Civil War reenactment Campfire Safety

 The campfire is one of the nicest parts of camping.  We sit around the campfire at night, and tell bad stories of reenactments long ago.  Other units will wander over to your campfire and talk about nothing for hours.  In the morning when everyone is just getting up we all gather around the fire, throw a new long on, and watch it burn with a mesmerizing DUH! Look on our faces.

 The campfire is also a tool for cooking, heating water for dishes and musket cleaning, and a few other things as well.  Like any tool, a fire must be learned how to use properly and safely. 


First, find the proper place to have your fire.  Proper placement of the fire can eleviate some worries.  Have one of the gentleman clear a 10 foot area around the fire (I have no doubt that the ladies are capable of doing this, but why make more work for yourself, besides, it makes the men feel manly and rugged.). Pick up paper, twigs and other assorted burnable material in the area (you donít have to dig up trees or anything, but do what you can). This is also the time to move loose rocks, fill in divots and check the area for anything that could cause you to trip and fall into the fire. We often camp at historical reenactments where there are no fire rings and we must dig a fire pit. If you have to do this, try to remove the sod and wet it down and keep it moist so it can be used to refill the pit when you leave.

 Do everyone, including yourself, a favor and stack your firewood in a safe area near enough to the fire that you can easily get at it but outside that 10 foot area. And place a large pot or a bucket of water or a fire extinguisher in a sack in a place you can get at it easily, too. An area to cut or split wood if it is needed is a nice little endeavor as well.  The area should be cleaned and with the proper tools prepared so you donít have to hunt for them all the time with small axe, hatchet, hammer, wedges, saw and files.  The axe and other tool should be visible at all times.  This also applies to cooking utensils as well.  No one likes to step on a prong that has been ill placed beside the fire (at least I hope they donít enjoy it!).

 Now we can start the fire. this is where a lot of the accidents happen. I canít say this enough DO NOT USE GASOLINE TO START FIRES! Sooner or later, something bad is going to happen if you do; hopefully it will just be a chair or something burned, because I donít want it to be you or, even worse, a child burned when it happens.

Some simple, easy and, most importantly, safe ways to start a fire are:

 While you are cooking, there are a few simple rules that should be practiced by everyone:

 Lastly, if a spectator asks ďIs that a real fire?Ē please do not tell them to stick their hand in and find out.  The paramedics will thank you for your reservations.  Fires arenít dangerous in and of themselves; however, they are a tool that is hazardous if misused!