How to light a fire and barbecue safely in forests
We can all help to prevent unnecessary fires in the forest and countryside. You can help by keeping an eye on the fire danger in the Brandrisk Ute app (Fire Danger Outdoors) and by adapting your activities accordingly.
Check if you are allowed to light a fire or barbecue at your location. It is always important that you light a fire and barbecue safely.
Keep an eye on the fire danger and fire ban
It is your personal responsibility to find out whether lighting a fire or barbecue is permitted where you are. Check if there is a fire ban for your location. You can do this by checking the Brandrisk Ute (Fire Danger Outdoors) app. More detailed information about the fire ban can be found on your municipality’s or county administrative board’s website. Fires and barbecues may be permitted at designated barbecue areas; check for local decisions with your municipality/county administrative board. Even if there is no fire ban, it may not be appropriate to light a fire or barbecue due to the high fire danger.
Choose the right location
Choose a suitable location for your fire, e.g. on gravel or sandy soil, and not close to dry vegetation. Use a designated barbecue area if available – if there is none, a portable stove is always an alternative. Do not light fires on peatland, moss or humus-rich woodland; embers can go deep into the ground and smoulder before flaring up later. Do not light a fire near anthills or tree stumps, as they are difficult to extinguish if they catch fire. Do not start a fire directly on or next to rocks. The rocks can become discoloured and crack.
Make a fire pit
The easiest way to make a fire pit is to dig up gravel or lay stones or lay a strip of soil around the fire. Keep the fire small.
Only use suitable fuel
Examples of suitable fuel include branches, twigs and cones lying loose on the ground. Never use living wood. Dead trees should also not be used as firewood. Do not burn rubbish, a fire is not a place for waste incineration. It is better to use safer and more environment-friendly products such as lighter cubes or lighting paper than flammable liquids. It is a good idea to bring your own dry firewood.
Never light a fire when there are strong winds
Check which way the wind is blowing before you start lighting the fire. The wind can carry sparks into the forest or to dry grass, which can then ignite. If the wind becomes stronger, extinguish the fire.
Make sure you have water to put the fire out
You should always have access to water to extinguish the fire and any remaining embers. Even if the fire has burned out, the embers need to be extinguished properly. It’s a good idea to water the ground around the fire both before and after you have lit it.
Avoid using disposable barbecues
Avoid using disposable barbecues, they can set fire to their surroundings.
If you do choose to use a disposable barbecue, it is important that you set it up correctly. They get very hot on the underside and can set fire to wooden benches and tables, as well as vegetation. Always place your disposable barbecue on a non-combustible surface, such as gravel or sand. Make sure you extinguish it and do not leave it behind. Always recycle disposable barbecues properly. There are sometimes special containers for disposable barbecues.
Cooking with a portable stove
A portable stove is often a good alternative for preparing food in the forest or countryside. Here are some tips here on how to use it properly and reduce the risk of harm to yourself and nature.
Using a portable stove
A portable stove is often a good alternative for preparing food outdoors. Be careful when using a portable stove and filling it with flammable liquid. Allow the burner to extinguish and cool down before adding new fuel.
Is there a fire ban?
First of all, check whether the municipality or county administrative board has issued a fire ban for your location. You can do this by checking the start page (Forecast tab) of the Brandrisk Ute app. More detailed information about the fire ban can be found on your municipality’s or county administrative board’s website.
Check the fire danger in the Brandrisk Ute app
Even if there is no fire ban, it may not be appropriate to light a fire or barbecue due to the high fire danger. Use the Brandrisk Ute app. Read the texts displayed in the fire danger forecasts.
Always place the portable stove on a stable, non-combustible surface. Only use the portable stove outdoors.
Use the correct fuel
Exercise care when handling and using flammable liquids. Use the correct fuel and a canister with a safety cap.
Never pour methylated spirit into a hot stove
Never pour methylated spirit into a stove until you have felt the base with your finger to make sure that the burner is cold. A hot burner can ignite the fuel and cause a fire or burn injuries.
Do not place the fuel near the stove
If you have to refill the stove, take the burner away from the stove. This is particularly important if you need to refill with more fuel in order to finish cooking.
Let the fuel burn out
Always let the fuel in the burner burn out. Store the burner in a bag, this will prevent fuel getting into the pan, and also prevent corrosion.
Mix the fuel with 10% water
The stove will become less sooty if you mix the methylated spirit with water, max 10% (not in winter).
Do not let children handle the portable stove themselves. Always supervise children and fires.
Always have water to hand in case combustible material near the stove catches fire. Never extinguish the stove itself with water. Cover the pan to smother the fire. Keep a fire blanket to hand.
Lighting the portable stove
Light the portable stove by carefully holding a burning match over the burner. Bear in mind that it can be difficult to see the flame, especially in strong daylight.
Extinguishing the stove
Extinguish the flame by putting on the lid – Never extinguish a stove with water.
If you are using multiple portable stoves, make sure you keep some distance between them. Never place a portable stove close to a fire or hot stove.
f fire breaks out or starts to spread
If there is a fire or a fire is starting to spread, do as follows:
- Call 112
Call 112 and alert the emergency services, and warn those threatened by the fire. You can also use the 112 app in your smartphone to automatically send your location. Describe what has happened and be prepared to answer questions.
- Try to stop the fire
You can use branches to stop the fire. Work in the direction of the wind. Remove all twigs, except for those about a metre from the top, and if possible soak the branches first.
- Try to subdue the fire
Sweep burning material towards the fire and press the branches against the ground to smother the fire. Avoid beating with strong blows, as this makes sparks fly around and the fire picks up speed.
- Remove combustible material
Remove brushwood, twigs, moss and other combustible material in front of the fire that might cause it to spread.
- Call 112
Hiking in the forest and countryside
If you are parking a car, avoid tall grass. The catalytic converter underneath the car gets very hot while driving.
Packing list for hiking, if you intend to light a fire or barbecue:
- Equipment and material to light the fire
- Your own dry firewood, to make it easy to light the fire
- A vessel/bottle of water to extinguish the fire, or something to fetch water with
- Ideally, a shovel for extinguishing the fire
- A bag to take your rubbish away with you
- If you smoke, a container for cigarette ends
- Mobile phone, to call 112 in the event of an emergency
Latest reviewed: 12 May 2022