Last Thursday my lovely eldest son and I went on a Bushcraft day at Sherwood Pines organised by the Forestry Commission. On the day we learnt a lot about fire building in the forest, and most importantly how to do so safely! This is very, very important advice to ensure the preservation of our beautiful forest and protection of the wildlife, flora and fauna that live there.
Aside from the common sense measures here are some of the pointers our expert ranger Karina gave us:
- When selecting sticks to use in your fire, try the “snap test” (as I like to call it!). If the stick bends it is too wet on the inside to burn. If it snaps then keep it for your fire!
- The fire needs to be in a “pit” to keep it contained and reduce the chances of it spreading. This needs to be surrounded by bricks.
- Ensure the area around the fire is safe and the seated area is a good distance away from the fire.
- Keep a bucket of sand and butts full of rain water nearby in case of fire spread.
- Ensure you have the permission of the land owner, forester etc before setting fires and tell the fire brigade what your plans are so they will be alerted to any risks.
- Be organised with everything needed laid out when setting a fire. Make sure your kindling is sorted into neat piles of thin, medium and thick.
- Keep the kindling long to ensure you don’t burn your fingers.
- Keep kindling and other flammable substances well away from the fire area.
- Keep the pile low when stacking twigs.
- Around a fire get down on one knee, thus allowing yourself an easy escape move if things go wrong.
- Lighting fires is best done with your hands bare (rather than gloved) but if you do need to retrieve something from a fire ensure your gloves are non flammable.
- Make sure you extinguish your fire completely when you leave.
Obviously fire lighting is best left to those who are experienced in it so ideally join a group such as the Forestry Commission to ensure you are knowledgeable and safe to yourself and those around you.