How to Safely Build a Fire

In recent time, wildfires are broke out across the country. While many of these were not set due to improper fire building, why take the chance. Below are the basic steps by which you need to follow to safely build a fire. While these steps are geared toward backcountry camping, it is wise to follow these steps any time you plan on building a camp fire.

Prepare the ground

Believe it or not, skipping this step is a wonderful way of building a fire that will quickly get out of control. This is especially true in the fall and winter. Why is this? Well, think about all the dried plant material that is on the ground during this time. This includes leaves, dead grass along with dead wood. To create a safe surface, you must do two things. One, is to remove as much of this dead plant material as possible. Better yet, take the area down to bare soil. Once that is done, make a fire ring. The purpose of this fire ring is to keep the fire contained. If the fire does get on the ring, it will not get out of control. Why? Because a fire ring is made of something that is fire resistant. The best material to use is rocks but if you cannot find any, you can use a rim of compacted soil.

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Create your own camp fire extinguisher

While you may take all the precautions that you can, there is still always that chance that a fire will get out of hand. Two items that you will want near the camp fire is a bucket of water and a shove. The water is self explanatory but the shovel may not be as evident. When putting out a fire, pour the water on the fire as close to the top as you can. This will prevent pushing the fire onto other flammable material compare to if the water is thrown from the side. Also, a fire can be put out with dirt. When you add dirt to a fire, it reduces the amount of oxygen that is available to the fire. Combining both of these techniques is an easy way of creating a simple fire extinguishing plan.

Leave no trace

When camping one should always follow the principle of “leave no trace.” If you are not familiar with this the definition is simple-leave it the way you found it. When it comes to a camp fire, you may think that is a little hard to do. I mean you did have fire, which changes the area but the responsible way of putting a fire out can help you stay with the “leave no trace” principle.

Once you are done with your fire, put it out with water and soil. Continue to add the water and soil until you no longer feel heat coming off the ground. Next, remove the stones and/or soil rim. Finally, and only when you are absolutely sure the fire is out, add vegetation back on top of the burned area. At this point, take another precautionary measure and add more soil. Top this layer with water.

Yes, I know for some that these steps may seem like a waste of time but it is time worth spending to protect our wild places from fire.

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