Achievement Course: Firemanship
Recommended Ages: 10-18 years of age
Approximate Completion Time Frame: Varies

St. Florian lived in the 3rd century in what is now known as Austria. He was a Roman officer during the Diocletianic Persecution when many Christians were murdered. After holding strong to his Christian Faith he gave himself up to the governor, Aquilinus, when the Christians were being executed. He was scourged, half-flayed, set afire, and then drowned in the River Enns. He is the patron saint of firefighters. There are firefighter and first responder prayer groups in the U.S.A. that look to St. Florian for his intercession during their difficult times.

Objective: To execute proper fire-starting techniques and proper fire handling protocol.


In many survival situations, the ability to start a fire can make the difference between living and dying. Fire can fulfill many needs. It can provide warmth and comfort. It not only cooks and preserves food, but it also helps to purify water, sterilizes bandages, signals for rescue and provides protection from animals. The ability to create a fire is also a psychological boost by providing peace of mind and companionship.

  1. Be able to establish a good location for your fire (and bad locations).
    • Is the area protected from the wind?
    • Is it suitably placed in relation to your shelter?
    • Will it concentrate heat in the direction you desire?
    • Has a supply of wood (or fuel)?
  2. Build a fire ring out of rocks- DO NOT USE WET ROCKS (They can explode)
  3. Know the difference between Tinder, Kindling, and Fuel.
    • Tinder – a dry material that ignites with little heat (i.e. straw, dead evergreen needles, lint from pocket seams, charred cloth, cotton, dryer lint, etc.)
    • Kindling – is readily combustible material that you add to the burning tinder (i.e. small twigs, small strips of wood, heavy cardboard, etc.)
    • Fuel – is less combustible material that burns slowly and steadily once ignited (i.e. dry branches from the trees, dried animal dung, coal, etc.)
  4. Learn and demonstrate each of the primitive ways to start a fire (you must make your own Bow and drill, and Fire-plow).
    • Flint and Steel – Strike a flint or other hard, sharp edged rock with a piece of carbon steel.
    • Fire-plow – Rub a hardwood shaft against a softer wood base. Cut a straight groove in the base and plow the blunt tip of the shaft up and down the groove.
    • Bow and Drill – You will need the following:
      • Socket – The socket is an easily grasped stone (or piece of hardwood or bone) with a slight depression on one side. Use it to hold the drill in place and to apply downward pressure.
      • Drill – The drill should be a straight, seasoned hardwood stick about 2 centimeters (~ ¾ of an inch) in diameter and 25 centimeters long (~ 10 inches). The top end is round and the low end is blunt (to produce more friction).
      • Fire board – A seasoned softwood board about 2.5 centimeters (~ 1 inch) thick and 10 centimeters (~ 4 inches) wide is preferable. The size is up to you. Cut a depression about 2 centimeters (~ ¾ of an inch) from the edge on one side of the board. On the underside, make a V-shaped cut from the edge of the board to the depression.
      • Bow – The bow is a resilient, green stick about 2.5 centimeters (~ 1 inch) in diameter and a string. The type of wood is not important. The bowstring can be made of any type of sturdy cordage. You tie the bowstring from one end of the bow to the other, without slack.
  5. Learn and be skilled in the modern methods.
    • Matches – Demonstrate the ability to start a one match fire consistently.
    • Lighter – Demonstrate the ability to start a fire with a lighter.
    • Convex Lens – Angle the lens to concentrate the sun’s rays on the tinder.
    • Battery – Attach a wire to each terminal. Touch the ends of the bare wires together next to the tinder so the sparks will light it.
  6. Know the 4 ways to build a fire.
    • Tepee – Arrange the tinder with a few sticks of kindling in the shape of a tepee (or upside down cone). Light the center. As a tepee, the outside logs will fall inward, feeding the fire.
    • Lean-to – Push a green stick into the ground at a 30-degree angle. Point the end of the stick in the direction of the wind. Place some tinder under this lean-to stick. Lean pieces of kindling against the lean-to stick (smallest to largest). Light tinder. As the kindling burns, add more kindling. Each time you add kindling, increase the size (or diameter) of the wood.
    • Cross-Ditch – Scratch a cross about 30 centimeters (~ 12 inches) in size on the ground. Dig the cross 7-8 centimeters (~ 3 inches) deep. Put a large wad of tinder in the middle of the cross. Build a kindling pyramid above the tinder. Light tinder. Add kindling as needed.
    • Pyramid – Place two small logs parallel on the ground about 2 feet apart. Place a solid layer of small logs perpendicular to the first two logs. Add three to four layers of logs, each layer smaller than and at right angles to the layer below it. Make a starter fire at the top of the pyramid. As the fire burns, it will ignite the logs below. This gives you a fire that burns downward, requiring little to no attention during the night.
  7. Start a fire using one of the three primitive methods.
  8. Start a fire using one of the modern methods.
  9. Maintain the fire and Bank the fire to keep coals alive overnight.
  10. Discuss fire safety including Stop, Drop, and Roll.
  11. Extinguish the fire properly before leaving camp.
    • Let the firewood burn to ash.
    • Pour a large amount of water on the fire and ALL embers. Continue to pour water until the “hissing” sound stops.
    • Stir the ash and embers with a shovel.
    • Scrape all wood to remove any embers.
    • With the shovel, stir and make sure it is all wet and cool to the touch.
    • If water is unavailable, you may use dirt.
      • Mix a large amount of dirt and sand with the embers.
      • Dirt and sand will need to be added and stirred until all of it is cool.
    • DO NOT bury the fire! This could lead to the fire smoldering, catching roots on fire and leading to a wildfire.

Additional information will be provided within the “blog” section of this webpage.