When the SHTF, what will you do when you cannot call the fire department? Thwarting a roaring blaze from swallowing up you home and carefully stored preps is one of the least discussed preparedness plans we should be making. During a recent Off The Grid News radio show, Brian Brawdy and I talked about the very real fire dangers should a solar flare or EMP attack take down the power grid.
While serving as a rural newspaper editor, I went to a multitude of fire scenes. Transformer fires are not uncommon during seasonal storms and pose a grave threat to both property and human life. A solar flare or EMP attack would most likely result in not only the destruction of transformers along the power grid, but cause fires to the electric poles—which would then quickly spread. Vehicles manufactured after the early 1950s have electrical systems which would also be destroyed by an electromagnetic pulse. Not only would citizen vehicles refuses to start, fire trucks would no longer be able to roll to the rescue.
Off-grid and homesteading families, as well as rural preppers, almost certainly have a “bug in” plan for a SHTF scenario. The safety aspects of living in a non-urban environment could rapidly erode if fire preps are not worked into the overall survival plan. A cabin in the woods with an adjacent barn filled with livestock and a garage filled with #10 cans of food would be reduced to ashes in less than an hour if necessary fire suppression steps are not taken both in advance and when the flames first appear.
Fires can double in size approximately once every 30 seconds to a minute. According to my rural firefighter husband, brush fires can be the most deadly. Dry brush and trees will be caught ablaze quickly and shifts in the wind can take you from a point of safety into a death, even though you have not taken a single step.
There are three categories of flammable materials—Class A, B, and C. Class A flammables are common combustibles such as wood, paper, and plastic. Class B items include grease and flammable liquids. Class C blazes are basically electrical fires which often stem from either Class A or B flammables. Understanding what types of fire you are most likely to be faced with is extremely important from a preparedness planning aspect.
Fire Prevention Preps
Fire Detectors: Purchase multiple detectors and replacement batteries and place them inside a Faraday cage.
Fire Extinguishers: Multiple ABC fire extinguishers are recommended. The typical residential grade extinguisher has only about 15-20 seconds of suppression agent inside. If financially feasible, invest in BC and CO2 fire extinguishers as well.
SCBA Gear: More people die from smoke inhalation than from actually being burned from a fire. Although such equipment is expensive and an oxygen refill will not likely be possible in a doomsday scenario, a mask and an air tank might give you and your family the time necessary to escape from a building or wild fire.
Indian Pack: These portable water pouches with a hose are also not cheap to purchase, but will allow you to put out fires in a wooded area near your home before it reaches loved ones or the shelter and preps you need to survive.
Baking Soda: The soda smothers the flames from a grease fire before it can spread.
Chimfex: The commercial chimney fire extinguisher and an ABC extinguisher can help save your bug-in dwelling should a fire start inside the home heat and cooking source.
Bunker Gear: These are the suits firefighters wear to battle blazes. Different suits are used when fighting brush or wildland fires and typical building fires. These are also expensive, but used ones can often be found on eBay, or perhaps from local fire departments which are upgrading their gear.
Fire Preparedness Building Tips
Log cabins or small wood homes are commonplace for rural preppers. Choose instead to build a simple concrete block house and opt for a metal pole barn and storage sheds instead of traditional wood structures. Do not forget to place fire detectors inside outbuildings.
Fire Preparedness Education
You do not have to plan on becoming either a professional or volunteer firefighter in order to sign up for the basic 40-hour class. Ask local firefighters about training sessions and community college courses so you can learn how to use firefighting hand tools and how to dig fire breaks, and other life-saving tips now, before the power grid goes down and a popping and cracking transformers destroys your barn, livestock, garden, and home.