Prepare the location of the fire carefully. Clear away leaves, twigs, moss, and dry grass so that you do not start a grass or forest fire. If the surrounding vegetation is dry, scrape the fire location down to the bare dirt. If the fire must be built on wet ground, build a platform of logs or flat stones.
To get the most warmth and to protect the fire from wind, build it against a rock or wall of logs that will serve as a reflector to direct the heat into your shelter. Cooking fires should be walled in by logs or stones, not only to concentrate the heat but also to provide a platform for the cooking pot.
Some fuels cannot be ignited directly from a match. You will need some easily flammable kindling to start a fire. Good natural kindling materials are thin sticks of dry wood; dry bark; wood shavings; palm leaves; twigs; loose, ground- lying lichens; dead, upright grass straw; or ferns. If sticks are used for kindling, split them and cut long thin shavings, leaving the shavings attached (shave stick). Store kindling in a shelter to keep it dry. A little JP-5 poured on the fuel before it is ignited will help it start burning. Do not pour petroleum fuel on a fire already started even if it is only smoldering.
For fuel, use dry, standing, dead wood and dry, dead branches. Dead wood is easy to split and break-pound it on a rock. The inside of fallen tree trunks and large branches may be dry even if the outside is wet; use the heart of the wood. Green wood that will burn, especially if freely split, can be found almost everywhere. In treeless areas, you will look for other natural fuels, such as dry grass that can be twisted into bunches, dried animal dung, and animal fats; sometimes you can even find coal, oil shale, or oily sand lying on the surface. If no natural fuels are available and you are with the aircraft, burn aircraft fuel and lubricating oil or a mixture of each. Hydraulic fluid is specifically designed and manufactured not to burn; therefore, it should not be used.
Prepare a fireplace. Get all materials together before trying to start the fire. Make sure that matches, kindling, and fuel are dry. Have enough fuel on hand to keep the fire burning. Arrange a small amount of kindling in a low pyramid. Arrange the kindling close enough together to permit flames to lick from one piece to another. Leave a small opening for lighting.
Save matches by using a candle (if available) to light the fire. If you have no candle, use a shave stick or make a faggot of thin, dry twigs, tied loosely. Shield the match from the wind as you light the candle or faggot. Apply the lighted candle or faggot to the lower windward side of the kindling, shielding it from the wind.
Small pieces of wood or other fuel can be placed gently on the kindling before lighting or can be added after the kindling begins to burn. Lay on smaller pieces first, adding larger pieces of fuel as the fire catches. Do not smother the fire by crushing the kindling with heavy wood. Do not make the fire too big. Do not waste fuel.
A flare can be used to start a fire; however, it should be used only as a last resort. Some emergency kits contain small fire starters, wind- proof matches, and other aids.
First, find or prepare one of the following kinds of tinder: very dry, powdered wood; finely shredded, dry bark; the shredded pith of a dead palm frond; lint from unraveled cloth, cotton, twine, or rope; first-aid gauze bandage; fuzzy or woolly material scraped from plants; fine bird feathers or birds' nests; field-mouse nests; or fine wood dust produced by insects, often found under bark of dead trees. Tinder must be bone dry. Tinder will burn more easily if you add a few drops of aircraft fuel or mix it with powder taken from a cartridge. Once tinder is prepared, put some in a waterproof container for future use.
Once you have the tinder, light it in a place sheltered from the wind. Several additional methods of starting a fire are described in the following paragraphs.
Striking sparks with flint and steel is the easiest and most reliable way of starting a fire without matches. Use the flint fastened to the bottom of the waterproof match case. If you have no flint, look for apiece of hard rock from which you can strike sparks. If it breaks or scars when struckContinue Reading