Fire Principles and Site Selection

Posted On January 26, 2012 at 8:53 pm by / 1 Comment

Fire Principles and Site Selection

Good ol’ fire, one of man’s greatest discoveries. Also one of the most commonly used survival resources. A fire can mean the difference between life or death in many survival situations as it fulfills many needs. Fire is a great tool for more than just staying warm. Fires can also:

  • Cook and preserve food
  • Preserves calories by warming food that the body would normally lose to produce body heat
  • Purify water
  • Sterilize bandages
  • Signal for rescue
  • Provide protection from animals
  • Keep you company
  • Be used to make tools and weapons

Fire is your friend in survivalist situations and knowing how to build a fire and choose the appropriate site are integral pieces of any survivalists knowledge kit. If you are trying to evade an enemy, remember that a fire can be used in their favor as well when they are trying to find you. Smoke and light may be necessary to you but can also been seen by others so in the event you are trying to keep a low profile consider this fact.

Choosing a Fire Site

Ideally you will want to find a dry spot that is protected from the wind to build your fire. You also will want to consider where you will be sleeping, eating, and where your shelter lies. Ideally you want the fire to be in a convenient yet safe spot. You will also want to find a spot that has easy access to your fuel supply- wood.

If you are in a wooded area you will want to clear the area in preparation for your fire. Clear a space big enough to hold your fire and so that you don’t risk the spread from sparks or wind. You may also want to consider building a fire wall using logs or rock to conceal the fire as well as to redirect the heat towards you.

Building your Fire

The situation and environment you are in will determine which type of fire is best for your needs. Here are four basic types of fires: tepee, lean-to, cross-ditch and pyramid.

  • Tepee– Tepee fires are good even if the wood is wet. Like the name suggests, arrange tinder and kindling in a cone-like shape and light the center. The outside logs will fall in and feed the fire as it burns.
  • Lean-to– Lean-to fires are good for when you are experiencing windy conditions. Start by placing a green stick in the ground at a 30-degree angle. Point the stick in the direction of the wind and place tinder under the green stick then lean kindling against the stick. Light the tinder to ignite the kindling adding more as it burns.
  • Cross-ditch– This system allows air in the cross to provide a draft and keep the fire burning. Begin by scratching a cross into the ground about 30 centimeters in length and about seven centimeters deep. Place a large amount of tinder in the middle of the cross and build a kindling pyramid above it.
  • Pyramid– Pyramid fires burn downward and are a kind of set-it-and-forget-it type of fire. Start with a couple of branches that run parallel to each other on the ground. Run some branches across these logs parallel to each other again. Repeat this process several more times with smaller branches making sure they form a right angle each time. Start the fire on top and it will burn downwards.

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