When choosing a place for a fire, fulfill several conditions. Place it near a place where there is a lot of firewood. If the weather is good and there is almost no wind, you can make a fire almost anywhere; but if you are caught in bad weather, look for a natural shelter: a grove, a cliff, or just a large rock. Under no circumstances light a fire under overhanging branches – sparks can ignite them.
Once you find a suitable spot, clear the ground of anything that might burn – leaves or dry grass. If the ground is very damp, make a stand with live branches to light the fire on. Place small green twigs, no more than 60 cm long, on the ground like grill grates. This will allow the air to circulate under the fire. Green branches will not burn out soon and will remain in place as a hearth. If the wind is very strong, you can dig a small hole and make a fire in it. So you can protect the fire from the wind, especially at the moment when you will kindle it. Fallen trunks can be used to protect the fire. But remember: a fire, lit under the protection of a fallen tree, must be watched all the time, and when leaving, carefully extinguish.
COLLECTION OF FUEL FOR THE FIELD
These are materials that ignite easily: with their help, you can easily set fire to branches collected for a fire. Such materials are dried grass stems, birch bark, pine cones, bracken fern – even dried orange peel or an old, empty bird’s nest. In a word, everything that easily flares up when a match is brought to it. (Some suggest using dry leaves, but they only smolder, not burn.)
One of the best materials for lighting a fire is pine resin. It is a kind of sap that can be found under the bark. Resin is often oozing from damaged areas of the trunk. If there are many fallen pine branches nearby, chop up the knots and you will see resin-soaked wood, or scoop up resin from the bark of living trees.
Stock up on material for kindling, collect brushwood. For a fire, dried branches on trees are best suited – they are drier than those that have fallen to the ground. Break off branches 30–40 cm long. If there are no such small branches on the trees, saw off the larger ones and chop them into pieces.
If you cannot find a suitable ignition material, cut thin strips of wood from a thick branch or log and cut them into pieces no larger than a match. To light a fire, you need a handful of these. You can use a cotton or woolen cloth to ignite (just before the hike, check if it is on or not), toilet paper, plain paper, cardboard and a card soaked in vaseline.
The best woods are birch, cedar, cypress, spruce, larch, blue spruce, holly and yew branches. The ability to distinguish between tree species is a very useful skill. Scouts recognize whether a branch is suitable for a fire in the following way: they hit it, and if there is a crackling sound, it means that it is dry and will burn well. If the branch is bent or does not crack, it means that it is damp from the inside or still alive and is not suitable for a fire.