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Thread: Fire Safety and Responsibility

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    Default Fire Safety and Responsibility

    I was looking for some inspiration today so I picked up one of my books.
    http://www.amazon.com/Wildfire-fire-.../dp/0972683917
    A lot of this post will come from this book. I was going to read the part about the fire spirit but for some reason I stopped thumbing at the chapter "Sustaining Fire".

    coincidentally, I was jamming some Norma Jean and the song came on "A Small Spark vs. A Great Forest"

    Both mention the same bible verse, take that as you will, but it is James 3: 5,6:
    Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a tiny spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It can corrupt a whole body, setting the whole course of a life on fire...itself set on fire by hell.
    Inspired yet?

    From the book:
    ...Creating a safe hearth with emergency awareness and first response convenient has become a more meaningful lesson every time I'm tending a fire around more youthful or inexperienced individuals. Knowing what fuel to gather (avoid poisonous plants!) for light, heat, or longevity is an important thing. Botany is such a necessary knowledge for the fire-maker.
    ...Perhaps you'd like to explore some of the uses of the fire discussed thus far? That means, of course, you must understand the needs of your fire. First, please control your fire. Be respectful and mindful of the embodiment of Gaia. ...
    ... Always treat fire with respect. If you ignore it, it will either go out, or go out of control. Either is a very bad thing. You need to figure this out, clearly and decisively, okay? Do not mistreat fire, Do not misuse fire.
    ...
    So, I'm not the best with searching old posts to see if it's covered, I tried, and failed miserably and I didn't see it covered in-depth, like it should be on any survival database. So I'm bringing up the topic now, and I would like this to be serious discussion about fire tending.
    Many of the indigenous peoples in this area were a people of one fire. They would walk for as many as 18 days once a year to a "temple city" where fire was built by the holiest holy-man with sacred blessed tools which were destroyed by the single fire it created. A great fire was set ablaze on the hills and the representative from each tribe would get a coal and would set off back home.
    They could build as many fires from that one coal as they needed, and would have to keep that single fire lit all year long. They devised coal extenders so that a hot coal would be carried all day long in a sort of "cigar". at camp they would make fire with that coal, cook, warm up, eat, etc. and preserve the fire at all times.
    Among the natives in this area, the fire-tenders were some of the most highly regarded in the village. Fire tending is a very important responsibility and they knew it. The fire tender did not hunt, or fish, or gather wood, or forage. Their time was dedicated to making sure the fire was contained and controlled... TENDED.

    Whether you use sticks, or flint and steel, or a bic. If you start a fire, IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KEEP IT UNDER CONTROL. If there is something else requiring your attention, select a dependable, responsible person to fill in for you. Never leave a burning fire unattended.

    If you are going to build a fire, you need to clear a LARGE area around the fire of debris. If it will burn it's gotta get away from the fire, or be in it. You need to have on hand a good way to put out the fire if it does get out of control anyway. And for petes sake, don't build a bonfire when the wind is 20mph out there...
    One of the boat landings was set on fire a few years back by a cigarette thrown out the window. It only takes a small coal to start a fire with sufficient air flow, and good tinder, like pine needles. If you've ever started a fire with sticks or flint and steel, you know that every one of them starts as a tiny spark, the equivalent of a few atoms splitting and releasing their energy as a bright flash and heat. If you've ever blown a friction fire into a tinder bundle and started a campfire, then you know it only takes a gentle breeze to go from an ember the size of a speck of dust, to a huge hand sized ball of fire and it only takes seconds...

    I know Rick posted some diagrams a while back about different fire structures. I couldn't find that post either.. lost in conversation somewhere.. Can I get you to post those pics here please?

    I would like this conversation to stay on fire safety, fire types and their uses and fire fuels and purposes.

    Typically, the Kolomoki city used the star fire rather than expending energy chopping wood. 6 logs lain across each other and across the pit radially, with the fire in the center. When they burned in two, the were enkindled and the fire continued. This was primarily for ceremonial fires where large fires with good hardwood coals were employed.

    Boy, I've worn myself out..
    Feel free to comment, I'll come back to this later and talk some more.

    If you don't treat fire with respect, your survival situation could get a whole lot worse.
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    naturalist primitive your_comforting_company's Avatar
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    thanks sjj.. I think about california burning every year, and okefenokee every other year, and ....

    funny how when you look for inspiration, you find it in the most subtle places
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    Quote Originally Posted by your_comforting_company View Post
    thanks sjj.. I think about california burning every year, and okefenokee every other year, and ....

    funny how when you look for inspiration, you find it in the most subtle places
    Ironically the Okefenokee NEEDS fire to survive. No fire and it fills in.... Or even worse the amount of combustible material builds to the point that it is a ticking time bomb. No fire, it fills in(eventually) and is gone forever. I just wish they could figure out some way to do a controlled burn there. Sometimes mans intervention in an ecosystem with fire prevention, can be as bad or worse than letting it burn periodically. Some of the fires there actually burned UNDER the water and emerged somewhere else, they were never really sure how this happened. Between the peat moss and methane it has some very flammable material.Some fires in peat bogs have actually burned for years underground. (Peat in parts of Europe is used instead of wood or coal)
    I am not saying that we need to be careless,or arsonists or any such nonsense. Just trying to say that sometimes, in special circumstances that fire is actually Good for an ecosystem. Some pines do not reseed until the cones are burned. An endangered species of butterfly was almost driven to extinction because of a lack of fire.It ate only a certain type of plant in a specific geographic location. No fire, no plant,no butterfly. Despite their best efforts, fire got away from them,creating the habitat needed for the plant. The plant regrew in that area and the butterflies started increasing again. Mystery of that was solved and a species saved from extinction. No thanks to man. Nature saved it.
    Periodic small fires do the same thing that they advise people to do in fire danger areas, that is to prevent a build up of combustible material. The more build up the worse the fire, and harder to put out.

    Now back to the original intention of your post - I have seen it recommended that all combustible material be removed for 3 ft. around a campfire. I don't think that is far enough, personally. Living in those peat areas I checked UNDER where the fire was going to be built as well as clearing out an area 6 ft. around the campfire. I'd hate to have the "ground" under my tent burn out underneath me! That means I would literally wake up in the fire itself....but not for long. I have had a fire get in peaty ground, it took many 5 Gal. buckets of water to put it out. That's with us catching it almost as soon as it started.(Also why "Fire Tenders" were so important with those tribes in that area. Tribes in other areas actually intentionally started wildfires) Oh just so everyone knows I am originally from the area that YCC calls home,It's my home too, I'm a transplant. Timicuan,Yamasee, Seminole (long ago) Creek and some other tribes called that area home.

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    Specifically (for me) Swift Creek, and Weeden locally of the muscogee (pre seminoles) there are sites in fields that are farmed that cannot be touched just up the road. no digging, no farming, etc on those mounds.

    I'm wondering if you are talking about the fire cherry which also provides several birds with food. also lends a nice fragrance to laundry. Fire is required to germinate the seeds.
    fire was also used to cut down trees.. burn them down at the trunk. and to stress the intimacy they had with the fire, look at dugout canoes. anyhow I'm getting off topic.

    WE ARE NOT SAYING TO GO START FIRES TO HELP MOTHER NATURE.

    fire can get out of control quickly as Poco pointed out and can take a real effort to get it under control IF you catch it in time. Controlled burns and preventative burns should be practiced in controlled manners with the cooperation of professionals. If you are not a professional and your fire gets away from you, you can be in some serious trouble!

    I agree 110% that it is necessary, but they have almost eliminated it here to help with the reestablishment of bald eagles. I know where a few nests are and the corp and DNR will not allow the plantations to burn anymore.. lots of invasive species are taking over underneath...
    I also clear out at least 6 feet and more often probably more.. I like to clear under my tent even with a pit fire circled with a berm. This is my preferred method because if I need to extinguish it quickly, just shovel the dirt over the coal bed after clearing out stray ends. put strays on top and pour on water. it's not blown all over as bad by winds.
    It also allows me to dig a side "pit" to rake coals over under cooking rocks or pans for a stove or oven. It allows less light so you are less likely to be seen and has the disadvantage of not "radiating" the heat quite as far out, but up close or over it is cooking!
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    Quote Originally Posted by YCC
    I know Rick posted some diagrams a while back about different fire structures. I couldn't find that post either.. lost in conversation somewhere.. Can I get you to post those pics here please?
    I'd be happy to post but don't recall them. What were the diagrams about?

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    different types of fires. seems like there were 3 or 4 different styles.
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    Oh, yeah. Now I remember. Here's a link...

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...ht=types+fires

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    sweet thanks!
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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    The National Park Service had firefighters come through camp last year in Big Cypress Preserve and check our camp fires. As well as to warn of dangerous conditions. As with most government agencies, the policy isn't very good. They put out too many small fires and rely to heavily on prescribed burns. They found themselves facing a really big fire that shut down Alligator Alley for several days. Which is a major road now that links the East and West coast in South Florida.

    The area had needed that fire badly. Where we hunt fires are so common that you will almost always be walking through smoldering trees. I have seen smoke coming from trees that were not any warmer to the touch than any other tree. I wonder how that works...

    I don't remember what type of trees to be exact. But, it was most likely Slash Pine or Sabal Palm... Wonder if that is natures way of cooking swamp cabbage?

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    Default fuels that are bad

    some stuff you burn in your fire will not only pose an environmental hazard, they can kill you or give you extremely bad rashes.
    I'm no plant expert, but you don't really need to be. Learn to identify Poison Ivy, Oak, Sumac, Virginia Creeper, Nightshade, and any of the other poisonous plants in your area.
    Here's a good place to start looking, but I'm sure there are much better sources.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_poisonous_plants

    If you burn poison ivy and inhale the smoke, you will suffer from severe rash in your throat and lungs. It can kill you in a slow and painful way. Don't go raking up tinder (leaves and sticks) off the ground. Make sure there are no poison plant sprouts growing on the ground that you may inadvertently rake up and burn.

    Which brings me to my next point... burning leaves.
    while pine needles burn hot and fast and seem to make good fuel, any of the little hairlike cinders that floats back down, given the right conditions (or wrong in this case) can start a fire. leaves and such that are lightweight and form a webbing will be the worst to blow away in the wind. the potential is high for fire to break out if you use leaves. I've toyed with cedar branches as insect repellent and they go up quick.

    Fire is serious business. Don't be playing around!!

    I've had a tent or two ruined by falling embers. It could ruin some of your kit, and possibly burn down your whole camp.

    Be safe!
    Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. Helen Keller

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