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 Definition The rapid oxidation of a combustible material releasing heat, light, and various reaction products such as carbon dioxide and water. [d] [e]
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Work in progress

Wip. --Robert W King 12:42, 7 August 2007 (CDT)


"The harnessing of fire is said to have been a pivotal event in mankind's developmental history."

While I officially (in the context of this project) do not take a stance on either evolution or creation (I leave my personal politics out of here), I think that using "evolutionary" might imply a pro-evolution stance; but I could be mistaken.--Robert W King 07:47, 12 August 2007 (CDT)

I added the statement and think its truth status is problematic on many fronts, but as I worded it, it is so. I should hope that "fire" as an analogy as held in many religions will become a subject here as well.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 14:15, 12 August 2007 (CDT)

Not hard to say what the better style is

Hayford: "difficult to determine" is no more exact than "hard to say." The latter is easier to read, more inviting, and in short perfectly acceptable for CZ. I'm opposed to making language sound formal for its own sake, or preferring Latin-based words, and that sort of thing. Like Strunk and White, I prefer punchy, Anglo-Saxon words, which are usually shorter, more colorful, and, since they are often less formal-sounding, also more appropriate for a readable introduction to a topic. Cf. CZ:Article Mechanics. (Can you tell that you touched a nerve there?  ;-) ) --Larry Sanger 11:03, 12 August 2007 (CDT)

I have to agree here. --Robert W King 11:06, 12 August 2007 (CDT)

P.S. "Fire is an observable side effect produced by an exothermal chemical reaction" is, with all due respect, a horrible first sentence for an article about fire. We should start by saying things that people looking to read about fire are most interested in knowing; the precise scientific definition (or, explanation), replete with jargon, is unnecessary at the start. What I want to know are: what sort of thing is the flame itself? How hot is fire? How bright is fire? (Or, of course, the question might be the variations. How hot and bright are the average fireplace or campfire fire? Or the stovetop flame?) Why is fire so fascinating? What are its main uses? We need a scientist who is a bit of a poet to introduce this topic. If we want to start with a scientific definition, then for god's sake explain the terms.  :-) The topic of the article is "fire," not "exothermal chemical reaction." --Larry Sanger 11:11, 12 August 2007 (CDT)

Fire is very hot and bright, and it consumes what it burns. This much we learn in childhood. Flames seem to be very weird, mysterious things, constantly moving and so fires, like water--which, interestingly, can put out a fire--are fascinating to watch, as in a campfire or fireplace. But the flames of a fire are simply a hot, glowing gas--not, contrary to a common conjecture, plasma.

Fire doesn't consume anything--it merely changes its state (following the laws of physics: matter cannot be destroyed nor created). Also, I'm not sure it's "interesting" that water can put out fire, I would say it's more "intuitive".--Robert W King 13:48, 13 August 2007 (CDT)


The person responsible for this image says it's a bonfire lit to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night (5th November, when fireworks and bonfires celebrate Fawkes's failure to blow up Parliament). Robert W. King has reverted my addition of "this bonfire in Leeds, UK shows how fire is a fundamental part of human culture", returning the image description to the (slightly surreal) "Fire". John Stephenson 11:10, 12 August 2007 (CDT)

The image doesn't "show" anything but a bonfire. For all we know, the fire could be anywhere, for any reason, started by anyone. There is no context in the image to suggest otherwise.--Robert W King 11:14, 12 August 2007 (CDT)
Well, you said in the log that it didn't show anything but a woodfire. But the photographer snapped a bonfire, and I think we should indicate that, mentioning fire's relevance to culture. Being explicit is better than having the single word 'fire' under a photo of a bonfire. That's like going to Car and writing 'Car' under a photo of a Corvette Stingray. John Stephenson 11:18, 12 August 2007 (CDT)
This article isn't about Guy Fawke's Day, or celebrations. And this is an incorrect analogy; fires are only different based on their characteristics and are not identifiable based on their reason, a christmas fire is no different from an easter fire without surrounding context to tell otherwise.--Robert W King 11:20, 12 August 2007 (CDT)
Of course fire is the same thing everywhere, but I think an article on 'Fire' is more than about just the physical phenomenon; it's about its place in our culture. It is odd, I would argue, to take a random image of any fire, anywhere, and label it 'fire', without any context. John Stephenson 11:25, 12 August 2007 (CDT)
I have to agree that adding context and meaning to the fire adds something important here. I will add verbiage to the caption and see how it goes.  —Stephen Ewen (Talk) 14:19, 12 August 2007 (CDT)
I gave it a day or so, and I still think that if we want to convey fire as a part of culture, it needs to go in a section (I am writing it shortly) and the picture should have some more context in the image; people dancing, decorations--whatever. The image of a bonfire alone just isn't enough to convey the culture aspect of fire.--Robert W King 08:16, 13 August 2007 (CDT)

Fire in Culture

I invite everyone to please, please add information on fire's impact on culture in the appropriate section ;). --Robert W King 09:28, 13 August 2007 (CDT)

Indeed, I think the most general notes about this could come first, maybe even before a scientific definition/explanation. See above.

The pic of the candle flame is nice.

And who are the experts on fire: physicists or chemists? I guess I don't know! --Larry Sanger 13:29, 13 August 2007 (CDT)

Both? William Niday 13:36, 13 August 2007 (CDT)

I went ahead and added both, in lieu of someone coming here to tell us definitively... I also made a bunch of changes to the article. Removed external links to an external links section (I did not delete them!). It's not at all a bad article, but just for instance, I changed this

The recognition of this capability has lead to a great need for fire departments and other resources to minimize and or contain the resulting destruction.

to this:

Fire departments are set up to respond as quickly as possible to fires that threaten human life and property.

Which is better? --Larry Sanger 14:04, 13 August 2007 (CDT)

Fire departments aren't the only agencies that fight fires. The military does, too, and so do other "First Responder" organizations/agencies. --Robert W King 14:06, 13 August 2007 (CDT)
Well, then say so. Vague language is very dull to read. --Larry Sanger 14:09, 13 August 2007 (CDT)
"...and work diligently to control the situation." Obviously; doesn't the context make this perfectly clear? Robert, you personally need to read (or re-read) your Strunk and White. No offense, but you do! --Larry Sanger 14:20, 13 August 2007 (CDT)
Fluid Dynamicists and Particle Physicists? --Robert W King 13:37, 13 August 2007 (CDT)

I don't want to sound Too Annoying (too late), but consider this line from the introduction: "Flames seem to be weird, mysterious things, constantly moving, and so, like water—which, interestingly, can put out a fire—campfires or fireplace flames are fascinating to watch." Now, to be Perfectly Precise, shouldn't it be, "Flames seem to be weird, mysterious things, constantly moving, and so, like water—which, interestingly, can put out a fire—, campfires or fireplace flames are fascinating to watch." (The dash-comma isn't used much, but it isn't a grammatical violation.) Or is this just too fussy? Jeffrey Scott Bernstein 13:15, 22 October 2007 (CDT)

Strange intro

This intro is very strange in style for an encyclopedic article. Sounds more mystic or awed than authoritative. In addition, not all fires are hot or bright. For example, fire used by magicians is not very hot, and fire in formula I race cars (methanol or ethanol?) are nearly invisible to the naked eye. Would I get howls if I essentially gutted the intro paragraph? David E. Volk 18:27, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

Your feelings mirror mine exactly. I tried to do something about it a long time ago but didn't get very far, mainly because I didn't know enough about the topic to be able to write a *real* intro. Hopefully you do -- and will. There was a fair amount of what I think both of us consider to be "non-encyl." writing when I first joined in May of 07. Not much, if any, since then, but there are still remnants here and there -- the earliest members were, of course, feeling their way somewhat... Hayford Peirce 18:54, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
First, I agree with both the style and substance. While I haven't had to do it myself, I have known firefighters who speak, of real fear, with having to deal with hydrogen fires, which are invisible without thermal viewers, yet deadly if unknowingly entered.
Might a cleanup here also deal with explosives, in that both physically share the property of an expanding wavefront of chemical reaction, the difference being the rate of expansion? (Yes, I know there are finer distinctions of deflagration, low explosive, and high explosive). Howard C. Berkowitz 20:07, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

I see Larry wrote the intro. Was he just having a poetic day? I think David should just go at it and bring it closer to informative rather than opinion. Chris Day 20:35, 8 December 2008 (UTC)