Monday, 27 December 2010

Ulster guides training day Basic Fire

On  24th of November 2010 we commenced our series of courses with the Ulster Guides Instructors at Lorne House. The first was a basic fire course run by Gary. It started off with a talk on the uses of fire, for things like cooking and water purification, heat ,moral and position identification. Basic fire lays were also discussed.

The students were then given their first practical task to make a simple but sustainable fire using what knowledge they had of fire lighting. For this task they were only given 1 match to light their fire! This exercise brought home the realisation that fire is very important and cant be made quickly.

They had mixed success with this task as some fires were lit but didnt stay lit for very long. This was a good lesson for them learnt well, as although you may have reliable ignition sources like lighters and matches you should always collect and build every fire as if you only had 1 match. This means that you will prepare properly and spend time collecting the correct amount and quality of resources so nothing is left to chance when you strike that match. 

Gary then explained about the  ‘The Fire Triangle’ and about natural tinder’s which can be used to ignite from just a spark, like birch bark. The students then collected and graded different stage fuels from pencil lead thickness through to the main fuel wood. Gary then showed them how to make feather sticks and the importance of them for fire lighting in wet weather, the students then practiced making and igniting their own feather sticks with just their fire steels (ferocium rod). 

After a lot of hard work and lunch the mood relaxed slightly with a wild tree and plant walk where the properties and uses of different local trees and plants was explained in relation to the making of fire. From the correct harvesting of birch bark to the uses of willow and lime trees in the bow drill friction fire making process. The day ended with a few demos of ancient fire making skills, like flint and steel on char cloth and the bow drill fire making process. The finale of the course was a demo showing the use of fire for signalling purposes, which resulted in a huge plume of smoke being cast from a simple cooking fire. 

A great day was had by all and we would like to thank Gary for instructing and all that took part for the hard work and enthusiasm on the day and we look forward to our next course with them.


  1. This looks and sounds like it was an excellent course, but I doubt anyone can light a feather stick with a fire steel. Perhaps a ferocium rod would do it, I have never used one, only flint, steel and tinderbox/fire bow/reading glass fire lighting.

  2. Thanks for the comments Le Loup, bit of confusion ref. fire steel. We usually refer to the ferocium rod as a fire steel, and the flint and steel is refered to as flint and steel. I will change this to include the name ferocium rod to prevent any further confusion.