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australia:campfires

camp fires

see also:

  • FIRE DANGER PERIOD restrictions apply
    • in Victoria, open camp fires MUST NOT be lit in windy conditions when wind is more than 10kph during a FIRE DANGER PERIOD which may be declared from Oct-Apr 1)
    • in Sth Aust:
      • NO fires, including barbecues and campfires, are permitted in FOREST RESERVES between November 30 to April 30 each year. However, gas barbecues may be permitted in designated areas in Mount Lofty Ranges forest under certain conditions.2)
      • in Sth Aust, in NATIONAL PARKS, signs are placed at the park entrance when fires are permitted, but they can only be lit in designated areas. Many National Parks and Wildlife Reserves have total bans on the use of wood fires.
  • see also:
  • in addition, local municipalities (councils or shires) may have their own local laws in relation to lighting fires
  • some National Parks ban solid fuel stoves or fires:
  • NO FIRE is permitted on TOTAL FIRE BAN DAYS (some gas/electric stoves may be exempted for food preparation) without a permit

Introduction

  • camping with an open fire is a traditional activity that harks back to the days of cave dwellers as an essential survival technique and perhaps that is why so many are attracted to the ambience and the social gathering aspects as well as just chilling out in front of the warmth while you watch the Milky Way
  • from April to Sept, the nights are long and cold in the southern states, by early April after Daylight Savings has ended, the sun sets around 6pm and this gets earlier as the days progress - a wood fire becomes an important source of warmth and light to those who wish to stay up and socialise
  • as much as it is loved, it can be problematic, dangerous or just despised by the many who believe that fire scars should not be left by campers - perhaps a mute point if there are already maintained fire pits
  • if there are no fire pits, please respect the environment and do not create new ones unless in an emergency
    • there are ways to reduce fire scars such as portable, elevated fire pits but even these can kill nearby vegetation
  • unattended camp fires are a significant cause of bushfires which can have devastating widespread impacts

So you plan on going camping and having a camp fire - well be prepared!

  • you MUST understand in detail the local laws and regulations regarding camp fires
  • you MUST bring adequate water to be able to completely put the fire out
    • bring lots of extra water (~10-20L per night)
  • you may have to bring your own wood or order it to be delivered by locals
    • dead branches and trees are important parts of the environment to allow many animals to survive
    • if collecting wood is permitted, you may need an axe and chainsaw!
      • watch out for snakes when collecting wood - snakes often sleep in or under wood and will think you are attacking them.
    • for a group camp fire, the fire needs to be big enough to keep everyone warm so aim for 10kg firewood per person per night (if the fire is too small, people will tend to get too close, stand around it and create fire hazard/burns risk)
    • a small axe will be useful for chopping kindling
    • a Canadian wood splitter axe will be useful to split large log segments
  • you are going to create fire and smoke - think well before you do so
    • don't light a fire in a valley on a night with no wind when it is likely to become foggy - the smoke will just settle around your camp sites and you will have extremely poor air quality to try to breathe all night!
    • check the wind direction and likely changes so the smoke does not blow into your tent or others
    • bring your “sitting around fire” clothing:
      • your clothing will become smokey and remain so until washed
      • avoid light flammable clothing near the fire - 3rd degree burns may be the result
      • don't get drunk - you may trip and fall into the fire
  • bring cooking options
    • don't forget aluminium foil!
  • don't forget to bring chairs!
  • bring burns first aid
    • unlike hot water scalds, fires will generally cause full thickness 3rd degree burns which usually need skin grafts - prevention is always best!
    • Glad Wrap is excellent for large severe burns until you can get to a hospital
  • have a responsible person manage fire safety including trip hazards!
    • a long handled shovel works well for managing the coals and burning wood
  • consider lip balm as your lips are likely to dry out and chap from prolonged radiant heat exposure and this may then cause an outbreak of cold sores

wood log burning rates

  • When heated, wood undergoes thermal degradation and combustion to produce gases, vapours, levoglucosan tars and carbonaceous char
    • hemicellulose decomposes first at 180 – 350°C
    • followed by cellulose (275 – 350°C)
    • then lignin (250 – 500°C)
    • Cross-linking reactions dehydrate cellulose and the re-polymerized levoglucosan begin to yield aromatic structures, becoming graphitic carbon structures at around 500°C. This decomposition process is termed pyrolysis.
    • the charred surface of wood can have temperatures of 800°C, the main pyrolysis of wood begins at temperatures above 225°C and ends below 500°C
    • When an appropriate volatile fuel-air concentration has been reached, oxidation of the pyrolysis gases leads to flaming combustion
    • in contrast, oxidation of the remaining char produces glowing or smouldering combustion
    • Smoke production depends on the burning material, oxygen supply and type of combustion (e.g. flaming or glowing).
    • at low burn temperatures, more smoke, tars and char is produced (hence not good for wood stoves to burn at low temperatures as creosote will build up more readily in the chimney)
  • provided the whole of the log is involved, the rate of mass loss during combustion is constant
  • around 60-80% is converted to convective heat and the remainder as radiant heat
  • most Australian woods give the same energy output of around 17MJ/kg (air-dried pine is less dense than air dried eucalypt hard woods so you need more to get the same mass in kg)
  • a wood log burns by:
    • flaming combustion
    • and glowing combustion (those lovely ashes in your camp fire)
  • the proportion of flaming combustion decreases with log diameter
    • 45% for oven-dried jarrah 65-75mm diameter
  • forest logs:
    • log burn time in seconds (assuming whole log is burning) = 7.729 x 105 x log radius in metres1.686 for logs < 12.5 cm (larger diameter logs have higher moisture rates and tend not to maintain flaming combustion 4)

wood stove alternatives to open fires

  • these are much less likely to cause nearby damage from embers
  • function much better in windy conditions - open camp fires MUST NOT be lit in windy conditions
  • use much less wood
  • much easier to light in the rain
  • can be used to create a hot tent with ventilation and fire risk precautions in place (eg. Flashing Kit, Double Wall Pipes, Fireproof Matting) - if the tent is not heat tolerant (eg. lightweight nylon tents) you will need to place the stove at a distance
  • but are NOT suited to larger groups

Simple cooking ideas for dummies

  • potatoes or sweet corn
    • wrap potatoes or sweet corn in aluminum foil and place on hot coals, rotate frequently, and wait til cooked
      • perhaps 10-20 minutes for sweet corn
      • ~30 minutes or so for potatoes depending upon size
  • marshmallows - but don't let them catch fire!
  • bananas and chocolate or marshmallows
    • slit a banana longways through the concave inner curve through the peel and through the banana but stopping before you get to the peel on the other side
    • open the banana slit and place chocolates or marshmallows
    • close as best you can and wrap in aluminium foil
    • place in the edge of the fire or on coals and wait about 15-20minutes then open and eat with a spoon
australia/campfires.txt · Last modified: 2022/07/14 18:18 by gary1

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