Fire Safety: General Information

Elements of A Fire

Elements of Fire

Three basic elements must be present for a fire to occur:

  • Fuel -- For a fire to start there must be something to burn. The physical state of the fuel may be gases (natural gas, propane, butane, hydrogen, etc.); liquids (gasoline, kerosene, turpentine, alcohol, paint, varnish, lacquer, etc.) or solid (coal, wood, paper, cloth, grease, etc.)
  • Heat -- For a fire to start there must be a source of ignition, usually heat or a spark. Heat sources include: open flame, hot surfaces, sparks and arcs, friction-chemical action, electrical energy and compression of gases
  • Oxygen -- A source of oxygen is needed. Approximately 16% is required. Normal air contains 21% oxygen. Some fuels contain enough oxygen within their make-up to support burning.

These three components make up the fire triangle and proper combination of these three elements invariably results in a fire. By nature, a triangle needs three sides. Take away one of the sides, and the triangle collapses. The same is true of fire. Take away any of the three components of fire: fuel, heat or oxygen and the fire collapses, meaning that it can’t burn.

It is important to determine in advance what your response will be in the event of a fire occurrence on campus. The basic steps you will follow are:

  • Step 1: Activate Alarm
  • Step 2: Dial 911 (or from a cell phone Dial 397-4239)
  • Step 3: Evacuate the Building

For additional information on emergency response, please refer to the Quick Reference: Response and Occurrence


Midwestern State University maintains an advanced system for the reporting of any problems to the University Police. The heart of the system is a dedicated 911 emergency telephone computer with enhanced location determination capabilities.

There are multiple phones on campus, all connected to this system:

  • All emergency phones which are part of the University Police Dispatch Unit (911) are connected to the emergency telephone system.
  • All public pay phones in campus buildings and on campus properties are connected to the 911 system. No coin is required when dialing 911.


Emergency Phone Station
  • A network of outdoor emergency phones covers the campus. These phones, which are found primarily along walkways, are located in yellow boxes which are topped by blue lights. All phones are labeled "Emergency". One other phone box is located on Sikes Lake Center building on the south east corner.

The location of all the outdoor emergency phones can be found on the following maps.

North Campus

South Campus

To use such a phone, open the door to the box and hold the red button until the call is answered. This will activate the 911 system, which will indicate the phone's location at the campus police station

Talking to Dispatcher

Emergency Phone