammable.
Extreme care must be taken with open flames outside. Where possible, cut back or remove dead, fire-prone vegetation.
3. June to August
Fireworks during the Fourth of July are a big fire hazard. The safest way to handle fireworks is not to handle them. Leave fireworks display at a park, hall field, or other outdoor venue.
Summer also triggers fire danger from outdoor cooking. Use portable grills and other outdoor cooking device in an open area and never below an overhanging roof or in an unventilated space.
Do not use portable grills on apartment decks if there is any potential of spreading dangerous fumes to the unit above or dropping hot coals to the unit below.
Be careful of any flame or heat source outdoors, including matches, sparks, and cigarette butts. If you see smoke outdoors that suggests a grass or brushfire, notify the fire department immediately.
4. September to November
The fail months bring cool even cold weather to many parts of the country. This change in weather marks the return of heater-related hazard.
Autumn is the time to clean and repair all heating appliances and to ready your home for winter. October brings Halloween, another holiday demanding careful attention to fire danger.
Two main fire hazards are associated with this time of the year. The first involves lit candles in jack-o’-lanterns. Use a flashlight instead, the other hazard is trick or treat costumes.
Select those that are designated as flame-resistant or flame-retardant.
Here’s information for requirement 6 fire safety merit badge.
Home Fire Safety
Preparation is important to escape a fire. in the case of an actual fire, you will not have much time to stop and think. So your actions for escape should be automatic, well-practiced, and routine.
Develop a plan to get everyone out of the house before you call the fire department. Because all family members need to know what to do in a fire, all should be involved in escape planning.
You can watch this video for information about escaping planning.
1. Smoke Detectors
The smoke detector or smoke alarm is the single most important piece of fire survival equipment in your home. Most fatal residential fire occur at night when people are asleep.
Fires give off deadly gases, such as carbon monoxide, that can put people into a deep sleep or weaken their judgment.
Smoke detectors are designed to alert you in the earliest stages of a fire, giving you and your family time to escape.
Smoke detectors are activated by smoke particles that are produced when a fire burns. Some of these particles are too small to see with the human eye, but a smoke detector can sense them.
That explains why a smoke detector placed in the kitchen might go off when someone is cooking, even though there is no visible smoke.
Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to maintain your smoke detector:
- Vacuum the detector once a month to help keep dust from interfering with operations.
- Test a battery-operated detector once a week, or once a month if connected to the electrical current. Most smoke detectors have a test button that will activate the alarm when pressed.
- Change the batteries at least once a year, when you reset our clock in the spring or fall or an important date like a holiday or birthday.
- Track your smoke detector’s age and replace old ones. The average life span of a smoke detector is 10 years.
2. Reporting a Fire Alarm
To report a fire in your home to the fire department, go to the nearest neighbor or outside phone. If the fire is outside your home, you can call from your home phone.
Learn the proper procedure for reporting a fire or emergency in your community. You might live in an area where you need only to dial 9-1-1 to reach emergency personnel.
Because other areas have different emergency numbers. Learn your fire department’s telephone number as well. Do not wait until a fire or other emergency occurs to learn the proper procedure to follow.
If you call the fire department directly, the dispatcher will ask you for your name, the address of fire or some other description of its location, and additional pertinent information.
Stay on the line until the dispatcher tells you to hang up.
3. Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers have positive and negative aspects. On the positive side a fire extinguisher used properly can prevent a small fire drome getting out of control.
On the negative side, a fire extinguisher might give you false confidence or a feeling the fire is not a danger because an extinguisher is available to put it out.
Fire extinguishers can be beneficial if they are controlled by someone who knows how and when to use them. Know where the fire extinguishers are located, and practice using them correctly.
For more information about classes of fire, location, and how to practice fire extinguisher you can read on the fire safety merit badge pamphlet.
Here’s information for answer requirement 10
Fire Safety Outdoors
Our forests are national treasures to be enjoyed and protected. Responsible camping practices and outdoor safety habits are essential in preserving human and animal life, our environment, and our natural resources.
Exercising extreme caution with campfires and brushfires would reduce forest fires by about one-fifth. But an even simpler precaution careful use of matches and smoking materials would cut the loss by another 20 percent.
1. Wildland Fires
Every year in the United States, forest fires destroy thousands of acres of forest and timberland. Careless camping results in burns, fire injuries, and death.
People must learn and practice fire-safe habits while enjoying great outdoor.
2. The Cost of Fire
Death and personal injury area are the overriding concerns of wildland fires. Wildland fires are also significant because they can damage buildings, timber crops, wildlife, their habitat, and soil.
All of these losses are costly to humans. The cost of putting out the fire, no matter how small, is significant.
In most cases, the local fire department will extinguish it. In a department with paid firefighters, it costs money to send a crew and equipment to a fire.
In a volunteer fire department, the costs include equipment as well as the lost work time of the volunteer firefighters.
Another firefighting cost is the damage caused by a serious fire that is unattended because fire units are extinguishing a woods fire.
If a fire destroys a business, the chances are less than half that business will reopen in the same location. Thus, the fire results in lost jobs, reduce tax revenues to the community, and increased social service expenses.
The direct and indirect costs of woods fires affect us all.
3. Camping Safety
All the fire safety principles suggested by the home fire-safety checklist apply to your camping home away from home as well, particularly to a campsite with permanent buildings.
Follow these specific camp-safety rules to keep your self and fellow campers safe.
- Remove all flammable rubbish and leaves from around buildings and tents.
- Make sure to have some type of alarm that can be clearly heard throughout the camp. If a fire breaks out, all campers should know in a matter of minutes. If recognized fire protection is nearby, everyone in camp should know how to call it.
- Collect fireplace and stove in covered metal containers to cool, then dispose of them properly.
- Hang towels to dry away from stoves and heaters.
- Make a nightly check of the camp before tucking in to see that all fires and lights are out or suitably protected.
Too often, a careless person discards a match in dry leaves or grass and causes a fire. To avoid starting a fire of this type, make sure matches are thoroughly extinguished before they are discarded.
Shake or blow out a match to extinguish it. Before discarding the match, ensure that it is cool by rolling the tip of the match between your fingers.
5. Camp Stoves and Lanterns
For generations, an open fire provided light at night and a means for most camp cooking. While it is still important to know how to kindle a blaze.
Many Scouts now prefer to carry lanterns and cook over lightweight stoves, practices that help protect the land and provide an added convenience.
Using a camp stoves allows the flexibility of preparing meals quickly and neatly whether you are camping high above the tree line, in the deep snows of winter, or at the edge of an arid sand-stone canyon.
While a stove is a wonderful tool, it must be handled intelligently. Follow these guideline when using a camp stove:
- Place stove and charcoal grills on a level, secure surface, in ventilated areas only.
- Use camp stove and their fuels only with adult supervision. Practice using them before your outing, carefully following the manufacturer’s directions.
- Never fuel a stove inside a cabin or tent. Always do it outdoors.
- Do not overload the stovetop with heavy pots or large frying pans. Keep pan lids handy to smother a grease fire if necessary.
- Keep fuel in well-marked, approved containers that are stored in a ventilated, locked box at least 20 feet from all buildings and tents. Store and refill duel containers away from any flames.
- Allow a hot stove to cool before changing or refilling cylinders.
- Take home empty containers for proper disposal.
Two basic types of lanterns are used in camping. Battery-operated, portable electrical lanterns are reliable and safe for both indoor and outdoor use.
Fuel-burning lanterns use the same types of fuels as camp stoves, but instead of having an open flame, they contain a mantel. When ignited, the material glows and gives off bright light.
Follow these basic safety procedures for burning lanterns:
- Read and follow instructions.
- Keep the lantern in proper working condition.
- Only use lanterns outdoors.
It might be enough discussion about the fire safety merit badge. to complete the other requirements you can read the pamphlet that I shared earlier.