Camp fire etiquette

Submitted: Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 07:07
ThreadID: 134148 Views:4428 Replies:14 FollowUps:27
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I often go camping with kids and nubies and have a few rules around the camp fire. I'm not big on rules but in the case of an open fire I am pretty strict.

Of course I have the basic rules that I apply to myself like stick to park rules and fire bans, reasonably sized fires and minimal impact, keep to existing fireplaces, if possible, extinguish properly, only use dead fallen wood and cover the fire when leaving etc etc.

The fire etiquette I'm interested in are those for kids and inexperienced campers to make the fire experience safe and enjoyable. Rules for around the campfire if you like.

-No walking around the fire on the rocks
-No waving / playing of fire sticks outside the fire ring
-No cans / bottles in the fire
-When someone is cooking on the fire, no one else is to touch it.
-No running or playing inside the circle of chairs

I don't like being anal about this, but I am sure others have a few good hints about sitting around the campfire.







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Reply By: MUZBRY- Life member(Vic) - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 08:00

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 08:00
Gday
Sounds like all grandpas are the same.
Muzbry
Great place to be Mt Blue Rag 27/12/2012

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Reply By: Member - Alan H (QLD) - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 08:06

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 08:06
My pet hate is to see rocks surrounding a fire. If you have ever seen a rock explode you would also stay clear. Often the rocks are gathered from around watercourses and have water in them

I think the days of open fires are numbered.

Alan
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 08:22

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 08:22
Hi Alan

Totally agree and have been on the other end of an exploding rock.

We use a SnowPeak when in areas where we can not dig a safe hole and they are safe, put out as much heat as a normal camp fire and pack away flat when stored in your vehicle.


Cheers




Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 12:59

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 12:59
If the day comes when I can't have a fire, total fire bans excepted, I will give up camping.
I once travelled three quarters around Australia, as much on unsealed roads and tracks as possible and without any artificial heat source for cooking
The best trip I ever had.
There were some places I couldn't go to but generally saw most things I wanted to.
Long may it last
Ross
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Follow Up By: Member - silkwood - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 10:42

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 10:42
Ross, the day has come to many campgrounds and this will only increase. I imaging there will be some area that allow fires for years to come. I am fiercely against fires in inappropriate places (deserts for one, unless you bring your fuel with you) and have lobbied councils and National Parks in three states to disallow fires in certain sites, but I cannot see the logic in banning them in all sites (I do not believe this will happen.

I love a campfire myself (having been building them for over 50 years) but I'd say around 70% of our camping now does not include a fire. If you are going to give up camping just because you can't have a fire-
1. There are a lot of campsites off your radar now (unless, like many, you illegally and irresponsibly ignore the rules).
2. I'd personally be questioning what you get out of camping anyway?
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Follow Up By: Gronk - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 09:49

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 09:49
I too enjoy a campfire at every opportunity. Even when its been 35deg during the day, it can be 15 of a night, so apart from cooking ( how else do you do spuds wrapped in alfoil ?), its surprising how often you have one for warmth.....

And nothing better than relaxing by a fire with a stubbie in hand gazing at the stars.....

Not sure why you can't have one in a desert, as long as you bring your own wood ?
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Follow Up By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 10:37

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 10:37
Gronk,
I, too, don't follow the argument against fires in the desert.
70% of mainland Australia consist of desert and the population density is extremely
low even allowing for travellers so the "damage" potential is virtually non existant.
For example, last year we travelled the Anne Beadell and during its approx 800 KM
we saw 3 other parties travelling in the opposite direction over 8 days.
Assuming the same number travelling in our direction there was a total 7 parties on the road over 8 days. assuming that was representative of traffic density for 40 weeks of the year and assuming ALL of the travellers have a fire EVERY night then
over a year there is on average one fire every 350 metres on one very small part of a desert which covers 350000 sq km;s.
By any stretch of the imagination no serious damage will be caused.
We can't let the no fires brigade spread totally misleading arguments without countering them with facts
Ross
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Follow Up By: Dusty D - Monday, Jan 23, 2017 at 08:21

Monday, Jan 23, 2017 at 08:21
Assumptions are not facts Ross, unless of course you happen to be a politician.

The biggest issue with travellers and fires in the desert has nothing to do with population density, it is the environmental damage caused to a very fragile ecosystem when a group of people gather and start burning every log, stick and twig within staggering distance with absolutely no concern for whatever life forms are destroyed.

We all know that the size of a fire increases commensurate to the amount of alcohol consumed and that is not an assumption, that is fact.

Dusty
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Follow Up By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Monday, Jan 23, 2017 at 19:26

Monday, Jan 23, 2017 at 19:26
Thanks Dusty D,
Your follow up precisely illustrates my point about the anti fire brigade and their lack of factual argument.
To link alcohol consumption with responsible desert travellers is misleading to say the least
As to burning every log, stick and twig within staggering distance is an emotive, sweeping generalisation with no supporting evidence.
It certailnly has not been my experience over many years of desert travel.
You cast doubt on my facts by calling them assumptions put reply with only your assertions which are devoid of fact
Ross
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Follow Up By: Dusty D - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 07:03

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 07:03
Hmmm, I wasn't real flash in English classes at school Ross, but I'm pretty sure that when someone uses the word "assuming" three times in the one sentence, the point they are trying to put across would be best described as assumptions and not actual facts.

Perhaps you are talking about these new "alternate facts".

I've been a desert traveller for many years also Ross as well as many other remote areas and I have seen first hand on numerous occasions the destruction caused by those who don't give a damn for the environment. In a lot of these cases I can certainly link excessive consumption of alcohol to the behaviour of the offenders. The rubbish they leave behind is testament to that.

With the increase in numbers of people travelling through desert areas there also comes an increase in unacceptable practices such as burning anything they can find which includes every log, stick and twig near some camps.

Sure, responsible travellers do the right thing, it's the irresponsible that don't and their numbers are definitely increasing right across the country.

I'm not a member of the "anti fire brigade" as you put it Ross, I enjoy a fire, but not to the detriment of the environment.

Dusty
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 08:32

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 08:32
The question of the camping practices of others has been well canvassed in a number of threads on the EO site in recent times and perhaps comes under a broader topic of “camping etiquette”.

And not surprisingly so, what is clear from these discussions is that we all have our own interpretation of what is reasonable, or what is fair – the variances in opinion is wide as evidenced in this thread on fires.

In our travels we have seen campfires that would be best described as a “towering inferno” that has every bit of dead-timber in proximity torched on the pyre. Others appear to be restrained in the use of fire.

For us, we enjoy a camp fire when appropriate and after taking into account the prevailing weather conditions and possible threats to our immediate area from burning a fire. We certainly don’t feel we need one every day...

But on desert areas specifically, these are ecologically sensitive areas and the limited amount of dead-wood in these areas provide a habitat for insects, small mammals and reptiles. Dead-wood also plays a part in soil erosion control and helps plants establish in a difficult environment.

Over time, the removal of dead-wood from these areas does have an impact, especially if the “towering inferno brigade” is on the move. There are well researched and documented articles that support this view. In many desert park areas this is controlled by either not allowing fires, or by allowing fires with wood sourced elsewhere and brought into the area by campers. But even this has problems associated with it as it potentially brings in weeds and other plants not native to the immediate area…

Am I sounding like a “greenie” – if thinking about the environment puts me in that category, then so be it…

Someone else pinpointed one of the key problems with fire management and assessment of suitability when camping, and that is many people are not exposed to it in their daily lives anymore, leading to safety issues, which was the point of this thread, and to suitability and correct campfire etiquette.

Before we put a match to the campfire whenever we are Out and About we always pause and ask ourselves, do we need one, what impact will firewood collection have on the area, and are the prevailing weather conditions suitable for a fire…

By employing these simple “rules” we do our bit for the environment, after all the appeal of travelling these areas is the special beauty it has, so best we protect it…

But hey, sitting back around a campfire enjoying each other’s company is a great way to spend an evening when suitable and appropriate…

Cheers, Baz – The Landy
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Follow Up By: Dusty D - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 09:01

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 09:01
"Am I sounding like a “greenie” – if thinking about the environment puts me in that category, then so be it…"

I think most responsible travellers have a bit of a green streak Baz, it's just that the shade varies.

Dusty
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Follow Up By: Member - David M (SA) - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 09:41

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 09:41
Perhaps travellers should be required to submit a EIS before
setting of. :)
Dave.
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Follow Up By: Paul E6 - Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 14:54

Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 14:54
when camping in the vicinity around the Murray near towns, I'm always shocked by the stripped-bare appearance of the areas near the banks, where people camp most
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Follow Up By: Baz - The Landy - Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 16:22

Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 16:22
Was looking through some photos from a trip into one of our Western deserts and I came across this one.

To me it amplifies just how priceless scarce deadwood in desert country is for reptiles...

This is what keeps me coming back to the "desert country"...fires, I'll take or leave, especially if it preserves habitats like this. But, hey, that is my preference, may not be everyone's - I get that...

Cheers, Baz - The Landy



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Follow Up By: Shaker - Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 16:30

Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 16:30
Quote: "when camping in the vicinity around the Murray near towns, I'm always shocked by the stripped-bare appearance of the areas near the banks, where people camp most"

Didn't you think that maybe the water "sweeps it" when the river is in flood?

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Follow Up By: Paul E6 - Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 16:57

Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 16:57
perhaps, but I ddint think it would often enough get that high near Echuca. If it did, the town wouldn't be there now.
plus there is lots of physical evidence of human destruction.
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Reply By: phil p7 - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 08:45

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 08:45
Tony I can assure that you are not anal about this.
I have been a paramedic for 27 years (about to retire and travel this awesome land)
In this time I have attended to a lot of burns - some related to camp fires.

You are correct with your fire etiquette especially with children. When our children were growing up and we went camping we imposed strict rules in and around fires.

The only thing I can add is to make sure the fire is out - by pouring water on the coals before you move. (if water is available)
Covering them up only hides what's still burning underneath and what's covered cannot be seen. Even adults have walked over hot coals not knowing it was a fire site.

Children love playing close to and around camp fires and parents have to be very vigilant and enforce the points you have mentioned above.

Maybe I am the anal one.

Cheers
Phil
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 10:10

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 10:10
I have also seen steam burns from pouring water on the coals. We never restoke the fire on the day that we are leaving, just use gas instead.
As mentioned above, my pet hate is people throwing drink cans & stubbies in to the fire.

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Reply By: Member - David M (SA) - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 10:16

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 10:16
Thou shalt not use anyone else's Pokey stick.
Dave.
AnswerID: 607790

Reply By: AlanTH - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 10:31

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 10:31
I won't mention the name of the club involved but they are usually fairly good when doing their bit on clean ups etc. along with local rangers, but the attitude of some to the "traditional" camp fire is appalling.
Some have a fire so big you have to sit metres away or get burnt and even got told off severely by one camp area manager as being stupid.... you'd think a bit of common sense would have helped.
One member who admittedly has a disability insists on "his" fire being placed close by his vehicle for him to cook and then burns plastic and other shit on it afterwards!
He reckons it's better for him to do that than take it back and it gets burnt down the tip. Couldn't care less if anyone down wind gets the fumes or not and the Cook has a bad chest problem and it really makes her feel ill.
In fact there's little consulting with others about where the fires going to be, it's just lit where someone wants it.
When she complained to the club president she was told to "stop moaning"!!!
It's got to the stage where we're not going camping with them again, if they can't take others into consideration, we're not bothering with them.
We rarely ever use their fire anyway for the same reason the OP said about others interfering with it when people are trying to cook.
Sheer unadulterated pig ignorance from many involved.
That's my rant for today....... until later anyway. :-))
AlanTH
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 11:32

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 11:32
In Victoria fires have to be a maximum of 1 metre in diameter & logs no longer than 1 metre.

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Follow Up By: Nigel Migraine - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 08:29

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 08:29
I'm with the club president.
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 09:15

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 09:15
There is absolutely no excuse for burning rubbish on the fire while people are still sitting there, it's inconsiderate & selfish which is exactly the way our society has gone!

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Follow Up By: garrycol - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 12:58

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 12:58
If it is combustible rubbish then why not burn it?
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 13:05

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 13:05
Because it's bloody ignorant!
Burn it when people have left the fire, not while they are sitting there.

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Follow Up By: Paul E6 - Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 17:04

Thursday, Jan 26, 2017 at 17:04
that reminds me of a time camping overnight with some grown-up-with-kids surfing mates - and their preteen boys.
one of them chucks a bag of various plastic food wrapper leavings into the fire. Dad didnt say anything, so I mumble "don't put that on the fire" and pulled it out. I didnt trust him not to do it again, so I put it in one of the cars about 20m away.
The little (cant think of a clean word) then retrieves it and does it again!
It stayed in there that time. What a little prick.
I don't have kids and I'm not his daddy, so I didnt have to be nice to him, and wasn't.
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Reply By: pop2jocem - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 11:57

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 11:57
We carry a fold up cooking plate, half hot plate, half grill. We only build a fire big enough to cook a meal, occasionally use a camp oven when the flames die down and boil the billy. We also carry a 2 burner gas stove to use if firewood is scarce or in case of fire bans.

I really struggle to understand why some find it necessary to have a fire so big it looks like a small house is going up in flames. Apart from the danger aspect, these people use every stick of wood within a 10 k radius so others have little or none.

If you need to keep warm that badly go and put an extra coat or trakky pants on.

GRRRRR

Cheers
Pop
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Reply By: The Bantam - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 14:11

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 14:11
because we now have a culture where most people do not have day to day experience with fire ..... some people and especially their kids have no idea.

I and most of you, grew up in a time where every household had an incinerator, only the rich barbequed on gas and 30% of the population had been in scouts or guides.

People under 40 do need to have fire safety explained.

This letting kids wave around burning sticks, drives me nuts ..... don't do it.
Letting kids play with the fire, period, is not a good idea.

We where hammered that fire was not something you play with.

Kids don't understand ...... yeh exactly.

Fire is a good servant but a very poor master.

cheers
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Reply By: gbc - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 18:41

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 18:41
Once the fireplace is set I get the kids to watch me draw 'the circle of death' around it with a stick. Oddly about the same diameter as where the parents chairs are. Zero children enter the circle of death unless invited for fire stoking lessons or the purpose of sacred marshmallow cooking. I can ease off now they are heading for their teens but can highly recommend the practice which was passed down to me.
AnswerID: 607818

Reply By: Member - MIKE.G - Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 21:23

Friday, Jan 20, 2017 at 21:23
We are sick of arriving at a campsite and finding a large fire pit - sometimes still burning - in the middle of the camping area. Digging a large hole, surrounding it with rocks and burning as much of the local scrub as you can seems to be the hobby of many travelers. We used to dig a small trench and put a grate, on short legs, over it to cook and keep warm. Unfortunately when the wind is blowing a small fire is useless. Thinking back to my childhood, where dad would cook the chops on Sunday, over a 20 lt drum using newspaper and a folding mesh holder got me thinking. For the past 6 years we have been carrying a 20 lt food oil drum (available from the local fast food outlet) with the top removed, a few holes around the side and an opening near the bottom to stoke the fire. It can be turned around when windy, you can sit near it, uses little wood, can be moved if the wind direction changes, weighs very little, the camp oven sits in it perfectly, suspended by the rim and the ash can be disposed of away from the camping area. I have even been asked on a few occasions "where did you buy that?
Cooks great chops as well.
Cheers,
Mike

AnswerID: 607825

Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 08:39

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 08:39
That is a nice solution if you're just a few people. Not great for a group of 10 or so people with a bunch of kids. Camping fires and cooking with just a few of people is a different issue. I use an Ezyspit in that situation or if I want to protect the ground surface. Very compact and good for up to about 8 people. Fits an Auspit rotisserie too.

If the wind is up, IMHO it's time to forget the open fire, it isn't legal or safe regardless of design. Embers can cause fires a long way away. Back to the gas stove for those days unfortunately.



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Reply By: Member - Odog - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 09:08

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 09:08
Read some where, people camping up in Cape York, had a fire going, when the whole thing exploded.. some idiot had buried a gas canister or aerosol can in the ground, under the fire pit.. think I recall, few of the campers were taken to hospital.. foolish and very dangerous thing to do.. we have a flat folding stainless steel fire place, which we picked up from a 4x4 show for $65.. suits us fine, easy to get a few heat beads going, and do a camp oven, when finished, throw a few small bits of wood on, to sit around after dinner.. very economical when used this way... Odog
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Reply By: The Explorer - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 11:52

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 11:52
Sign I spotted the other day at Lake Towerrinning camp ground (Shire of West Arthur - WA).



Where you get your firewood from and how much you burn is also an important consideration, besides safety issues/etiquette.

Cheers
Greg
I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Reply By: steved58 - Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 12:39

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017 at 12:39
I seldom bother with a fire but have often had some idiot set up camp right next to me and light a fire with anything available including wet wood and smoke my campsite out sometimes even during total fire bans Watched one guy light a fire during 37degree heat on a overnight stop near southern cross not too long after a bushfire had claimed some truckies lives makes my blood boil some people have a fasination with fire Don't get me wrong a camp fire in the right place at the right time is extremely attractive but a lot of people have no commonsense with fire
Steve
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Follow Up By: D-MaxerWA - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 02:05

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 02:05
The last time I went bush, my mate reckoned the only way to cook was on the fire. The next night, it was my turn. I fired up the gas BBQ I had brought along and got a mouthful of shit. After eating the meal I produced, the next night, he asked if I was going to use my BBQ again. We used it every night after that. Mind you, it is a Ziegler and Brown, or a weber if you like. But it cooks just great. We do have a slide out cooker, but this is the ducks nuts. We only use the slide out to boil water.
D-MaxerWA

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Follow Up By: Gronk - Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 09:58

Sunday, Jan 22, 2017 at 09:58
Does the ziegler do roast spuds wrapped in alfoil...?.and come out nice and brown ?

Maybe I'm old fashioned, but a campfire is usually the centrepiece of a campspot.

Although nowadays I usually use my own fireplace.....a little 800mm round flying saucer on legs....uses less wood and gets the heat up a bit closer to the body..
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 10:18

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 10:18
I must say, it does amaize me that people go to the trouble of taking those webber Q's and similar all the way to the bush so they have the privilege of cooking on a gas derived from petrol.

IMHO nothing beats cooking on coals.

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Reply By: Baz - The Landy - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 08:43

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 08:43
Hi Boobook...

A good topic to raise...

As mesmerising and pleasant as a fire is, they are dangerous and from our travels we often observe behaviours where it is clear that these dangers are not fully recognised.

Of course, there are many other considerations to take into account before striking a match to get the fire started, including environmental and prevailing weather conditions...

Like many, we employ a "no-go zone" for kids around the fire, it takes no more than a split second for a moment in the bush around the campfire to turn into a lifetime of pain for someone...

Cheers, Baz - The Landy
AnswerID: 607922

Follow Up By: Gronk - Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 19:26

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2017 at 19:26
Certainly bad things can happen...fire and kids......but in the current nanny state we live in, parents should do what they always were supposed to, and that is supervise their kids.....whether it is by the creek or by the fire.

Driving to the campsite is dangerous, but I think most adults have learnt how to minimise risks in life......although there are still the few that try and spoil it for everyone.
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Reply By: R.J.W. - Friday, Jan 27, 2017 at 08:17

Friday, Jan 27, 2017 at 08:17
G'day, My rule for young children is no sticks in the fire unless a marshmallow is attached to the end. Cheers Rob
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