Campfire Building and Safety

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Podcasts
Campfire Building and Safety podcast .mp3 (1 Mb) 5/13/09

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Host:
Welcome to our program on building a campfire.

Maybe you're new to camping and don't know how to make a campfire. Or maybe you've just never had much success in making one. Either way, this program will give you some tips you can use on your next outing.

To give us some expert advice, we have (name and program) to walk us through the steps of making a good campfire. Welcome, (name).

Campfire expert:
(greeting)

Host:
Joining her/him, we have a well-known expert in fire safety to give you advice on preventing your campfire from starting a wildfire. Welcome, Smokey Bear.

Smokey:
Thanks for inviting me.

Host:
(name), let's start off with how you prepare for your campfire.

Campfire expert:
(Talks about:
-preparing the campfire,
-picking a location with a fire ring if available,
-getting local firewood so we don't transport problem insects to new locations.)

Host:
Smokey, are there any fire safety steps to take at this point?

Smokey:
You should make sure that burnable material has been cleared away within two yards or two meters of your campfire. This includes your firewood. Make sure there isn't a ban on fires because of dry conditions.

Host:
How far should this fire be away from your tent or cabin?

Smokey:
You should check your local fire regulations for the rules that apply. As a general rule, if you can stand halfway between the fire and your tent without the heat being uncomfortable, you're OK.

Host:
So, (name), we have our location prepared and our fuel supply. What's next?

Campfire expert:
(Talks about:
-arranging the wood,
-igniting the fire with different fire-starting options,
-making kindling,
-safety in cutting wood,
-feeding the fire,
-the size of the fire less than a yard or meter in size)

Host:
Smokey, are there any safety considerations once the fire is going?

Smokey:
It's a good idea to have a bucket of water nearby for putting out the fire. Pay attention to the wind and where sparks from your fire are going. If sparks and flaming debris are blowing into nearby grass and trees, put the fire out. Never leave the fire unattended even if it has burned down to embers. And keep children, especially young ones, a safe distance from the fire, so they don't fall into it. If your fire should get out of control, call for help immediately.

Host:
(name), what do we do with the campfire once we've gotten it going?

Campfire expert:
(Talks about:
-cook over it - fish you've caught, heating canned goods, roasting hot dogs on a stick, baking potatoes, frying eggs for breakfast.
-Enjoy it's warmth and light for telling stories, recapping the day, planning the next adventure, or just watching the fire.
-Don't use it as a garbage disposal, toxic fumes from plastics and other wastes. )

Host:
What do we do with the fire when we're done with it?

Campfire expert:
(Talks about:
-extinguish the fire before you leave it.
-Drown, stir, drown again. Stir to make sure hot coals have been put out completely.
-Take your garbage with you for proper disposal.
-If you're building another fire later, store the wood so it doesn't get wet.)

Host:
Smokey, what about banking your coals to use for starting the next fire?

Smokey:
That's risky, because a wind could fan those coals to life and spread sparks while you're not there. That kind of careless use of fire causes wildfires every year. And if you start a wildfire, you'll get the bill for putting it out and for the damage it causes. It much safer to use a match to start a new fire when you're ready.

Host:
(name), do you have any final thoughts on campfires?

Campfire expert:
(Talks about:
-if you're new to campfires, start small.
-You can always bring a portable camp stove for the cooking -Just use the campfire for storytelling and marshmallow roasting.
-Don't make a bigger fire than you're comfortable you can control.)

Host:
How about you, Smokey, any last words for our listeners?

Smokey:
Use your campfire wisely. Remember, only you can prevent wildfires.

Host:
I knew you'd get that in somewhere.

Smokey:
I always do.

Host:
Well, that's all for our advice on building a safe campfire. Thank you, (name) and Smokey Bear for joining us. I'm (host name). Thank you for listening to our program.

This program was brought to you by the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact -- representing Manitoba, Michigan, Minnesota, Ontario, and Wisconsin -- and Minnesota DNR's Parks and Trails Division.