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Building Fires and Fire Safety. Outdoor Pursuits 110. Identifying and selecting firewood .

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Building Fires and Fire Safety


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    1. Building Fires and Fire Safety Outdoor Pursuits 110

    2. Identifying and selecting firewood 1. The selection of firewood is generally a function of availability. Use what is legally available. In most regions of the country, there isn’t a lot of choice. Ideally, one would select firewood based on the following considerations. a. Softwood (eg. Pine, spruce and cedar) are convenient for use as tinder and kindling. They ignite readily and burn hot. b. Hardwood (eg. Maple, yellow birch, beach) are excellent for obtaining hot long lasting coals, providing a steady temperature for cooking and baking.

    3. Identifying and selecting firewood 2. It has been determined that fires will only be used when a there is ample supply of firewood on the ground and the wood burned will be naturally replenished in a reasonable time. 3. Firewood selection should be based on the following considerations. a. Only pick wood that is already down. Remember …”rules are for fool:. In rainy weather, when fires are necessary one might pick the fine dead tinder which is still attached in the undergrowth of a conifer. b. Collect enough wood to maintain the fire. c. Collect wood of different sizes and stack the wood according to size. This provides convenient access to wood as the fire is started.

    4. The three common components of fire There must be a balance of fuel, heat and oxygen to have a successful fire. When having difficulty starting a fire, it is often helpful to think of which component is out of balance and try to establish the proper balance.

    5. The three common components of fire • Fuel: Wood provides the fuel in campfires. The key is to have the correct size fuel for the amount of heat available. (You can’t light a 4 inch round stick of wood with a match.) • Heat: Heat ignites the fuel and must be balanced with it. Large fuel will not ignite until the heat of the fire rises to a suitable temperature to thoroughly heat the wood. There is usually water vapor close to the ground. The fire should be ignited a few inches above ground level. • Oxygen: there must be room for oxygen. Allow for ample air circulation and arrange the fuel so that oxygen can get to the fire.

    6. Materials needed in Fire construction 1.Tinder • Fine, flammable material which will ignite from the heat of a match. • Birch bark (collected from the ground), pine pitch or spruce pitch, and fine twigs. • If the group must depend on fires it is important to have a plastic bag of these materials for a rainy day.

    7. Materials needed in Fire construction 2. Kindling • Small diameter branches (3/4” or less) or split wood which will ignite from the tinder • Softwood such as pine, spruce and cedar are very suitable for kindling.

    8. Materials needed in Fire construction 3.Fuel • Firewood which provides coals and uniform heat for cooking. • Hardwoods such as maple, hickory and apple do an admirable job of providing good coals for cooking.

    9. Laying the fire There are several methods for laying a fire, each of which has advantages. The situation you find yourself in will determine which fire to use. • Teepee • Lean-to • Log Cabin • Cross-Ditch • Pyramid • Council

    10. Laying the fire a. Tepee • To make this fire arrange the tinder and a few sticks of kindling in the shape of a tepee or cone. Light the center. As the tepee burns, the outside logs will fall inward, feeding the fire. This type of fire burns well even with wet wood.

    11. Laying the fire b. Lean-To • To lay this fire push a green stick into the ground at a 30-degree angle. Point the end of the stick in the direction of the wind. Place some tinder deep under this lean-to stick. Lean pieces of kindling against the lean-to stick. Light the tinder. As the kindling catches fire from the tinder, add more kindling.

    12. Laying the fire c. Log Cabin Fire • This is the most popular style for beginners to build - I don't know why, maybe because it looks like a house? Anyway, I tend to not use it because it is difficult to access the interior. But, I do add wood to a burning teepee fire to turn it into a log cabin. • Lay a small teepee fire. • Lay two larger pieces of fuel wood parallel on opposite sides of the teepee. • Lay two slightly smaller pieces of fuel wood parallel on the other two opposite sides. Leave a space under the upwind piece through which you can reach the tinder to light it - you might need to fashion a mini-torch and stick it in to light. • Continue to lay smaller and shorter pieces to form a cabin or pyramid shape. • Have extra kindling ready to drop into the top or through the spaces on the sides to feed the internal fire until the outer walls catch fire. • This kind of fire makes good coals and is a classic campfire look. Getting it lit is the challenge.

    13. Laying the fire d. Cross-Ditch • To use this method scratch a cross about 30 centimeters in size in the ground. Dig the cross 7.5 centimeters deep. Put a large wad of tinder in the middle of the cross. Build a kindling pyramid above the tinder. The shallow ditch allows air to sweep under the tinder to provide a draft.

    14. Laying the fire e. Pyramid • To lay this fire place two small logs or branches parallel on the ground. Place a solid layer of small logs across the parallel logs. Add three or four more layers of logs or branches, each layer smaller than and at a right angle to the layer below it. Make a starter fire on top of the pyramid. As the starter fire burns, it will ignite the logs below it. This gives you a fire that burns downward, requiring no attention during the night.

    15. Laying the fire f. Council Fire • The big daddy of large group campfires. A council fire burns hot, bright, and for a long time without adding more wood. It does take bigger logs and is meant for entertaining big crowds. • Lay 4 logs, each about 5 or 6 inches across and 3 to 3.5 feet long, with about 4 inches of air space between logs. • Across these, lay a platform of about 6 logs, each about 5 inches across and 3 feet long. • Across this, lay a layer of 4 inch logs, 2.5 feet long. • Then, two layers of 3 inch logs, 2 feet long, in perpendicular layers. • Then, 2 layers of 2 inch logs, 2 feet long. • Then, 2 layers of 1 inch split wood, 18 inches long. • Make a lot of split kindling sticks and stick them into any open air space in the log layers. • Create a teepee structure on top of the last layer of split wood. • Leaving a space to light the teepee, continue placing more split pieces around the teepee to make a few more layers. • The teepee is lit and the fire burns its way down through the layers. • This fire maintains good flame for a long time as burning fuel drops down into the larger pieces of wood and ignites them. There is no large structural collapse as you might get with a log cabin.

    16. Inclement weather suggestions • Use your twiggy bag (a bag of twiggy’s, birch bark, and pitch etc.) • Oozing pitch from conifer trees ignites under the most adverse conditions. Carefully scrape the pitch from the tree trying not to injure the bark • Look for dry tinder under logs, boulders, at the base of large trees, and other dry areas. • Carve dry wood out of the core of wet kindling. • Build a tepee fire being sure to keep the center well stoked.

    17. Lighting the Fire • Don’t be afraid to use paper if it’s available. • Remember that heat rises, so when striking a match; try to hold the lit end lower than the rest of the match. • Light the fire upwind so the heat generated will be blown towards the fire and not away from it. • Homemade or commercial fire starters made from paraffin and paper can be carried for lighting fires in moist or emergency conditions.

    18. Remember!!!!