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Playing with fire... Reminder for those who may need it.... Re: [at-l] The Burn and FSN/Cotton/Rules

--- SaraSW@aol.com wrote: 
> In a message dated 6/12/01 10:11:01 AM, thornel@attglobal.net writes:
> > I hope my painful experience helps others avoid similar trauma. 
> OB--I am quite sure your experience saved me from similar trauma this
> past weekend when I used (not just lit to see how fast it boiled water)
my tin can stove for the first time. 

### Sloetoe chides:
We really are "playing with fire"... we seemed to have been lulled by the
fact that we generally don't clear a fire ring around our stoves, or are
bothered by uncontrolled smoke hitting our eyes or lungs, or need worry
about a popping, flying ember hitting our sleeping bag or tent canopy, but
we need to wake up to the fact that regardless of the control we can
exercise over the burning, regardless of the sanitized nature of its use
as a cooking tool, we are NOT at home in our own little kitchen, and the
little dohickey in front of us is FIRE.

Gasoline vaporizes with great speed, and mixed with oxygen, forms an
explosive gas with a power close to TNT. A cooler "flash" will likely
throw liquid gasoline around. If extinguished, liquid gasoline will
reignite quickly and easily.

Alcohol mostly burns with a clear flame, making it a real bitch in
situations when you need to know where/how big the flame is. For our
cooking needs, this mostly does not occur. BUT FOR OUR NEEDS, spills are

As I understand it, Orangebug's accident occured when he was *not* wearing
any clothing on his arm. And thank God for that. As I wrote back ...
whenever, we all reach towards our stoves -- lighting, checking, stirring
-- with nary a thought about catching ourselves on fire. THINK!

When I was in high school, I learned to assess whether I needed to go out
into the woods (backpacking) by the length of the hair on my fingers: if
it was too long, then it hadn't been burned off in the stove lighting
ritual for too long, and I needed to hit the trail. I STILL judge my need
to pack that way....

When I was a summer camper type, we had a whole "class" in fire-building
skills. (That whole idea has probably gone the way of scholastic dodge
ball and trampolines: outlawed by a society that seeks to placate the
fearful by banishing the leading edge of risk behaviors.) That class
*mostly* taught fire-*handling* skills -- how fire behaves, and how to
stay out of its way. How many of us are comfortable playing with fire? Do
you know what happens when spilled fuel burns? Is it different when it
spills on a leanto floor or painted picnic table or rock or duff or sand?
Do you KNOW the differences? Do you know how quickly you can refuel a
gasoline stove? (Oops. Alright, MSR owners may leave the room...) Or an
alcohol stove? (Step up, OB, and tell the class....)

What if you spilled some fuel on your hand: how do you light your stove?
Time matters, you know: your fuel is evaporating.

What if your clothing caught fire? Arms that close? MUCH more likely than
your tent! WHAT will you do? Have you THOUGHT about it? Are your things
arranged around you such that you could jump up without spilling stove
fuel and boiling water and tripling the problem?

If you don't think about these things EACH AND EVERY time you sit down to
cook a meal, you are a disaster waiting to happen. We had a long
bitch&moan session here and on bpl about the dangers of cooking in/under
tents -- that whole business missed the point that the danger is not
overhead, it's RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU. 

Learn what/how fire behaves even BEFORE you go on your next trip. Burn
some wood, like when you were a kid. Walk around and spill some fuel on
wood, painted wood, rock, concrete, duff (not the beer), etc, and LEARN
how it behaves. This past weekend, I lit (or *attempted* to light) a strip
on PU-coated nylon duck and sil-nylon: do this yourself.

Fire-handling -- even with regards to a backcountry cook kit -- is a
backcountry SKILL. We don't find chapters on knots or fire-building or
axemanship in the backcountry how-to books anymore -- we find internet
references, instead. This is our failing. You MUST learn, practice, and
TEACH these things or you will be that accident waiting to happen.

Lastly, I apologize that this is written as off-the-cuff as it is; I wish
I'd time to really put something together, but it's been weeks, and my
time's not growing any.....

Be cool,

Spatior, Nitor, Nitor, In Nitor!

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