Fire Systems Queensland

Debunking the Myth: Not All Smoke Is Visible in Fires

When it comes to Fire Safety, there are many misconceptions that can potentially jeopardise lives and property. One such myth revolves around the visibility of smoke during a fire. Contrary to popular belief, not all smoke is immediately visible to the naked eye. In this blog post, we’ll dive into this myth and explore the importance of understanding the nature of smoke in different fire scenarios.

The Myth: All Smoke Is Visible

It’s a common misconception that whenever a fire occurs, thick and billowing clouds of dark smoke will be immediately apparent. This assumption, however, is far from accurate. While some Fires do produce highly visible smoke, others may emit lighter or even nearly invisible smoke. Understanding this fact is crucial for recognising fires early and taking appropriate actions to ensure safety.

Types of Smoke

Visible Smoke
This is the type of smoke that most people associate with fires. It’s dense, dark, and often obstructs vision.

Visible smoke is typically produced by fires involving materials such as wood, paper, and other organic substances. 

These fires tend to be more “flaming” and generate higher temperatures, resulting in the formation of noticeable smoke.

Not All Smoke Is Visible In Fires

Invisible or Light Smoke
Several types of fires can produce smoke that is difficult to see, and they include:

  • Electrical Fires: Electrical fires can produce light, thin smoke that is often difficult to detect visually. These fires pose a unique danger, as they can smoulder for an extended period before erupting into a visible blaze.
  • Smouldering Fires: Fires that smoulder rather than blaze can release a slow and steady stream of barely visible smoke. These fires might be the result of flammable materials slowly igniting, and they can be particularly challenging to detect.
  • Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning: Incomplete combustion, such as that which occurs with certain heating systems, can generate carbon monoxide gas. This gas is colourless and odorless, making it impossible to detect without specialized equipment like carbon monoxide detectors.

The Danger of Invisible Smoke

Assuming that all fires will produce visible smoke can have serious consequences. Fires emitting light or invisible smoke can catch occupants off guard, delaying evacuation efforts. The lack of visible smoke might lead to a false sense of security, allowing the fire to grow unnoticed until it becomes a major threat.

Your First Line of Defence

To counter this misconception and enhance fire safety, it’s essential to rely on properly functioning fire detectors. Smoke detectors, are designed to detect even the smallest traces of smoke. They can quickly alert occupants to the presence of a fire, regardless of whether the smoke is visible or not.

Tips for Improved Fire Safety

  • Regular Maintenance: Ensure that smoke detectors are tested and maintained to AS1851 to guarantee their effectiveness.
  • Proper Placement: Install smoke detectors in key areas, including bedrooms, hallways, and common spaces, to maximise coverage. 
  • Education: Educate your, employees, or occupants about the varying characteristics of smoke and the importance of immediate action upon hearing a fire alarm.


The belief that all smoke is visible during a fire is a dangerous myth that needs to be dispelled. By understanding the different types of smoke and the crucial role that smoke detectors play in fire safety, we can better prepare ourselves to respond swiftly and effectively in the event of a fire.

Remember, it’s not just about what we can see – it’s about staying vigilant, informed, and proactive to ensure the safety of ourselves and our loved ones.

At Fire Systems Queensland we’re committed to your safety. Our experts install advanced fire detection systems that sense even subtle smoke, guaranteeing swift responses to potential threats. Don’t risk myths about smoke visibility.

Contact us now to secure your peace of mind. Stay informed, stay safe with our dedicated team by your side.

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