Survival

How to Survive Fires and Wildfires like a Firefighter

house fire

Have you thought about what you will do when you can’t call the fire department during a long-term disaster? If not, you are among a high percentage of preppers who have neglected to work this fire preparedness into their survival plan.

As preppers, we know calling 911 will not be an option during a SHTF situation, so we plan to become our own police officers, doctors, and farmers during a doomsday event. Yet, far too few of us plan for an equally important and potentially deadly domino effect like a raging blaze happening without those big red trucks being able to roll to our rescue.

Prepping to deal with a fire during any type of long-term disaster involves far more than battling the flames ourselves. The fire survival plan should include building with fire retardant materials or retrofitting an existing home with them, and manicuring the areas around the main structure to create fire breaks and prevent adding fuel to a growing blaze.

Thinking that rural preppers are going to be more vulnerable to fires than our suburban and urban peers would be a false assumption. Yes, those of us who live in the country are more likely to deal with wildfire roaring unchecked when you can’t call the fire department, but there are equally substantial SHTF fire threats lurking in the suburbs and metropolitan areas as well.

Suburban and Urban Fire Threats

Ponder for a moment, the number of suburban and urban dwellers who routinely use a fireplace or wood stove as their sole source of heat. Few, if any, would be the answer to that question, right?

During a SHTF disaster of any type, you should not expect the power grid to remain functional for very long. Even during a pandemic or economic collapse the sustainability of our overly taxed and antiquated electrical grid will only remain operational as long as a workforce is able or willing to show up and tend to business.

The unprepared masses will be desperate to stay warm, cook food, and purify water. Again, few if any, will have a generator to provide these types of off the grid necessities.

firefighters in action

As the wife of a firefighter and a former county newspaper editor who often went to fire scenes, I have seen first hand how destructive, and deadly a fire from just one tiny candle or an improperly used kerosene heater can rapidly become.

Nothing short of pure ignorance will cause an unnecessary and massive loss of life. If your home, barn, and storage sheds have not been “fire proofed” you neighbor’s stupidity could be the single act that derails your otherwise stellar survival plan.

Wildfire Threats

Rural preppers, and to some extend, suburban preppers, must prepare to deal with wildfires (AKA brush fires) during a long-term disaster. Brush fires are the most unpredictable of all types of blazes. They eat everything in their path, and they morph larger and larger thanks to the readily available fuel sources.

Beautiful log cabins in the woods disappear in mere minutes during wildfires – along with all of the contents inside. Lax governmental policies pertaining to controlled burns and rules against select cutting timber on both state and federal land, only serve to enhance the risk of brushfires both now and when the SHTF.

If you live on one of the many western states where preppers wisely choose to cultivate a survival homesteading retreat in a western state or Appalachia, a national or state park is likely situated only feet to maybe a single mile, from your home. The abundance of natural resources and seclusion that such location provide is tempered by the increased fire risk you have now assumed.

vegetation far away from house
This photo shows how far back we keep the woods and underbrush cut from out back door – even though the walls are made of poured concrete.

EMP Fire Threats

The fire dangers posed by an EMP will be felt equally both rural, suburban, and urban preppers – as well as our unprepared neighbors.

You might be shocked to know there are approximately 7,000 planes flying above our heads on any given day in the United States.

In an Earth-directed X Class solar flare or an EMP of any origin is unleashed, all of the sensitive technology that keeps those massive tin cans airborne, will most likely stop functioning immediately… unless you happen to be riding on Air Force One that has supposedly been sufficiently hardened against an EMP.

If an EMP hits, only fire engines about as old and simply constructed as this one will still be able to run. Unfortunately, most historic beauties like the one below, have been removed from actual fire service – meaning they are no longer equipped to carry water, and have been relegated to purely ceremonial use:

vintage fire truck

When a plethora of airplanes fall from the sky and land smack dab in the middle of suburbia, the jet-fueled fires that stem from them will quickly encompass everything in their wake.

The same EMP event will prevent all modern fire engines from being able to respond to the dire and growing emergency scenes.

putting out a wildfire

Bugging Out During a Fire Disaster

When, not if, fires are started due to any of the above circumstances, and local firefighters are not available to respond, the flames will mount and move with reckless abandon as they garner more and more fuel – consuming entire blocks in mere hours.

In a scenario like this, you run or you die. If you flee on foot, carrying anything more than a backpack would be impossible. Bugging out in a vehicle gives you the opportunity to pack more valuable preps with you, but only if you can get them loaded quickly enough to beat the bottleneck of fellow future refugees, roadways blocked by debris, and the approaching blaze.

Folks with some type of protective masks will stand a far better chance of getting out – smoke inhalation causes more fire fatalities than the actual scorching hot flames.

Fire Prepping

Now that you have a clearer picture of why fire prepping should be a vital part of your survival plan, it’s time to delve more deeply into how you can mitigate the risk of being burned out during a SHTF disaster.

Fire Extinguishers

There is no one type of fire extinguisher that works on all classes of flammables – so you will need to stockpile more than one type of extinguisher on your survival retreat. Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher on flames could cause them to spread instead of diminish.

fire extinguishers

There are five primary types of fire extinguishers, as well as both dry powder and water versions of the firefighting tools.

The primary types of fire extinguishers:

  1. Water Mist
  2. Water
  3. Water Spray
  4. Foam
  5. Wet Chemical
  6. Standard Dry Powder
  7. Specialist Dry Powder
  8. Carbon Dioxide

Dry chemical fire extinguishers are the most common household variety used in kitchens and cars across America. This type of fire extinguisher is designed to be effective on Class A, B, and C fires.

Classes of Flammables

  • Class A Flammables – This class of solid flammables includes typical home and outdoor goods and materials comprised of wood, paper, and plastic.
  • Class B Flammables – In this class of flammables you have liquids, like pure oil, tar, gasoline, grease, and butane, and various solvents that a fire could use as fuel.
  • Class C Flammables – Fires stemming from these types of flammables are caused by gases such as hydrogen, butane and methane.
  • Class D Flammables – Potential fire starters or fuel builders in this class are comprised of combustible metals like magnesium, aluminum or potassium
  • Class E Flammables – Flammables of this type are largely electrical components and electronic devices.

Fuel Storage Fire Prevention Tips

Many rural preppers and off the grid enthusiasts heat (at least partially) with natural gas, propane, or even kerosene. If a fire is blowing toward your prepper retreat, being able to safely and quickly drain storage tanks of the highly flammable fuel (and transport them out of the direct path of the flames) could save your home, barn, or sheds from blowing up or burning to the ground.

While it is tempting to stockpile firewood right outside of your door, resist that urge. Not only will such stockpiles attract snakes during the warm weather months and wood spiders year round, they would also serve as fuel for either a brushfire, or a fire that starts inside your log cabin and burns through the walls.

Firewood is best stored inside of a metal shed instead of a wooden one – or at least a shed with a metal roof to help protect the structure from flying or blowing hot embers. Ideally, locate the woodshed at minimum of 25 feet from your house.

If a wildfire is headed your way, use water hoses or buckets of water to wet down the exterior of firewood sheds built out of wood, and the expose the front layer of the wood to offer at least a little bit of protection from the flames.

In a worst case scenario, wet down all of the firewood in an attempt to prevent it from catching fire. If the wood catches on fire you are going to lose it anyway. Better to water log and and still usable fuel once it finally dries out.

fire-resistant wood shed

Old tin roofing was used to build a fire-resistant covering on the side and top of our wood shed (above). The wood shed should not be located next to any structure to further prevent the firewood inside from being used as fuel by flames that are encroaching upon your house.

Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Bug in Location From Fire

Taking some basic firefighting training is a great idea, but definitely should not be the first step in your hands-on fire preparedness survival plan.

The first step in the process is to spend a day walking around your survival homesteading retreat, bug in home, or bugout location, and thoroughly reviewing the entire property and taking some detailed notes. Snapping some photos is a great idea also.

  1. Pay close attention to the perimeter 20 to 50 feet out from every structure, animal habitat, or outdoor materials storage spaces. Remove all shrubs, trees, and hanging branches that exist within the 20 to 50 foot perimeter around the noted areas.
  2. Repeat step one, removing all potential fire-fueling items that exist within 10 feet of the main living and work area near the home, but not directly adjacent to it.
  3. Never store flammable materials in a wood barn, shed, or workshop. If you must keep turpentine, fuel, and similar items in a workshop or garage, build or make metal footlockers or cabinets to house them.
  4. Clean out your gutters on a weekly to bi-weekly basis to prevent debris from gathering there and drying out in between rains. A blowing spark from a nearby tree could easily spark dry leaves in a gutter and then be blown out of the metal gutter onto something flammable.
  5. Keep a sand-filled metal or ceramic container to extinguish cigarettes, cigars, and fireworks. We‘ve had deadly brush fires in my county that were caused by a cigarette tossed out of a car window by a corn field during a dry season. One such blaze cost one firefighter his life, and injured another.
  6. Invest in a metal roof on your home and all barns and outbuildings. If you cannot work a metal roof into your budget immediately, set up an old-fashioned bucket brigade to douse or hose down existing traditional roofing materials during dry spells.
  7. Never store round hay bales so they can touch. Spontaneous combustion of round bales during warm and dry seasons has been a problem for farmers for centuries. Keep at least 1-3 feet of space between them even if they are stored under a roof or a lean-to. Square bales of hay and straw are still flammable, and should not be stored in the same structure as animals, but because they are far less dense than round bales, they pose far less of a fire threat.
  8. Use a lightning rod to help prevent a fire caused by a storm to take your barn, chicken coop, home, and outbuildings.
  9. Having electricity in a barn is nice, but also enhances the chance of a fire starting around your meat, egg, and working homestead livestock. Consider using solar powered motion lights, landscaping, and lanterns, as well as battery-powered lanterns, and either a portable gas or solar generator to have plug-in power at your barn only when it is needed.
  10. Cut back the underbrush around the primary living area, home, and barn to prevent a wildfire from using it for fuel and bringing flames closer to your home and belongings. Goats are an excellent way to control underbrush. If you do not free range like I do (at least during non-SHTF times) simply tie a goat to a tire or cinder block to create a browsing area near the unwanted underbrush.

Fire Prepping Building Tips

Choosing the right construction materials is among the most important aspects associated with preparing for fires during a long-term disaster – or at anytime, actually.

Log cabins might be beautiful and a great DIY project for skilled preppers, but they are so very far from being a good choice for a bug in location from a fire prevention perspective. You entire home, and likey your floor and your roof if the same beautiful building materials were chosen, are merely fuel for a brushfire to consume.

The best materials to use when building a home or any other structure is concrete. A building built out of either poured concrete walls and floors, or one constructed using cinder block framing will protect the dwelling, contents, and the people or animals inside from soaring flames.

When a home is built or retrofitted using these materials, along with a metal roof, the threat posed by either a brushfire or man-made fire is substantially decreased. But we all must remember that it is not the scorching hot flames that cause the vast majority of fire related deaths, but smoke inhalation.

firefighter in action during a wildfire

Although it is true that dirt does not burn, the ground will scorch during a brush fire. When a wildfire like the one being fought in the photo above happens, wooden fence posts burn, fencing may need to be knocked down to fight the flames, hay bales in the field will not only burn, but fuel the fire, any farm equipment caught in the field could be destroyed, as well as the loss of crops thriving in your survival garden.

How will you feed your family if all of your growing plots are destroyed in a brush fire? In a scenario like this one, the bugin home better be constructed of fire resistant materials so all of the preserve and long-term storage food inside is not lost as well.

Top 10 Fire Prepping Gear and Education

Becoming a volunteer firefighter would not only enhance your fire preparedness and first aid survival skills, but offer the opportunity to meet other like-minded people. Typically, the fire department pays for the basic 40-hour course required to become a firefighter, as well as the bunker gear, helmet, and boots needed to become a certified local hero.

You do not have to belong to a volunteer fire department to take a single or entire fire science course, but you would have to work the class fees into you prepping budget. The possibility of auditing a firefighter course for free or a reduce credit hour price might also be feasible.

firefighter helmet

1. Fire Helmets

Buying old helmets that still have a lot of life left in them but do not meet current government standards is one relatively inexpensive way to garner helmets for your prepper group fire brigade if available from a department or on Ebay. New helmets can range in price from nearly $300 to $400 each.

There are several varieties of firefighter helmets, structure, wildfire, and urban search and rescue being the primary types most often used in departments across the United States.

The American Classic Fiberglass LION Helmets is a popular model because this traditional style helmet is both lightweight and comfortable. TherMax technology is used to make the helmet, which includes a protective Nomex covering around the sides of the neck and back, and cushioned foam to protect the upper head.

The different colors of the firefighter helmets do not denote any difference in quality. Traditionally, fire helmets come in three colors: black for firefighters, red for lieutenants and captains, and white for a chief or assistant chief.

bunker gear

2. Bunker Gear

This is the heavy and protective duty gear a firefighter wears to protect himself or herself from flames, debris, and sharp objects during vehicle accidents. Firefighter bunker gear is also commonly referred to as turnout gear.

Structural bunker gear, like the set shown in the photo above, is heavier and thicker than wildfire gear – like a real firefighter, it is advantageous to possess both type of turnout gear. New bunker gear coats cost approximately $1,000 and the pants cost around $750 per pair.

Wildland turnout gear is comprised of a protective yet lighterweight and durable yellow coat, but fairly light weight green pants – as shown in the smoke-filled brush fire scene in the photo below.

The gear is not as protective as structural bunker gear, but decreases the chances of the firefighter from becoming overcome by the heat and strenuous labor involved in fighting the flames, which typically involves traversing rugged terrain.

3. Bunker Boots

These thick rubber boots will also help protect the feet and lower legs from being scorched by flames. The gripping tread on the soles and its thickness will also help prevent any sharp objects from running up into the boot and injuring the foot.

They are designed to protect firefighters who are walking around horrific vehicle accident scenes where thick shards of both metal and glass are present. This common and protective style of bunker boots usually ranges from $115 to $175 per pair.

4. Nomex Hood

These fire retardant yet thin hoods are worn beneath the helmet to protect the throat and the sides and back of the neck. The hoods come in a broad array of lengths, with some giving added protection to the chest and back area. Nomex hoods generally range in price from $30 to $65 each.

firefighters wearing Nomex hoods
Both firefighters are wearing Nomex hoods that reach down over their chests. They have pulled the hoods off the top of their heads to cool down after fighting a fully involved structure fire for about three hours. Note the flexible head yellow duty flashlight attached to the SCBA gear strap on the firefighter on the right, chest.

5. Gloves

A firefighter likely has multiple types of gloves, with each being designed to aid him or her during specific types of emergency calls. Common firefighter glove types include: structural, rescue, rope, wildland fire, and industrial. Top quality firefighter gloves usually range in price from $50 to $100 a pair.

Indian pack

6. Indian Pack

This backpack style water toting device allows a firefighter to pack water over long distances an over rugged terrain to help thwart a fire, and can be used when digging a fire break – something you should consider doing if living on a rural survival retreat like I do.

An Indian pack has a hose and sprayer attached that can be manipulated even when wearing thick, protective gloves. The Indian pack attaches to the breathing mask worn on structure fires by firefighters.

7. Lights

Like gloves, firefighters also regularly have a variety of flashlights stockpiled. The common and ultra durable flashlights packed by firefighters includes: right angle, headlamp, strobe multi-function, and tilting head.

Fire-grade flashlights can range in price from $60 to $100 each. Most firefighters keep a flexible head flashlight in their bunker gear pocket, and a duty mag light attached to their fire helmet.

8. SCBA

The self-contained breathing apparatus firefighters pack on their back to prevent smoke inhalation is a compressed breathing unit that comes with a timer that alerts the firefighter when the tank is close to empty.

This type of fighting gear will likely be the most difficult to acquire (and garner a pressure fill) if you are not a member or a volunteer of the fire department.

axes and other firefighting tools

9. Pack Tools

Firefighters not only carry an axe, they also pack fire hooks (bar busters, square blades, bicoastal varieties) either on their person or inside of a vehicle to use to garner access to the flames, or to get through a wall to save either a victim or themselves – among many other vital firefighting tasks.

A special wall breaching tool is also often a part of a firefighter’s manual and portable equipment, as well as a pike pole, long-arm maul, and a sledge hammer.

10. Pocket Tools

Smaller manual tools that can fill the pockets of bunker gear or be hooked onto the waist include: door wedges, forcible entry tools, glass breaking tool, folding scoop shovel, and cable cutters.

firefighter with axe over his shoulder

If you can purchase used (or even new) firefighter bunker gear, boots, gloves, and a helmet, they will help protect you from raging flames, but they will not make you bulletproof. At some point, even a brand spanking new of the best bunker gear will go up in flames.

surviving fires wildfires pinterest

Tara Dodrill

About Tara Dodrill

Tara Dodrill is a homesteading and survival journalist and author. She lives on a small ranch with her family in Appalachia. She has been both a host and frequent guest on preparedness radio shows. In addition to the publication of her first book, 'Power Grid Down: How to Prepare, Survive, and Thrive after the Lights go Out', Dodrill also travels to offer prepping tips and hands-on training and survival camps and expos.
View all posts by Tara Dodrill →

10 thoughts on “How to Survive Fires and Wildfires like a Firefighter

  1. Tara,

    I am a former volunteer firefighter from a large suburb of metropolitan area in the upper mid-west. I don’t advocate or recommend anyone playing firefighter without proper training, experience and appropriate turn out gear. Amateurs will find themselves in big trouble real quick in a dangerous situation such as a fully involved structure fire. Grassland fires are also dangerous as winds can shift rapidly depending on the size and speed of the fire. I also don’t recommend donning “used” SCBA equipment since it’s life and amount of service might be largely unknown, don’t bet your life on it working without qualified inspection and / or testing by a professional.
    Most volunteer departments are always looking for new firefighters, it does require a commitment of time, discipline, the love of your community and fire science educational courses to become qualified. You will learn early on that some people sent for training will be scared out of their wits after they have entered a few fully involved structure fires. Some of these people will quit shortly after their first experience or after a bad or series of negative experiences. I recall many not lasting to 5 years, many quit after 1-3 years or less.

    1. Colonel D,

      I am a former volunteer firefighter from a large suburb of metropolitan area in the upper mid-west. I don’t advocate or recommend anyone playing firefighter without proper training, experience and appropriate turn out gear. Amateurs will find themselves in big trouble real quick in a dangerous situation such as a fully involved structure fire.

      I have volunteered with my county EMA for 20 years next month, and we work with local fire and EMS providing resources such as equipment, personnel, and on scene traffic management and rehab facilities. Among our ranks are both current and retired firefighters. This article is prescient, since just this past week we all took our yearly fire extinguisher training, using a variety of extinguishers and a propane gas water bubbler pan.
      We discussed the types of fires and how they are fought; but, the cardinal rules for all of us, including those who are or were firefighters, is hard an simple.
      Before attempting to extinguish a fire, make sure you have a clear exit path, and once you start fighting a fire, if it takes more than 5 seconds, stop, turn & exit via that path.
      Better to stand outside and watch your building burn down, than to be trapped inside and experience a sure and horrible death.

  2. Fires in brush or outdoors a good old hoedad, polaski, shovel or a combi hoe is worth its weight in gold. I have cleared fire line more than once. If it’s a root heavy area a polaski (axe head pick combo) or a hoedad (very wide heavy duty pick) if its not very rooty will clear the ground down to dirt with a quickness. Also really good gloves, and logger boots with the built in cleats. The last forest fire I was around the ground was such wet slippery clay even walking was hard without logger boots.
    Just my 02 cents, I am no pro just been involved it 2 or 3 really bad fire situations in the woods. And a grass fire, screw that though grass fires run like lightning with a little wind.
    Best and brightest head lamp available as well.

  3. Tara,

    Have you thought about what you will do when you can’t call the fire department during a long-term disaster?

    We certainly have. Up until very recently, our fire districts could be 10-15 minutes away for a fire; but, generally faster for medical attention, usually requiring less personnel and equipment.

    Yet, far too few of us plan for an equally important and potentially deadly domino effect like a raging blaze happening without those big red trucks being able to roll to our rescue.

    I’ve actually been planning on this for more than 50 years, ever since I took very seriously my first Boy Scout merit badge at age 10 or 11. That badge was Fireman-ship, with the counselor the father of a troop member who was a local city firefighter. We not only got all of the information about the fire triangle and extinguisher use; but, got to climb around on a ladder truck and slide down the proverbial pole. We started various types of fires, and then tried numerous ways to put them out. Later, when learning fire construction and various ways of making flame to kindle a fire, we always surveyed the area to ensure that our little campfire stayed where we wanted it and didn’t get out of hand.

    Prepping to deal with a fire during any type of long-term disaster involves far more than battling the flames ourselves. The fire survival plan should include building with fire retardant materials or retrofitting an existing home with them, and manicuring the areas around the main structure to create fire breaks and prevent adding fuel to a growing blaze.

    Actually, fighting a fire should be the very last thing on the list.
    Our house is sided with asbestos shingles, as are many older houses in the area. I have had siding sales people try to sell me metal or vinyl, often apoplectic about the ”Asbestos” on my outside walls, and trying to explain to me how dangerous it is. Their explanations generally succumb to logic rather quickly, when I tell them that the siding has been there at least 50 years, and we don’t tear it off, grind it up, and snort it, although often they are snorting as they walk away, wondering why their scare tactics are not working.
    We have a 50-100 foot area around the house that is well kept and well manicured, and have outside hydrants that can bring quite a bit of water to bear on an issue if needed.

    Thinking that rural preppers are going to be more vulnerable to fires than our suburban and urban peers would be a false assumption. Yes, those of us who live in the country are more likely to deal with wildfire roaring unchecked when you can’t call the fire department, but there are equally substantial SHTF fire threats lurking in the suburbs and metropolitan areas as well.

    There is little chance of wildfire here, since the nearest wooded areas are hundreds of yards from the buildings with lots of open space between.

    Suburban and Urban Fire Threats
    Just the fact that the spacing between buildings can be measured in yards or feet means fire traveling from one building to another is nearly certain.
    Our nearest buildings are separated by 75 or more feet, with 100 ore more nominal, and hundreds of yards to our nearest neighbors.

    During a SHTF disaster of any type, you should not expect the power grid to remain functional for very long. Even during a pandemic or economic collapse the sustainability of our overly taxed and antiquated electrical grid will only remain operational as long as a workforce is able or willing to show up and tend to business.

    This may be true; but, yet one more reason to be able to provide your own power as we can do.

    As the wife of a firefighter and a former county newspaper editor who often went to fire scenes, I have seen first hand how destructive, and deadly a fire from just one tiny candle or an improperly used kerosene heater can rapidly become.

    As a member of our county EMA who provide traffic management and rehab support to local firefighters, I have seen how quickly a little fire can get out of control, with a working fire often fully involved as the first vehicles arrive on scene.

    Wildfire Threats
    Thankfully we do not have this threat at our location.

    EMP Fire Threats

    You might be shocked to know there are approximately 7,000 planes flying above our heads on any given day in the United States.

    Not only am I not surprised, you all might be surprised that you can listen to their radio chatter and read their transponder telemetry (altitude, speed, position & bearing) for less than $50.00 right from the comfort of your home.

    In an Earth-directed X Class solar flare or an EMP of any origin is unleashed, all of the sensitive technology that keeps those massive tin cans airborne, will most likely stop functioning immediately… unless you happen to be riding on Air Force One that has supposedly been sufficiently hardened against an EMP.

    Not necessarily. You called it a massive tin can (that in some circumstance means massive faraday enclosure). The aircrafts absorb lightning strikes with little effect and the static and other EM generated energy in flight is at least in part mitigated with special transient circuits. We’ll not know if or until it happens; but, I suspect we will be pleasantly surprised.

    When a plethora of airplanes fall from the sky and land smack dab in the middle of suburbia, the jet-fueled fires that stem from them will quickly encompass everything in their wake.

    ”Plethora” is I think a bit of hyperbole, and if you live near an airport, could be very true; but, out here in the hinterlands, the probability becomes very low.
    Also, even an aircraft with bingo fuel, will have enough kinetic energy when crashing to do serious damage, just from the impact alone. A bullet or cannonball doesn’t have to be burning to be dangerous.

    Bugging Out During a Fire Disaster
    With the exception that our house is on fire, this is not part of our plans.

    In a scenario like this, you run or you die. If you flee on foot, carrying anything more than a backpack would be impossible. Bugging out in a vehicle gives you the opportunity to pack more valuable preps with you, but only if you can get them loaded quickly enough to beat the bottleneck of fellow future refugees, roadways blocked by debris, and the approaching blaze.
    I pity those who choose to live in areas with this problem; but, it does not in general affect us.

    Folks with some type of protective masks will stand a far better chance of getting out – smoke inhalation causes more fire fatalities than the actual scorching hot flames.
    This is one of the reason we keep personal oxygen on hand, for both the FAK and for fir exit. Keep low out of the heat, and used the O2.

    Boost Oxygen Natural Portable 10 Liter Pure Canned Oxygen Canister, Flavorless
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/Boost-Oxygen-Natural-Portable-10-Liter-Pure-Canned-Oxygen-Canister-Flavorless/355374830?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=424&adid=22222222227150112093&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=262035374790&wl4=pla-431514860799&wl5=9015024&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=111838595&wl11=online&wl12=355374830&wl13=&veh=sem

    Boost Oxygen: 95% Pure Aviator’s Oxygen- 5 Liters
    https://www.amazon.com/95-Pure-Oxygen-Boost-Supplemental/dp/B077NQBCSP/ref=asc_df_B077NQBCSP/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=309765225568&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6007283080515806674&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9015024&hvtargid=pla-650949154941&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=70155173228&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=309765225568&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6007283080515806674&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9015024&hvtargid=pla-650949154941
    You can no doubt find it elsewhere. I purchased a 6-pack from Amazon.

    Fire Prepping
    This is pretty standard stuff. Keep your brush piles away from buildings, keep the grass and weeds trimmed back, make sure you have working Smoke & C.O. detectors, and a few fire extinguishers ready at hand.
    We keep a large box of baking soda near the kitchen range that can be safely dumped on nearly any type of fire.
    And for a grease fire in a skillet, just drop the lid on to smother the fire.

    Fire Extinguishers

    There is no one type of fire extinguisher that works on all classes of flammables – so you will need to stockpile more than one type of extinguisher on your survival retreat. Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher on flames could cause them to spread instead of diminish.

    In general, a class ABC dry chemical rig will work for nearly anything.
    Water based devices have been phased out almost entirely.
    If you can afford to purchase and keep a CO2 rig charged, that would be handy to have on hand.

    Fuel Storage Fire Prevention Tips

    Many rural preppers and off the grid enthusiasts heat (at least partially) with natural gas, propane, or even kerosene. If a fire is blowing toward your prepper retreat, being able to safely and quickly drain storage tanks of the highly flammable fuel (and transport them out of the direct path of the flames) could save your home, barn, or sheds from blowing up or burning to the ground.

    Our storage is well out of the way; but, draining fuel, unless into many smaller containers, while facing an approaching fire would seem to me to be dangerous.
    Additionally, draining large propane tanks is nearly impossible, so best to just keep them far from buildings and keep the areas around them clear of combustibles.

    Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Bug in Location From Fire

    Taking some basic firefighting training is a great idea, but definitely should not be the first step in your hands-on fire preparedness survival plan.

    For most people this should consist only of proper use of a fire extinguisher or a garden hose to keep the roof and sides of a building wet and potentially more fire resistant. Sprinklers on the roof could help here and would be inexpensive.
    I would personally recommend CERT training. Community Emergency Response Teams are trained in a lot of little things that add up to a more prepared person.

    For the extinguishers you need to remember PASS
    Pull the locking pin.
    Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
    Squeeze the trigger
    Sweep back and forth.

    The first step in the process is to spend a day walking around your survival homesteading retreat, bug in home, or bugout location, and thoroughly reviewing the entire property and taking some detailed notes. Snapping some photos is a great idea also.

    We did this when we moved here 35 years ago, and it is an ongoing task, looking for things broken, out of place, or that have subsequently become a hazard.

    Never store flammable materials in a wood barn, shed, or workshop. If you must keep turpentine, fuel, and similar items in a workshop or garage, build or make metal footlockers or cabinets to house them.

    This is one place where we violate the rules, keeping a few gasoline cans in the building where we store our mower, tiller, etc. This might need to be addressed, although in 35+ years it has never been a problem.

    Keep a sand-filled metal or ceramic container to extinguish cigarettes, cigars, and fireworks. We‘ve had deadly brush fires in my county that were caused by a cigarette tossed out of a car window by a corn field during a dry season. One such blaze cost one firefighter his life, and injured another.

    There are no smokers here and we’ve always had a few buckets of water when doing fireworks, mostly sparklers, that are dumped in the water when finished but still hot.

    Invest in a metal roof on your home and all barns and outbuildings. If you cannot work a metal roof into your budget immediately, set up an old-fashioned bucket brigade to douse or hose down existing traditional roofing materials during dry spells.

    All of the outbuildings have metal roofs and the house once did, until replacing it was out of our price range so we went with shingles. We have considered a sprinkler system for the roof; but, winters make that a hard design.

    Use a lightning rod to help prevent a fire caused by a storm to take your barn, chicken coop, home, and outbuildings.

    Those were on the house and went with the metal roof; however, the house is surrounded by many tall trees, and a grounded 50 foot radio tower.
    We also have the high voltage pylons (towers) not far from here that seem to keep lightning around the property to a minimum. Tall metal towers work sort of like lightning rods for the whole area.

    Having electricity in a barn is nice, but also enhances the chance of a fire starting around your meat, egg, and working homestead livestock. Consider using solar powered motion lights, landscaping, and lanterns, as well as battery-powered lanterns, and either a portable gas or solar generator to have plug-in power at your barn only when it is needed.

    This seems like a gratuitous statement to me, since all of our outbuildings are wired for power, and proper wiring in an outbuilding is no more dangerous than in your house.
    Fire Prepping Building Tips
    In our case, the asbestos siding, and properly maintained equipment should be all we need here and along with the metal roofs on the outbuildings, makes us feel rather safe.

    The best materials to use when building a home or any other structure is concrete. A building built out of either poured concrete walls and floors, or one constructed using cinder block framing will protect the dwelling, contents, and the people or animals inside from soaring flames.

    That would only be our machinery shed that is used for a three car garage and built from stacked cinder blocks.

    Top 10 Fire Prepping Gear and Education

    For home use, the typical warning devices, and fire extinguishers should work.
    For tools I’ll take my shovel and my Off Grid Tools Survival Axe (https://www.google.com/shopping/product/13644824003900178609?q=Off+Grid+Tools+Axe+features&biw=1280&bih=600&prds=paur:ClkAsKraX77kKgzyIcc-qqN4FLw0B_ZOvlMIMvbW48Ix08teE6IpJBjCylZD-8Q2Kj5FBJK9tIfUMuLb1YQLTC7Grj0PrwrgJ_QTHlepZGxpjmFH6YXnve7xOhIZAFPVH729hdn721J0-vGfqJVXM1wCdQReuA&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjIxL7lt9viAhUESK0KHX5iBX8Q8wII3QI)

    Becoming a volunteer firefighter would not only enhance your fire preparedness and first aid survival skills, but offer the opportunity to meet other like-minded people. Typically, the fire department pays for the basic 40-hour course required to become a firefighter, as well as the bunker gear, helmet, and boots needed to become a certified local hero.

    I don’t know any that would call themselves a hero; but, there are other lesser ways to get the training, at least around these parts. Our county EMA provides some gear and training that is helpful and allows you to better underrated the entire EMS system called NIMS.
    Keep in mind that firefighting and law enforcement personnel operate within a system that has checks and balances, with people to back you up. The most highly trained person would be foolish to attempt many things on their own.
    Even our low level CERT training requires the “buddy” system with a safety officer keeping track of the scene,

    1. Fire Helmets
    Only if you are going in, that IMHO is foolish without a backup team and training. This applies to all of the other gear.

    In conclusion, this is a great article describing the gear, training, and some of the techniques used by trained firefighters on a team; but, should be fair warning of the dangers for untrained or marginally trained individuals to attempt such feats.
    In a post SHTF situation, your best bet is to be extra careful to mitigate situations before they rise to a fire that needs to be fought.

  4. Tara,

    Have you thought about what you will do when you can’t call the fire department during a long-term disaster?

    We certainly have. Up until very recently, our fire districts could be 10-15 minutes away for a fire; but, generally faster for medical attention, usually requiring less personnel and equipment.

    Yet, far too few of us plan for an equally important and potentially deadly domino effect like a raging blaze happening without those big red trucks being able to roll to our rescue.

    I’ve actually been planning on this for more than 50 years, ever since I took very seriously my first Boy Scout merit badge at age 10 or 11. That badge was Fireman-ship, with the counselor the father of a troop member who was a local city firefighter. We not only got all of the information about the fire triangle and extinguisher use; but, got to climb around on a ladder truck and slide down the proverbial pole. We started various types of fires, and then tried numerous ways to put them out. Later, when learning fire construction and various ways of making flame to kindle a fire, we always surveyed the area to ensure that our little campfire stayed where we wanted it and didn’t get out of hand.

    Prepping to deal with a fire during any type of long-term disaster involves far more than battling the flames ourselves. The fire survival plan should include building with fire retardant materials or retrofitting an existing home with them, and manicuring the areas around the main structure to create fire breaks and prevent adding fuel to a growing blaze.

    Actually, fighting a fire should be the very last thing on the list.
    Our house is sided with asbestos shingles, as are many older houses in the area. I have had siding sales people try to sell me metal or vinyl, often apoplectic about the ”Asbestos” on my outside walls, and trying to explain to me how dangerous it is. Their explanations generally succumb to logic rather quickly, when I tell them that the siding has been there at least 50 years, and we don’t tear it off, grind it up, and snort it, although often they are snorting as they walk away, wondering why their scare tactics are not working.
    We have a 50-100 foot area around the house that is well kept and well manicured, and have outside hydrants that can bring quite a bit of water to bear on an issue if needed.

    Thinking that rural preppers are going to be more vulnerable to fires than our suburban and urban peers would be a false assumption. Yes, those of us who live in the country are more likely to deal with wildfire roaring unchecked when you can’t call the fire department, but there are equally substantial SHTF fire threats lurking in the suburbs and metropolitan areas as well.

    There is little chance of wildfire here, since the nearest wooded areas are hundreds of yards from the buildings with lots of open space between.

    Suburban and Urban Fire Threats
    Just the fact that the spacing between buildings can be measured in yards or feet means fire traveling from one building to another is nearly certain.
    Our nearest buildings are separated by 75 or more feet, with 100 ore more nominal, and hundreds of yards to our nearest neighbors.

    During a SHTF disaster of any type, you should not expect the power grid to remain functional for very long. Even during a pandemic or economic collapse the sustainability of our overly taxed and antiquated electrical grid will only remain operational as long as a workforce is able or willing to show up and tend to business.

    This may be true; but, yet one more reason to be able to provide your own power as we can do.

    As the wife of a firefighter and a former county newspaper editor who often went to fire scenes, I have seen first hand how destructive, and deadly a fire from just one tiny candle or an improperly used kerosene heater can rapidly become.

    As a member of our county EMA who provide traffic management and rehab support to local firefighters, I have seen how quickly a little fire can get out of control, with a working fire often fully involved as the first vehicles arrive on scene.

    Wildfire Threats
    Thankfully we do not have this threat at our location.

    EMP Fire Threats

    You might be shocked to know there are approximately 7,000 planes flying above our heads on any given day in the United States.

    Not only am I not shocked, you all might be surprised that you can listen to their radio chatter and read their transponder telemetry (altitude, speed, position & bearing) for less than $50.00 right from the comfort of your home.

    In an Earth-directed X Class solar flare or an EMP of any origin is unleashed, all of the sensitive technology that keeps those massive tin cans airborne, will most likely stop functioning immediately… unless you happen to be riding on Air Force One that has supposedly been sufficiently hardened against an EMP.

    Not necessarily. You called it a massive tin can (that in some circumstance means massive faraday enclosure). The aircrafts absorb lightning strikes with little effect and the static and other EM generated energy in flight is at least in part mitigated with special transient circuits. We’ll not know if or until it happens; but, I suspect we will be pleasantly surprised.

    When a plethora of airplanes fall from the sky and land smack dab in the middle of suburbia, the jet-fueled fires that stem from them will quickly encompass everything in their wake.

    ”Plethora” is I think a bit of hyperbole; however, if you live near an airport, could be very true; but, out here in the hinterlands, the probability becomes very low.
    Also, even an aircraft with bingo fuel, will have enough kinetic energy when crashing to do serious damage, just from the impact alone. A bullet or cannonball doesn’t have to be burning to be dangerous.

    Bugging Out During a Fire Disaster
    With the exception that our house is on fire, this is not part of our plans.

    In a scenario like this, you run or you die. If you flee on foot, carrying anything more than a backpack would be impossible. Bugging out in a vehicle gives you the opportunity to pack more valuable preps with you, but only if you can get them loaded quickly enough to beat the bottleneck of fellow future refugees, roadways blocked by debris, and the approaching blaze.
    I pity those who choose to live in areas with this problem; but, it does not in general affect us and hopefully articles like this will open their eyes to take another look at their individual situations.

    Folks with some type of protective masks will stand a far better chance of getting out – smoke inhalation causes more fire fatalities than the actual scorching hot flames.
    This is one of the reasons we keep personal oxygen on hand, for both the FAK and for fire escape. Keep low, out of the heat, and used the O2. Look for Boost Oxygen Natural Portable Pure Canned Oxygen. I purchased a 6-pack from Amazon. My thanks to absent pack member Sirius for pointing me at this stuff.

    Fire Prepping
    This is pretty standard stuff. Keep your brush piles away from buildings, keep the grass and weeds trimmed back, make sure you have working Smoke & C.O. detectors, and a few fire extinguishers ready at hand.
    We keep a large box of baking soda near the kitchen range that can be safely dumped on nearly any type of fire.
    And for a grease fire in a skillet, just drop the lid on to smother the fire.

    Fire Extinguishers

    There is no one type of fire extinguisher that works on all classes of flammables – so you will need to stockpile more than one type of extinguisher on your survival retreat. Using the wrong type of fire extinguisher on flames could cause them to spread instead of diminish.

    In general, a class ABC dry chemical rig will work for nearly anything you find in the home, since you probably are not using exotic metals like sodium or potassium.
    Water based devices have been phased out almost entirely.
    If you can afford to purchase and keep a CO2 rig charged, that would be handy to have on hand.

    Fuel Storage Fire Prevention Tips

    Many rural preppers and off the grid enthusiasts heat (at least partially) with natural gas, propane, or even kerosene. If a fire is blowing toward your prepper retreat, being able to safely and quickly drain storage tanks of the highly flammable fuel (and transport them out of the direct path of the flames) could save your home, barn, or sheds from blowing up or burning to the ground.

    Our storage is well out of the way; but, draining fuel, unless into many smaller containers, while facing an approaching fire would seem to me to be dangerous.
    Additionally, draining large propane tanks is nearly impossible, so best to just keep them far from buildings and keep the areas around them clear of combustibles.
    Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Bug in Location From Fire

    Taking some basic firefighting training is a great idea, but definitely should not be the first step in your hands-on fire preparedness survival plan.

    For most people this should consist only of proper use of a fire extinguisher or a garden hose to keep the roof and sides of a building wet and potentially more fire resistant. Sprinklers on the roof could help here and would be inexpensive.
    I would personally recommend CERT training. Community Emergency Response Teams are trained in a lot of little things that add up to a more prepared person.

    For the extinguishers you need to remember PASS
    Pull the locking pin.
    Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
    Squeeze the trigger
    Sweep back and forth.

    The first step in the process is to spend a day walking around your survival homesteading retreat, bug in home, or bugout location, and thoroughly reviewing the entire property and taking some detailed notes. Snapping some photos is a great idea also.

    We did this when we moved here 35 years ago, and it is an ongoing task, looking for things broken, out of place, or that have subsequently become a hazard.

    Never store flammable materials in a wood barn, shed, or workshop. If you must keep turpentine, fuel, and similar items in a workshop or garage, build or make metal footlockers or cabinets to house them.

    This is one place where we violate the rules, keeping a few gasoline cans in the building where we store our mower, tiller, etc. This might need to be addressed, although in 35+ years it has never been a problem.

    Keep a sand-filled metal or ceramic container to extinguish cigarettes, cigars, and fireworks. We‘ve had deadly brush fires in my county that were caused by a cigarette tossed out of a car window by a corn field during a dry season. One such blaze cost one firefighter his life, and injured another.

    There are no smokers here and we’ve always had a few buckets of water when doing fireworks, mostly sparklers, that are dumped in the water when finished but still hot.

    Invest in a metal roof on your home and all barns and outbuildings. If you cannot work a metal roof into your budget immediately, set up an old-fashioned bucket brigade to douse or hose down existing traditional roofing materials during dry spells.

    All of the outbuildings have metal roofs and the house once did, until replacing it was out of our price range so we went with shingles. We have considered a sprinkler system for the roof; but, winters make that a hard design.

    Use a lightning rod to help prevent a fire caused by a storm to take your barn, chicken coop, home, and outbuildings.

    Those were on the house and went with the metal roof; however, the house is surrounded by many tall trees, and a grounded 50 foot radio tower.
    We also have the high voltage pylons (towers) not far from here that seem to keep lightning around the property to a minimum. Tall metal towers work sort of like lightning rods for the whole area.

    Having electricity in a barn is nice, but also enhances the chance of a fire starting around your meat, egg, and working homestead livestock. Consider using solar powered motion lights, landscaping, and lanterns, as well as battery-powered lanterns, and either a portable gas or solar generator to have plug-in power at your barn only when it is needed.

    All of our outbuildings are wired for power, and proper wiring in an outbuilding is no more dangerous than in your house.
    Fire Prepping Building Tips
    In our case, the asbestos siding, and properly maintained equipment should be all we need here and along with the metal roofs on the outbuildings, makes us feel rather safe.

    Top 10 Fire Prepping Gear and Education

    For home use, the typical warning devices, and fire extinguishers should work.
    For tools I’ll take a shovel and my Off Grid Tools Survival Axe that fills nearly all of the needs of my CERT kit with a single tool.

    Becoming a volunteer firefighter would not only enhance your fire preparedness and first aid survival skills, but offer the opportunity to meet other like-minded people. Typically, the fire department pays for the basic 40-hour course required to become a firefighter, as well as the bunker gear, helmet, and boots needed to become a certified local hero.

    I don’t know any that would call themselves a hero; but, there are other lesser ways to get the training, at least around these parts. Our county EMA provides some gear and training that is helpful and allows you to better understand the entire EMS system and it’s related parts.
    Keep in mind that firefighting and law enforcement personnel operate within a system that has checks and balances, with people to back you up. Even the most highly trained person would be foolish to attempt many things on their own.
    Even our low level CERT training requires the “buddy” system with a safety officer keeping track of the scene,

    In conclusion, this is a great article describing the gear, training, and some of the techniques used by trained firefighters on a team; but, should be fair warning of the dangers for untrained or marginally trained individuals to attempt such feats.

    In a post SHTF situation, your best bet is to be extra careful to mitigate situations before they rise to a fire that needs to be fought; but, if push comes to shove, knowing this information and having the equipment and practiced skills may be required.

  5. I have helped to fight wildfires while in the service. Not fun, hot, smokey, nasty. Not to mention dangerous. One guy in my unit was hospitalized for several days with smoke inhalation.

    As a police officer, I’ve been to the scene of a number of structure fires. One I really remember was on a midnight shift, in the middle of January in Michigan. A restaurant caught fire (turned out to be an arson). It was on the corner of an intersection of two major roads, one of which was a multi-lane boulevard with a wide median. I was across the boulevard, about as far away as my traffic and crowd control assignment allowed (at least 100-yards) and the side of me facing the fire was roasting, while the other side froze. The ambient temperature was about 10F maybe. I had to keep turning around like I was on a rotisserie to keep from burning up, and freezing, all at the same time.

    The lesson I learned from my experiences with fires is I’d rather be a police officer than a firefighter and that fires are very dangerous animals.

    1. Zulu 3-6,

      I was across the boulevard, about as far away as my traffic and crowd control assignment allowed (at least 100-yards) and the side of me facing the fire was roasting, while the other side froze. The ambient temperature was about 10F maybe. I had to keep turning around like I was on a rotisserie to keep from burning up, and freezing, all at the same time.

      Our county EMA provides rehab for working fires and while we are far out of the way, I (we) have had similar experiences. Rehab in this case is having equipment where the firefighters can get into a neutral temperature environment, rehydrate, and use the toilet. On hot days we have cold drinks & AC; but, I personally find the cold days the worst. In your 10° event, the firefighters are in danger from the fire, while the water they use freezes almost instantly, often creating a slippery surface on which to work. Where else can you get 3rd degree burns and frostbite at the same time?

      The lesson I learned from my experiences with fires is I’d rather be a police officer than a firefighter and that fires are very dangerous animals.

      I’m glad someone wants to fight the fires; but, I hear ya’.

      1. TOP,

        I think firefighters are nuts for doing what they do, but then, they think cops are nuts for doing what we do.

        I got along well with my town’s firefighters. Good bunch of guys then. Often took my break at the fire station as we were welcome for free coffee.

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