How to Control a Homestead Brush Fire

George Beekman gives helpful guidelines on how to control a brush fire that starts near your homestead.

| July/August 1975

The country dweller has to be many things: a bit of a doctor, a bit of a plumber, a bit of all those other specialists who handle' emergencies for city folk. Well, I can't give you a Red Cross first aid course, and I certainly can't offer you police protection, but there is one type of mishap which I might be able to help you deal with: wildfire. 

How to Control a Homestead Brush Fire

While three years of fighting fires with the U.S. Forest Service hardly makes me an expert, the experience has given me the basic knowledge I need to deal with most types of rural or backwoods blazes and I'll try to pass on enough of what I've learned so that you'll know what to do if flames spring up on your property. If you live more than a few minutes from a fire station, the information might come in handy someday.  

No, this isn't going to be the same talk the fire chief gave your class back in fourth grade. If you don't already know how to store oily rags, gas cans, and matches safely, I'm sure your rural fire department will be glad to advise you and they're also the people to call if smoke is pouring from one of your buildings and you don't have a chemical extinguisher. I'm here to tell you how to understand and control a brush, grass, or timber fire before the flames spread to the house.

The first rule of fire fighting is the simplest, the most important, and the most often ignored: DON'T DO ANYTHING FOOLISH! Wildfire can be an unpredictable, even deadly animal. Keep thinking … all the time!

OK, let's get down to specifics. What do you do if you discover a brush fire in the woodlot or a patch of grass ablaze in the meadow? First, size up the situation — quickly — by asking yourself the following questions:

[1] How big is the fire? If it's more than a few feet across, you should probably get help.

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