Sit. Rep. #67: Smokey lessons

1- Every outdoors book and every survival book that I have read talk and stress fire building, maintaining, using, and overall knowledge of fires.  Fire building is an essential skill.

  A- Fire is a chemical reaction.  Scouts may say it takes Fuel, Oxygen, and Heat to have a fire.  They may call it the fire triangle.  A firefighter will explain that it takes 4 parts to make a fire.  Fuel to burn.  Oxygen to support the chemical reaction called oxidation.  The heat vaporizes the fuel so that it can oxidize and burn.  In the fuel vapor, the chemical reaction takes place to mix all the parts together to support the continuing process we call fire.

   B- The fifth element that I might add is a spark or ignition source.  For our campfires, we use a match.  How did we light a match?  The fuel is in the match head.  The oxygen is in the air.  The heat comes from the friction that we cause when we strike the match along the side of the matchbox.  And that strike causes a spark to ignite the rest of the match which then becomes a continuing chemical reaction. 

   B2- Some fires do not require a spark.  They ignite through a process called spontaneous combustion.  The fuel, oxygen, chemical reaction ignite through internally generated heat.  It does not require an external source for ignition like a match.

  C- Look at a candle flame sometime.  Up real close to see the wick and the top of the candle.  Notice how the flame does not touch the candle wax.  It seems to burn (almost) in mid-air.  Now, wait a moment you might say.  The candle and wick are consumed by burning; how does that happen?  The flame heat evaporates the candle wax (and some of the wick) and then burns the vapors.  Solids and liquids can’t burn without becoming first vaporized.  Then the chemical reaction works and a flame occurs.

  D- Check out the many colors of the flame.  What can that tell you?  Why do firefighters talk about reading the smoke?  Reading the flames is just like reading the light spectrum from a distant star.  Same stuff – light.

  E- The by-products of a fire:  Light, Heat, Soot (mostly unburned carbon particles), CO2, CO, Ashes, Sound, Pressure (heat waves above the flames), Hydrogen Cyanide, Hydrogen Chloride, and there can be many other junk particles in the smoke & ashes depending on what was burned in the fire. How many of these do you want in your body?

   F- Remember: Be safe with fire at all times.  Do not leave a fire unattended.

   G- A fire that chemically reacts faster than the speed of sound is called an explosion.  That generates a noisy pressure wave and then a vacuum behind the pressure wave as by-products.

E- How do you open a door labeled “Fire Prevention”?
F- With a  Smo-Key.

2- We learned that the shape of a fire flame is caused by gravity.  Warm air rises.  Why?  Because it is less dense.  Cooler, more dense air replaces the warm air in a convection air current.  The ISS & NASA have deliberately set fires to detached cargo space ships to learn about fire in outer space – ie: in low gravity environments.  The flames do not look the same in outer space as they do here on earth.  That is because of gravity.

3- To build a fire in the outdoors:  Is it legal & safe to have a fire?  Can you monitor the fire and keep it safe and small.
   A- Find a suitable place to have a fire.  It is best to reuse an existing fire scar or fire ring.  A fire heat destroys the living part of the earth/soil beneath the fire.  Look above to see if there is adequate space for flames that will not damage or torch the tree limbs above.
   B- Establish a safety radius of non-combustibles of 10′ around the fire pit.  A larger ring may be necessary if the wind is up or predicted.
   C- If an existing fire pit is not available,  Take some sand or gravel and build a base to insulate the fire from the ground.  If building a fire pit in the snow – make the layers of insulation out of green sticks to keep your fire above the snow until it gets burning really well.
   D- I like having a shovel or rake and a bucket of water nearby for fire extinguishing.  Be safe with fire.
   E- Tinder is the smallest stuff that you will light first when building your fire.  Get & have 2 to 3 baseball caps full before striking the match.  Think #2 pencil lead size.
   F- Same with kindling – more is better – dry is better.  Think #2 pencil size.
   G- Fuelwood – everything larger.

G- What do you do if a vampire shows up at your house?
H- Give him some candy and hope it is Halloween.

NASA – Skylab

4- Honeywell Corp. got a contract from NASA to create a device that would detect smoke and toxic gases in Skylab.  Skylab was America’s first space station. The result was the first ionization smoke detector, using a minute amount of the radioactive isotope Americium-241.  It is estimated that smoke detectors have saved more lives and property than the entire NASA budget starting from 01 October 1958 when NASA was created!  Dwight David Eisenhower was president at that time.

I- What do you call a sleeping male cow?
J- A Bull-Dozer.

5- When the Spanish first discovered Florida, they built their fort walls about 14′ tall and kept fires burning all the time – even in the heat of the summer.  Mosquitoes!  The mosquitoes could not fly over the tall walls and the smoke from the fires also kept them at bay.

6- Ham Radio:
What is a relay?  
An electrically-controlled switch

Which of the following displays an electrical quantity as a numeric value?

What is the name of a device that combines several semiconductors and other components into one package?
         Integrated circuit
What type of circuit controls the amount of voltage from a power supply?
Which of the following is a common reason to use shielded wire?
          To prevent coupling of unwanted signals to or from the wire

Essentially speaking,

(Thanks to KB6NU Ham Radio Study Guides)

Dare to Soar by Thomas Mercaldo

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.