What do the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital, Jagger Library at UCT, 10 000 people’s informal homes in Hout Bay, billions of rands worth of homes in Knysna and the Kendall Power Station have in common? They all experienced major fires and/or burnt down. Fires are affecting our homes, businesses, veld areas and informal settlements. The number of fires and the cost of fires is increasing every year in South Africa – whilst in the some developed countries the trend is going the other way. This presentation seeks to look at the physics and safety engineering aspects of fire through asking interesting questions such as: Will my car catch fire if I leave a bottle of alcohol hand sanitiser in it on a very hot day? How can a wildland (veld) fire jump a fire break kilometres wide? Are Ecobrick homes safe? Do fire retardant paints actually make shacks safer? How many billions of Rands must go up in smoke before we start engineering a better future