Fire Safety

Fire prevention is everyone’s job and the guidelines of fire safety sometimes have to be driven into the heads of people who think they know better. If the fire risk in the area where the festival takes place is high there will be no camp fires and limited open flames. And if so, don’t feel bad for pouring buckets of water on someone’s fire. We would all pay for the damage done by a fire that was created by our gathering.
Every vehicle coming to the festival should have a fire extinguisher, a 5 gallon bucket of water, and a shovel. Large quantities of buckets can be acquired at delis of most larger markets. Get as many as you possible can. The majority should be placed in a place where everyone knows where they are, like the Med Tent, and they are to be used ONLY FOR FIRE FIGHTING and should be marked as such to avoid confusion. Also with your buckets you should have shovels, hatchets, flashlights, and escape maps routes in case a fire gets out of hand and everyone has to escape.
If you are thinking about using fire, look around to see if the grass and trees have turned into possible combustibles. If you have even the slightest doubt don’t have a fire. Build campfires away from overhanging branches, steep slopes, rotten stumps, logs, dry grass, and leaves. Pile any extra wood away from the fires. Keep plenty of water handy and have a shovel for throwing dirt on the fire if it gets out of control. Scrape away litter, duff, and any burnable material within a 10-foot-diameter circle. This will keep a small campfire from spreading. Start with dry twigs and small sticks. Add larger sticks as the fire builds up. Put the largest pieces of wood on last, pointing them toward the center of the fire, and gradually push them into the flames. Keep the campfire small. A good bed of coals or a small fire surrounded by rocks gives plenty of heat.Be sure your match is out. Hold it until it is cold. Break it so that you can feel the charred portion before discarding it. Make sure it is out cold.

Never leave a campfire unattended. Even a small breeze could quickly cause the fire to spread. When finished with your fire, drown the fire with water. Make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Move rocks—there may be burning embers underneath. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. Be sure all burned material has been extinguished and cooled. If you do not have water, use dirt. Mix enough soil or sand with the embers. Continue adding and stirring until all material is cooled. Feel all materials with your bare hand. Make sure that no roots are burning. Do not bury your coals—they can smolder and break out. Treat charcoal briquettes like any other fire (see above).

When smoking is permitted outdoors, safe practices require at least a 3-foot clearing around the smoker. Grind out your cigarette, cigar, or pipe tobacco in the dirt. Never grind it on a stump or log. Use your ashtray while in your car. Smoking isn’t that necessary that you can’t go somewhere safe to do it.

Spark Arresters: All types of equipment and vehicles are required to have spark arresters. Chain saws, portable generators, cross-country vehicles, and trail bikes–to name a few–require spark arresters if used in or near grass, brush, or a wooded area. To make sure that the spark arrester is functioning properly, check with the dealer or contact your local Forest Service or State forestry office.

Vehicles can and will ignite grass. Always park on gravel roads or parking lots. If you must park on the grass because you have heavy equipment like soundsystem or tent, it’s a good idea to let the engine and exhaust cool down a little on some gravel before moving to the grass. While your vehicle is cooling go to the spot where you will be parking and dig a fireline about 5′ larger diameter than the vehicle on all sides. A fireline should be 2 feet wide and 1 foot deep. Deep enough to get past most of the grass roots. Buckets of sand or water should be placed near every vehicle, generator, and larger tent. Bigger vehicles should have more buckets.

See also:
National Interagency Fire Center
Geomac Wildfire Info.

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