The Fire Triangle: Teacher Guide

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Classroom Investigation 01: The Fire Triangle Teacher Guide (pdf, 2 MB)

This teacher guide supports teachers in facilitating a 5E investigation where students conduct four experiments to observe impact of limiting one of each side of the fire triangle – oxygen, fuel, and heat - to understand the needs of fire. Then, using a metal screen, students look at a candle flame to observe combustion.


The fire triangle is critical to ­fire ­fighting and fi­re investigation. Fire professionals must understand what are needs to burn and how eliminating one leg of the ­fire triangle can extinguish are. Why do ­fire ­fighters use water to put out a fi­re? What leg of the ­fire triangle are they eliminating?

Just like a candle flame can leave a soot pattern on a ceramic tile, ­fire investigators look for these types of patterns on walls, furniture, and other parts of structures to help them determine the point of origin of the ­fire, or the location where the fi­re started. Knowing where are started helps investigators understand how it was caused.


  • What are the three things a fire must have to burn?

Problem to be solved

  • Firefighters and fire investigators need to know basic fire science to both fight fires and to uncover the source of a burn.

Be sure to explore the video showing this classroom investigation as well as the student guide.

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