Jump to content



Photo
- - - - -

Fire Building


  • Please log in to reply
38 replies to this topic

#1 Stosh

Stosh

    BSA Heretic

  • Members
  • 11829 posts

Posted 28 October 2016 - 10:00 AM

There's a lot of talk on the forum about the boys' ability to struggle with fire building.  Other than the obvious techniques described in the Scout Handbook, what other techniques does one use to get the boys excited about their pyromania tendencies in the woods?

 

I have dissuaded the boys from using rope and twine because of the amount of herbicides and pesticides use to grow those fibers, using paper towels and newspapers is another because those are not readily available in the outdoors.

 

I use my 2' copper tube with one end flattened to intensify the bellow effect and bring a spark or coal from another fire to start a second fire.  Bark, grass, milkweed and such also work well. 

 

Most boys have magnesium starters but don't know how to use them properly.

 

Making bow and drill is also fun for the boys.  Some have even gotten a fire started once they figure out the system.  In competitions, any boy who starts a fire without a match or other modern conveniences always gets placed ahead of those who use them.

 

I also give extra credit for those who, start a fire, get a 2' flame without having to "play" with it to keep it going.

 

I once experienced a pyro-pro who started a council fire, producing 10' high flames with no matches, just a flint and steel.  Really impressive.

 

I have also experienced scouters who could produce eye-brow reducing fires using white gas.  Not a pretty sight.

 

 


  • 0

Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#2 Cambridgeskip

Cambridgeskip

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 745 posts

Posted 28 October 2016 - 11:05 AM

The problem I've found with my scouts is that they are quite good at getting a fire lit, but the problem is then building it. They have a tendancy to ignore the preparation part of getting twigs of different sizes ready to feed it with the result of it then going out.

 

In terms of tinder the preferred substances are sliver birch bark and for those who prepare before hand getting the fluff out of the tumble drier filter at home to bring with them. You get a pretty decent long last flame out of that.

 

Incidentally while being a long way from natural I've found pringles make great fire lighters! There's such a huge amount of fat in them that they act like a candle with the potatoe part of it acting like the wick. 


  • 1

#3 DuctTape

DuctTape

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 529 posts

Posted 28 October 2016 - 12:55 PM

Yeah. Tinder is usually not a problem, neither is ignition. A lot of folks seem to focus on these aspects as it is kind of fun to try different ignition systems. But ignition isn't the goal. As was stated, the problem is often moving from ignition and tinder to a sustainable and controlled fire.

IMO, too much focus is placed on different ignition and tinder methods and not enough on the next stages.

Use matches until they are proficient with building, sustaining, and using the fire. Then, move to different ignition and tinder.

One method is to use a single pole, 12 feet in length with a 4 inch diamter. Scouts use axe, saw and knife to prepare tinder, kindling and fuel to boil water for cocoa all from that one pole, and using a single match.
  • 0

#4 blw2

blw2

    Troop Treasurer

  • Members
  • 1921 posts

Posted 28 October 2016 - 01:03 PM

I'm not gonna pretend to be a firemaking guru, especially with primitive methods

but I think tinder is a HUGE variable when it comes to trying to light with spark or friction..... 

 

not to disagree with this statement my any means though....

IMO, too much focus is placed on different ignition and tinder methods and not enough on the next stages.

 

But in a competition using spark, flame aint gonna happen if you don't have good tinder.... no matter how long you have.


  • 0

#5 Stosh

Stosh

    BSA Heretic

  • Members
  • 11829 posts

Posted 28 October 2016 - 01:06 PM

Nothing more frustrating than to get the fire built with extreme care only to have the impatient scout who shows up with a handful of pine needles to help speed up the process.  :eek:


  • 3

Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#6 blw2

blw2

    Troop Treasurer

  • Members
  • 1921 posts

Posted 28 October 2016 - 02:07 PM

Ever notice how hard it can be to get a handful of pine needles on fire.... or almost anything else for that matter..... but yet 1 loose tiny ember gently landing someplace in the forest without any help from a person blowing or tending....can burn hundreds or thousands of acres

One of life's little mysteries....


  • 1

#7 Stosh

Stosh

    BSA Heretic

  • Members
  • 11829 posts

Posted 28 October 2016 - 02:55 PM

I don't think most scouts and/or scouters have any problem igniting fires, it's the 3 hours of blowing, tossing in sticks and repeated snuffing it down, turning it into a signal fire instead of a cooking fire. 

 

I find that boys who have been taught the how have never been exposed to the why.  Why pine and not oak?  Why does the dutch oven need more coals every half hour and charcoal goes a full hour?  Why is a belt ax more useful than a full or 3/4 ax?  Why make all those fire starters when a candle stub works just as well.  Why does Mr. Stosh have a walking stick with a hook on the end.  What's that go to do with fire building?  Why is wood lying on the ground not as good as breaking off branches.  Why do those branches have to snap to be useful?

 

None of this is covered in the Scout Handbook.  The mechanics of fire building is a good start, but the art of fire building his a skill that will be far more useful and interesting to the older scouts, especially the Eagle scouts that can't get up in the morning and get a cook fire going for breakfast.


  • 0

Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#8 Stosh

Stosh

    BSA Heretic

  • Members
  • 11829 posts

Posted 29 October 2016 - 10:28 AM

I'm not gonna pretend to be a firemaking guru, especially with primitive methods

but I think tinder is a HUGE variable when it comes to trying to light with spark or friction..... 

 

not to disagree with this statement my any means though....

 

But in a competition using spark, flame aint gonna happen if you don't have good tinder.... no matter how long you have.

Gotta teach the boys how to make char-cloth.


  • 1

Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#9 qwazse

qwazse

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 6306 posts

Posted 29 October 2016 - 11:13 AM

I'm having the opposite problem ... Teaching boys to put a fire dead out.
Last week, I was last to leave the site because I was rigging the dog's pack as well as mine. I stopped to check the fire circle, and smoke was rising from one corner. I thought I 'd have to unrig my gear to put it out. Then lo and behold, on the edge of the ring was someone's ozark bottle and just enough water to put the remaining coals dead out.

The boys were late to the extraction, so I saved the stern lecture about paying closer attention and how the dog carried more water because I had to carry an somebody's empty empty bottle.

At least the ASPL owned up to it once we got home and sorted gear. I told him no worries, I needed to slow the dog down anyway, and am looking forward to the boy's song at the next meeting. :)
  • 0

#10 Oldscout448

Oldscout448

    Member

  • Members
  • 285 posts

Posted 29 October 2016 - 11:24 AM

Coming from the era when all the cooking was done over a fire, and the  ability to start a fire anywhere, any time and tailor it however the cook wanted it ( high hot flame for boiling, low flame for frying, coals for the dutch oven ) was the hallmark of any first class scout.  We read the handbook then the fieldbook on types of woods, types of fires tipi, log cabin ,a frame ,lean-to. keyhole.    I remain puzzled and saddened by todays scouts seeming inability to master firebuilding.   

 

At the last few Klondike Derbys one of the stations involves building a small fire and cooking one small pancake on it, in 30 minutes.  the patrols all know this is coming, we do it year after year.  They can use anything but K1 or gasoline.  wax fire logs? candle stubs? pitch pine?  poplar shavings from woodshop class? " Sure thing scout go ahead".    Still only about half manage to pull it off.  

 

About five years ago I was watching a bunch of older scouts " building " a fire for an Ordeal ceremony. Their technique was to pile a bunch of logs in a heap, douse it with kero and hope for the best.  I resisted the urge to jump in and do it for them .  I suggested we needed a council type fire.  They looked at me with blank puzzled expressions.  and these were mostly life and eagle scouts.

 

A what?

 

Like a log cabin fire, but with solid layers,  Oak or hickory in the lower layers, poplar on the upper two or three, and a pine tipi on the very top

 

A log what?   

 

 

How do we tell oak from pine?

 

Ummm can you show us how?

 

So I held an unplanned class on wood id, fire building, and how to saddle notch a log.   I didnt mind the teaching at all, I was just surprised that none of them from five or six different troops had ever had any training at all, in what I thought was a basic scout skill

 

Perhaps we use stoves a wee bit too much?


Edited by Oldscout448, 29 October 2016 - 11:37 AM.

  • 2

#11 Stosh

Stosh

    BSA Heretic

  • Members
  • 11829 posts

Posted 29 October 2016 - 12:00 PM

I cook on a propane stove every day.  Why would I want to do it again in the woods, when I can do it for fun with a campfire.

 

Nothing can beat a campfire cooked meal, not even a Dutch oven.


  • 0

Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#12 TAHAWK

TAHAWK

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 2788 posts

Posted 29 October 2016 - 03:48 PM

Make it a game.  Water-boiling (add soap).  String-burning.  Balloon-popping. Signaling. 

 

Try starting the educational part with the importance building starting very small and working up in size from there.

Add the triangle.

 

Teach good fire lays, most of which were misplaced by BSA decades ago. E.g. Log Cabin;  Hunter's Fire.


  • 0

#13 Cambridgeskip

Cambridgeskip

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • 745 posts

Posted 29 October 2016 - 04:04 PM

I cook on a propane stove every day.  Why would I want to do it again in the woods, when I can do it for fun with a campfire.

 

Nothing can beat a campfire cooked meal, not even a Dutch oven.

 

Stosh, I think you inadvertently hit the nail on the head there. Fires are fun, but not necessarily essential.

 

Once upon a time being able to light a cooking fire in any conditions was an essential outdoors skill because back packing stoves were either too expensive for most people to buy or too heavy to want to carry. So fire was often the only option.

 

Now though stoves are extraordinarily light. My scouts use these. At 220g it's amazingly light! And at £25 its pretty cheap as well.

 

That doesn't mean we don't ever use fires to cook on. We do regularly, but it's because it's fun, not because it's essential. And I suggest the same goes for scouts throughout the developed world. When something goes from essential to fun its importance in the skill set naturally slips with it.


  • 0

#14 Stosh

Stosh

    BSA Heretic

  • Members
  • 11829 posts

Posted 29 October 2016 - 10:05 PM

Stosh, I think you inadvertently hit the nail on the head there. Fires are fun, but not necessarily essential.

 

Once upon a time being able to light a cooking fire in any conditions was an essential outdoors skill because back packing stoves were either too expensive for most people to buy or too heavy to want to carry. So fire was often the only option.

 

Now though stoves are extraordinarily light. My scouts use these. At 220g it's amazingly light! And at £25 its pretty cheap as well.

 

That doesn't mean we don't ever use fires to cook on. We do regularly, but it's because it's fun, not because it's essential. And I suggest the same goes for scouts throughout the developed world. When something goes from essential to fun its importance in the skill set naturally slips with it.

 

220g for the stove, how much does the fuel and fuel container weigh?  How much fuel does one need to cook for the 9 days of Philmont.  BWCA uses wood but the canoe handles the load..  I don't know what Sea Base does, but they aren't backpacking.

 

I have a small rocket stove that cooks very nicely and burns wood, works just as well as a backpack stove, weighs about the same and fuel is found in the woods, not the backpack pocket.  :)


  • 0

Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#15 Oldscout448

Oldscout448

    Member

  • Members
  • 285 posts

Posted 30 October 2016 - 02:55 AM

Stosh, is your stove the type with a little battery powered fan? I almost bought one when my trusty old 8R died. I liked the idea of not hauling fuel but I worried that the fan would malfunction at the worst time. So I ended up buying a whisperlite.
  • 0

#16 Stosh

Stosh

    BSA Heretic

  • Members
  • 11829 posts

Posted 30 October 2016 - 07:21 AM

Nope, it's homemade out of old cans.  I have a big one for plop camping #10 can and a smaller one for backpacking.  Cans and tent pegs is all it takes, even the #10 can weighs next to nothing, except it's size is too big for backpacking. 

 

I made the larger stove one summer camp about 3-4 years ago and really liked it.  They cooked on a shepherd's stove, I used my new rocket stove and it worked great.  I then made a smaller version for backpacking.  It's small, but it gets the job done nicely.


  • 0

Stosh

 

There's a reason why I don't always answer the phone, doorbell or comments on forums.  :)


#17 Hedgehog

Hedgehog

    Erinaceomorpha Erinaceidae Member

  • Members
  • 684 posts

Posted 30 October 2016 - 07:50 AM

I see good fire-building as a collection of maxims:

 

  • You need six things to a fire: ignition source, tinder kindling, fuel, oxygen and patience.
  • If a piece of wood is wet on the outside, it is dry on the inside.
  • Never use a piece of wood that doesn't break with a snap -- if it bends it won't burn.
  • Look for wood that is smaller than your wrist that you can break easily
  • Look for wood that is off the ground (i.e. branch that fell against another tree)
  • If the ground is wet, build the fire off the ground (lay some wood on the ground and put the tinder on top of the wood)
  • Leaves and needles are for making smoke, not fire

Our guys typically carry cotton balls with petroleum jelly (very helpful in rain and snow) but also know how to use wood shavings to start a fire.  We teach them to build a fire starting small and adding wood as the fire grows stronger.  Once we get a teepee fire going - starting with smaller sticks and putting larger sticks on top of it, they build a log cabin fire around it.


  • 1

#18 RichardB

RichardB

    Member

  • Members
  • 230 posts

Posted 31 October 2016 - 07:24 AM

Gotta teach the boys how to make char-cloth.

 

This is a worthwhile exercise.  


  • 0

#19 Eagle94-A1

Eagle94-A1

    Been there. Done that.

  • Members
  • 1731 posts

Posted 31 October 2016 - 09:32 AM

String burning was one of the favorites. Everyone did it, and the fastest time, was 1 minute 42 seconds. That included a time bonus of -4 minutes caused they used a bow to start it. On the opposite end, worst patrol did it in 29 minutes and ??? seconds. They too used a bow and had some issues. We allowed 1 match as a freebee, additional matches cost time. Bonus time for non-match/lighter methods.

 

Next year is going to get interesting. The theme for camporee is Emergency Prep/Wilderness survival. Since it will be Halloween Weekend again and hoping to get the funeral home to sponsor again, I'm thinking ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. One of the ideas is each scout is to have a survival kit/ emergency prep kit/bugout bag, and they are only allowed to use stuff they can find or is in their bags for all of the events.


  • 0

"Train 'em. Trust 'em. LET THEM LEAD!" William "Green Bar Bill" Hillcourt


#20 SSScout

SSScout

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 3959 posts

Posted 01 November 2016 - 03:50 PM

I am firmly on the side of re-writing the BSHB section on fire tending/building/extinction.

 

Here is my re-write....

 

The Five Things Needed For A Camp Fire
In school , one is taught three things are needed for a fire:  Oxygen, fuel, and heat. 
For a Scout, there are FIVE things needed.  How do they compare with the three from your science class?   Play the “What If” game.   

Number one, before anything else:
1)  The Means To Extinguish The Fire.   Before anything else, how will you put it out?  Water, shovel, rake, sand/dirt.  Have sufficient means and tools collected.  Is it out?  Test firebed with the BACK of your hand… Douse, stir and douse again.
2)  A Safe Area.   Remember that 10’  diameter cleared area.  Use an established fire pit.  If a “new” fire, remember your Leave No Trace guidelines:  Fold back the sod, save the  sod to cover the burned on bare soil area.   Use an above ground fire holder:  old wheelbarrow, oil drum, charcoal grill bed, etc.
3)   Safe Atmosphere:  Land owners’ permission?  Park Ranger’s permission?  Is there a Drought?  No Fire Ban?  Make it as SMALL as necessary, not as BIG as you can!
4)  Collect Fuel Before Lighting :  Tinder, kindling, fire wood.  It is hard to stop cooking to collect more wood if you run low.  Set things up carefully before attempting to light.  
5)  The Means To Ignite The Fire:  Be Prepared!   Practice in your back yard before you are on the trail. Ceremonial fire?   Practice it first before the big night!  “No, I thought YOU had the flint and steel!”.

 

 

Look to your old 1958  Green Bar Bill Fieldbook....


  • 1




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


IPB Skin By Virteq