Safely Build a Fire


Fire provides heat, light, a means of cooking and boiling, safety, and signaling. "Be ready" to safely make a fire before your life depends on it. Always practice fire safety.


  • Learn fire safety and how to put out a fire.
  • Gather various fire making supplies and learn how to use them.
  • Practice safely making fires with a variety of methods.
  • Put a few different fire making supplies in your emergency kits.
  • Teach fire making and fire safety to your family and others.

Safely Build a Fire

Fire Making Dry Base

Dry Base

Building and lighting a safe fire requires four things:

  1. A DRY BASE. Build fire on dry ground or other dry material. Make a five-foot radius around the fire to prevent spreading.

  2. Fire Making Tinder


    TINDER. Tinder includes very dry grass, weeds, cattail down, or shreds from the inside of tree bark. Pocket lint and cotton are also good tinder.

  3. Fire Making Ignition Source

    Ignition Source

    An IGNITION SOURCE. A match, lighter, magnesium rod and striker, or magnifying lens are all good ignition sources. Learn different methods.

  4. Fire Making Kindling


    KINDLING. Kindling is what the fast burning tinder ignites. Gather kindling in at least three different sizes. Begin with dry wood about toothpick to matchstick size. Build these in a tee-pee around the tinder BEFORE lighting. Build a second tee-pee of Q-tip sized kindling around the first tee-pee. Finally build a third tee-pee of pencil sized kindling.

Ignite the tinder. As it starts to smoke, gently blow on the tinder to encourage combustion. Once the burning tinder ignites the kindling and it starts burning and popping, add larger fuel to the fire.

Making a fire is an important preparedness skill. So is putting it out. Have a means of putting out a fire before you ever light it like a bucket of water or a shovel to scoop dirt on top. Be sure fires are cool to the touch before you leave.