The location of a fire should be carefully selected. Locate and prepare the fire carefully.
Building a Platform for a Fire Site
After a site is located, twigs, moss, grass, or duff should be cleaned away and scraped to bare soil if possible. If the fire must be built on snow, ice, or wet ground, you should build a platform of green logs or rocks. Beware of wet or porous rocks, they may explode when heated.
Rocks for the Purpose of Holding the Platform
There is no need to dig a hole or make a circle of rocks in preparation for fire building. Rocks may be placed in a circle and filled with dirt, sand, or gravel to raise the fire above the moisture from wet ground. The purpose of these rocks is to hold the platform only.
Getting the Most of Warmth from a Fire
To get the most warmth from the fire, it should be built against a rock or log reflector (Figure 14-2). This will direct the heat into the shelter. Cooking fires can be walled-in by logs or stones. This will provide a platform for cooking utensils and serve as a windbreak to help keep the heat confined.
Platform for Fire
A platform will be required to prevent the fire from melting down through the deep snow and extinguishing it. A platform is also needed if the ground is moist or swampy. The platform can be made of green logs, metal, or any material that will not burn through very readily. Care must be taken when selecting an area for fire building. If the area has a large accumulation of humus material and (or) peat, a platform is needed to avoid igniting the material as it will tend to smolder long after the flames of the fire are extinguished. A smoldering peat fire is almost impossible to put out and may burn for years.
The ignition source used to ignite the fire must be quick and easily operated with hand protection such as mittens. Any number of devices will work well-matches, candle, lighter, fire starter, metal matches, etc.
Fire Making with Matches (or Lighter)
IP should arrange a small amount of kindling in a low pyramid, close enough together so flames can jump from one piece to another. A small opening should be left for lighting and air circulation.
Using a Shave Stick
Matches can be conserved by using a “shave or feather stick,” or by using a loosely tied fagot or bundle of thin, dry twigs. The match must be shielded from wind while igniting the shave stick. The stick can then be applied to the lower windward side of the kindling (Figure 14-3).
Small Pieces of Wood to Assist with Kindling
Small pieces of wood or other fuel can be laid gently on the kindling before lighting or can be added as the kindling begins to burn. The IP can then place smaller pieces first, adding larger pieces of fuel as the fire begins to burn. To avoid smothering the fire by crushing the kindling with heavy wood, IP should use a soda can diameter brace to lean the additional fuel against. This will ensure adequate ventilation of the fire.