Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fire On The Homestead

Happy Easter to all. We're just sitting at the house today getting mentally prepared for the week ahead and enjoying the time off. This post is an important one I thought needed to be put out for people.

I've noticed very few websites, books, or magazines mention the fire hazards associated with living on the homestead including your survival retreat. Fire is an ever present danger, especially in dry desert areas like Texas. Very few people would want to make Texas their go to place when calamity strikes but not everyone can or wants to run to the mountains to live.
No matter where you live fire is a possibility. It can destroy your home, barn, crops, shelters, and kill you and/or animals. There are medical dangers as well but first lets look at the homestead issues. A medical post about fire dangers will be presented at a later time.
To start, dead refuse in the field from this years harvest is a good thing. It keeps the soil from blowing away, keeps the water from washing it away, and helps the soil to hold moisture so microorganisms can work on the organic material and improve it for the coming year. But you have to consider the danger of that field catching fire. A spark from your chimney, spark from your outdoor fire, an enemy, maybe even lightening can send that field up in flames. Those flames may then jump to the forest and torch the area taking your home with it.
What would you do if a fire starts in your home? Do you have an effective, or at least a plan in place, to combat the fire? I hope so. Building a metal structure as your home is good. It should last a long time and it will provide a good defense against small arms if such an event occurs. The problem with a metal home is the heat that will build up during the summer or during a fire. The support and skin may be metal but there will be plenty of burnable material in and around that home to cook you to death. In a severe crisis you may not have the water pressure to run a hose or sprinkler system to control the fire. You'll have to escape and watch, waiting it out until you can return.
Lets do it this way for easier reading and reference;

Structure (Interior Source)
This type of fire can be cause by lightening, an enemy, a wildfire, or your chimney. Even when things hit the fan you need to make sure you clean your chimney. Keep it clean so you don't lose what your trying to protect.
Having a water tower to provide water pressure would help a lot here but you'd have to consider the possibility of an enemy destroying it as well. As preppers we can't prepare for everything but we try. Another aid would be a large body of water close by such as a large pond, lake, stream, or river. This method requires many hands to carry buckets of water and a steady and quick pace to prevent extensive damage.
Unless your using a solar system you won't have to worry about wiring catching fire so your main concern will be chimney fires. Have your place set up in advanced with flashing around the chimney and regular maintenance to reduce your chance of fire. Be careful using heating and lighting sources such as candles and kerosene lamps. These cause many indoor fires. Remember smoke is the enemy because it can suffocate you. Watch dogs are good, alarming you if something is out of the ordinary.

Structure (Exterior Source) and Field
The fire starters are the same as above. The best defense here is a good offense. This means keeping an eye on dead brush. Maintain a perimeter between all structures, fields, and forest areas. Ten to twenty feet makes a good fire line between the forest and your structures and fields. The fire line will reduce the chance that the fire will jump to other fuel sources. Another good reason to have the fire line is it will open your field of view, allowing you to see intruders from a greater distance.

In a TEOTWAWKI situation there will not be metal “a plenty” so you will have to fall back on wood as your primary building material. Thats just fine because thick logs make great homes and won't burn as easy as the thin pieces of wood used in todays construction. You should plan now for how you want your landscape to look and the material you would like to build your buildings with. It makes it easier to have the setup now and be used to it.

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