“It will take a few minutes.” Almost all the time, taking a few minutes to get a fire going is an acceptable part of the outdoor adventure.

There are some semi-emergency or worse situations where we need the fire going right now and a few minutes is just too long. Getting warm is an immediate need, for example, if someone is soaking wet from a fall into the water or is hypothermic from a variety of possible situations. Often no other clothing or sleeping bags are readily available so a quickly lit fire is how you do it.

Mastering the “one match fire” is a valuable skill to be learned by all, but building a really fast, really big, fire is just as important for those situations where time is of the essence.

The fast fire has to be built with what is available and often the supplies nearby are bigger than ideal and often damp or even wet. This is not good, but they are all you have to start with. If others are with you, they can wander around and pick up kindling and small stuff to assist you.

Preparation is essential and it’s really quite simple.The first requirement is that you must accept the fact that it can happen to you. You won’t see a need to prepare if your conclusion is that it cannot happen to you.

On the topic of the quick, big fire, preparation includes always having with you some materials that get a fire going very fast. Out on the land these items should be carried at all times and be readily available. They should be in your boat, truck, quad, pack and pocket. Everyone in your party should have some on them.

Fuels such as gas, kerosene, white-gas etc. will rarely fail if used with care and common sense. They are usually in bulky containers so aren’t with you unless you are in the boat or back at camp.

Various commercial fire-lighters are available and some are excellent while others are not much faster than matches or a BIC lighter. Duct tape, plastic cement, coffee whitener or Cheezies all work acceptably well, with duct tape the best of those. Commercial “fire paste” in a tube similar to toothpaste really works well on tinder, kindling and other wood even if it is damp or even slightly wet.

I have always had consistent success with chain-saw chips dampened with kerosene carried in a coffee can or plastic peanut butter jar. Using a little more than the minimum will get it all going more easily. A jar of this material takes up no space in your boat, truck or quad box.

Of course you have to have a dependable source of ignition (the original flame) and this need is easily met with a few BIC lighters in your pocket, pack and survival kit. Matches are pretty dependable, but for a variety of common-sense reasons need to be wooden, strike anywhere type and carried in a waterproof container which has an abrasive patch glued under the screw-off lid.

Avoid completely any waterproof or wind-proof matches, as they will only ignite on the special abrasive strip on the package which sounds acceptable except that if the box gets wet or even damp the box just disintegrates when you try to strike the match.

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