Fire Behavior and Combustion

I.     Course Prefix/Number: FIR 108

       Course Name: Fire Behavior and Combustion

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

FIR101 - Introduction to Fire Science

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

This course introduces the theories and fundamentals of fire behavior and combustion.  Includes physical and chemical properties of fire, materials and their relationship to fire as fuel, and the use of water and other fire suppression agents and strategies.

IV.   Learning Objectives

Student Learning Outcomes:
Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  1. Define the physical properties and states of matter and describe the impact the combustion process may have on each.
  2. Given various types of fuels, discuss the impacts of the combustion process on the material and hazards firefighters may encounter during suppression activities.
  3. Explain the physical characteristics of fire and how they impact the tactics and strategy of firefighting.
  4. Describe the process of burning and the effects of water and other suppression agents that have on fire, as well as the techniques and strategies of extinguishment.

Performance Objectives:
Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:

  1. Identify the fundamental theories of fire behavior and combustion.
  2. Identify physical properties of the physical states of matter.
  3. Categorize the components of fire.
  4. Define the different types of heat, production, and measurement.
  5. Discuss various materials and their relationship to fires as fuel.
  6. Identify common flammable liquids and general properties of gases.
  7. Define and use basic terms and concepts associated with the chemistry and dynamics of fire.
  8. Discuss the characteristics of flame and combustion.
  9. Differentiate the various types of extinguishing agents.
  10. Classify and compare hazards by type.
  11. Explain the physical and chemical properties of fire.
  12. Describe and apply the process of burning.
  13. Demonstrate knowledge of the characteristics of water as a fire suppression agent.
  14. Articulate other suppression agents and strategies.
  15. Compare other methods and techniques of fire extinguishment.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. Introduction
    1. Matter and energy
    2. The atom and its parts
    3. Chemical symbols
    4. Molecules
    5. Energy and work
    6. Forms of energy
    7. Transformation of energy
    8. Laws of energy
  2. Units of Measurements
    1. International Systems (SI) of measurement
    2. English units of measurement
  3. Chemical Reactions
    1. Physical states of matter
    2. Compounds and mixtures
    3. Solutions and solvents
    4. Process of reactions
  4. Fire and the Physical World
    1. Characteristics of fire
    2. Characteristics of solids
    3. Characteristics of liquids
    4. Characteristics of gases
  5. Heat and its Effects
    1. Production and measurement of heat
    2. Different kinds of heat
  6. Properties of Solids Materials
    1. Common combustible solids
    2. Plastic and polymers
    3. Combustible metals
    4. Combustible dust
  7. Common Flammable Liquids and Gases
    1. General properties of gases
    2. The gas laws
    3. Classification of gases
    4. Compresses gasses
  8. Fire Behavior
    1. Stages of fire
    2. Fire phenomena
      1. Flashover
      2. Backdraft
      3. Rollover
    3. Fire plumes
  9. Fire Extinguishment
    1. Combustion process
    2. Characteristics of flame
    3. Fire extinguishment
  10. Extinguishing Agents
    1. Water
    2. Foams and wetting agents
    3. Inert gas extinguishing agents
    4. Halogenated extinguishing agents
    5. Dry chemical extinguishing agents
    6. Dry powder extinguishing agents
  11. Hazards by Classification Types
    1. Explosives
    2. Compressed and liquefied gases
    3. Flammable and combustible liquids
    4. Flammable solids
    5. Oxidizing agents
    6. Poisons
    7. Radioactive substances
    8. Corrosives

VII.  Methods of Instruction

  • Lectures
  • Handouts
  • Video/PowerPoint
  • Case Study
  • Scenarios
  • Class Discussion
  • Group Discussion

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Using References
  • Group Participation
  • Class Discussion
  • Practical Exercises

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Principles of Fire Behavior and Combustion, 4th Edition, Gann, Richard, Jones & Bartlett, 2015

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Homework 05 points
Quizzes 20 points
Exam #1 25 points
Exam #2 25 points
Exam #3 25 points
TOTAL 100 Points

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.