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Fire is either exothermic (releases heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat). Heat from a fire is transferred through conduction, convection, or radiation, and many times in a fire, all three vehicles are being used at the same time.
In a fire, heat rises in a buoyant energy wave known as a fire plume. The velocity is dependent on the fire growth, and when a horizontal barrier is in place, the plume of energy spreads out in all directions along the horizontal barrier to become a ceiling jet. The plume and jet carry the products of combustion to objects, such as fixtures on the ceiling, but also to sprinklers and detectors.
Probably the most effective agent in suppression is steam. Steam is derived from the water spray absorbing heat and increases the ability of water to absorb additional heat through the effect of expansion, allowing additional surface area to impact the heat of the fire.
© Hughes Associates,Inc. 2012