fsmt340 week 2 forum and responses

Take one household item that you have in your home (ie, furniture, cleaning products, etc.) and discuss the flammable properties of the item and the associated fire hazards.

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While searching for a household product to write about in this weeks forum, I decided that I wanted to steer away from the commonly known combustables.  This would include furniture items, electrical appliances, and cooking apparatus. However, during my early research I came across an article on a page operated by an insurance company named “Hippo.” This insurance company’s article states that the NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) released the statistic that approximately ten thousand home fires yearly see a mattress as the first item to burn.  Surprised by the statistic, I decided to select this as my research item. I believe that by better understanding the item first involved in a large number of home fires yearly I better understand other factors in dwelling fires and the rate they spread at.

According to the NFPA on their own website, today’s furniture is made with primarily with polyester materials.  Polyester is chemically made with a mixture of petroleum, coal, oxygen, and water. All fuels must be in a gaseous state to burn.  Petroleum, typically used in jet fuel, is highly flammable. It’s high level of flammability is due to the property of turning into a vapour (gaseous state) at a very low temperature.  Additionally coal is made up of carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Hydrogen is able to ignite and the oxygen found throughout the polyester is a component of the fire triangle/tetrahedron.  

In conclusion, polyester is in high quantity in furniture items, which makes for a supply of easily flammable vapours to be released when exposed to even low heat.  The size of most furniture pieces contributes to creating a large body of fuel. To better understand how these two factors affect the growth of fire, I watched several simulation/controlled burn videos on the NFPA’s same page.  In one video, a single room with only one arm chair goes from ignition to flashover conditions in about five minutes. In another simulation video the room with a full living room set is fully involved in well under three minutes. A third video shows a mattress inside a typical bedroom as the ignition point, and the romat flashover point only three minutes later.  The collective point demonstrated from the three videos is that the polyester material provides enough fuel and burns quick enough to create an IDLH environment likely before any municipality fire apparatus is able to get out of quarters.


5 of the Most Flammable Things in Your House. (2018, July 13). Retrieved from https://myhippo.com/blog/how-to-avoid-fire-hazards-in-your-home/

NFPA Journal. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.nfpa.org/News-and-Research/Publications-and-Media/NFPA-Journal/2013/September-October-2013/Features/Old-Problem-Fresh-Look


For this weeks forum I have chosen an electric blanket as my household item to speak about. The blanket itself does not pose too much of a risk in regards to flammability but more so in the fact that it may be the cause of a house fire. I do not use or care for the blanket much myself but my wife and kids use it religiously as soon as the temperature drops. I always tell them make sure to turn it off when theyre done and to never fall asleep with it on. That may be a little overboard but working in the profession, we know that things can happen.

Upon a bit further research, it came to my attention that electric blankets from about 10years ago are more of a danger than blankets made more recently. This is because these older blankets have a much larger chance to be worn through, exposing the internals of the blanket. There is also the possibility of pets or other things making holes in the blanket also exposing the internals. The electrical cords are also something that will wear out or fray over time. The constant movement and wiggle of the cord over many years will cause it to become unusable.

Some other ways that these electric blankets may be a hazard is when they are folded on itself, when the blanket is tucked in under the mattress or between couch cushions and when pets or other heavy objects are on top of the blanket. All of these examples could cause that particular section of the blanket to overheat and cause the ignition of a mattress or couch. During warmer months when the blanket would be stored, it is also important to remember to avoid folding the blanket too firmly, as sharp folds could crease the coils internally. Proper use is key here and in addition to constantly checking how the blanket is holding up. Older blankets should be replaced and avoiding common missuses would help prevent any hazards that these blankets present.

ESFI. (2015). Heating Pads and Electric Blanket Safety. Electrical Safety Foundation International. Retrieved from https://www.esfi.org/resource/heating-pads-electric-blankets-safety-290

Frost, S. (2017). The Dangers of Electric Blankets. Livestrong.  Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/150091-the-dangers-of-electric-blankets/

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