The ability to build a fire is paramount. No matter where you are, or no matter what your survival situation, you must be able to build a fire. You must consider fire to be the number two priority of life.
There are five basic uses for a fire under survival conditions:
- Warmth (warm your body, dry your clothes, cook your food, etc.).
- Companionship (you are never really alone when you have a fire).
- Signaling (ground to air and ground to ground).
- Lighting (we are a light-oriented society).
- Protection (it protects us against all those wild beasts that are not out there).
The fireplace location should be carefully selected. Do not build a fire under a tree as it may catch fire. Heat may also melt snow from the branches and make everything wet. If the fire must be built upon snow, construct a platform of green logs or stones. Avoid wet, porous rocks as they may explode when heated. If the ground is dry, scrape down to bare dirt to avoid starting a grass or forest fire. Build the fire against a rock or wall of logs which will reflect heat into your shelter. Most fuels cannot be started burning directly from a match. You will need some easily inflammable tinder such as small twigs, wood shavings, bark, dead pine needles, dry leaves, grass or tissue paper to get the fire going. Place the tinder in a low pyramid. Powder from a cartridge may help ignite the tinder. For fuel, gather dry standing dead wood or dried dung. The inside of dead tree trunks or large branches may be dry even if the outside is wet. Have all materials (tinder, kindling, and fuel) on hand before attempting to light your fire.