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Fire Policy

Why do we use fire at Forest School?

Fire is one of the four elements - earth, air, fire and water. To connect children and adults with the natural world we bring each of these elements into our Forest School sessions. Earth, air and water are easy to find and experience as they are all around us at Forest School, however, fires take more effort to introduce and to introduce safely.


Fire poses risks. It may burn directly or indirectly through heating items, it's smoke may sting the eyes and irritate the lungs, it may set alight and burn in unintended ways. Fire is an opportunity therefore to explore experientially the ideas around risk, safety and respect. 

Fire is mesmerising, some people simply like to sit and watch the flames of the fire dance. Others love to feed the fire and see what happens. Fire connects us with our biological ancestors who relied on fire for survival. Fire is widely used in cultures and celebrations where it is highly symbolic, bringing light to darkness, purifying the earth, and representing a physical and spiritual challenge. In many countries fire is still the most common cooking and heating method. 


In our tropical country our fire is not needed to give warmth, instead, we use it to learn about risk, safety and respect, we use it to cook and share food and to bring our community together during these special Forest School sessions. We use it to develop new skills and knowledge, such as the properties of fuel types and how to lay and light a fire. 

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How do we use fire at Forest School? 
  • We use long safety matches to light candles for cultural experiences

  • We use fire strikers to light tinder on its own for practice using fire strikers and to explore the properties of different types of tinder

  • We use fire strikers to light small practice fires of different fire lays, fire nests and our main cooking fires

  • We hire BBQ pits at Labrador Nature Park and East Coast Park to use traditional fire lighting techniques to light fires to heat coals on which to cook

  • We go on excursions to the campsites on Pulau Ubin to hold fire sessions around a more traditional style community fire pit

  • We use a small portable, safe, camping stove to provide a heat source for our experiences in places where fires are not legal but the ability to heat adds value 

We never use open fires except on Pulau Ubin where it is legal to do so and these fires are contained in a fire pit. 

When do we use fire at Forest School? 
  • Every group attending adult accompanied Forest School will have one fire lighting and outdoor cooking session per term of 8 weeks or more. This session will be scheduled at the same time and on the same day of the week as regular sessions. 

  • Fire lighting and outdoor cooking sessions will normally take place in the penultimate week of term, however, any sessions on Pulau Ubin will be scheduled to avoid local school holidays to avoid the campsite, which can not be booked in advance, from being too busy for us to secure a fire pit. 

  • For our drop-off sessions we will hold an optional weekend social event for families to attend a special fire lighting and outdoor cooking session with their children who will then have the opportunity to share their Forest School experience with their parents. 

  • We will conduct small fire-lighting activities as part of cultural celebrations in time with these celebrations and when safe to do so and appropriate the to location that we are in. 

Safety Procedure
  • For all adult accompanied fire sessions (excluding matches, candles and use of the portable stove) we will have an extra Wildlings staff member present to act as an additional safety officer.

  • For drop-off sessions we will have two Wildlings staff members and at least one extra parent volunteer for the session. 

  • All fire sessions will have at least one Level 3 trained Forest School practitioner present.

  • The leader will complete a risk assessment, or update an existing assessment, before a fire session. 

  • The leader will ensure that the fire area is safe. This may include excavating debris from the fire pit and checking for glass in the surrounding area. 

  • The leader will provide a water bucket, first aid kit including extra items to attend to burns, and fire gauntlets.

  • The leader will place entry and exit signage and a 'heat' warning sign around the fire area.

  • The leader will conduct a fire safety briefing before fires of any kind are lit. The briefing will include:

    • The fire triangle​

    • Respect position

    • Location of the first aid kit

    • Location of the water bucket

    • Entry and exit around the fire pit

    • How to move around the fire - one direction, no running, no entering the fire pit stone circle, no standing on the fire pit stones, no fighting or aggressive behaviour of any kind around the fire

    • Moving around the fire pit area practice

    • Purpose of the safety whistle

    • A reminder of the consequences of failing to adhere to the safety rules

    • A clothing and loose hair check

  • The fire will be only as big as it needs to be and burn for only as long as it needs to ​to perform its useful function. 

  • At the end of the fire element of the session we will extinguish our fire using cold water, We will do this gradually, stirring air and water into the ashes to remove the heat and to make the fire safe for the remainder of our session and for those who may use the fire pit after us. 

  • No fireworks or sparklers or fire crackers of any kind will be used during our sessions as these are considered to be too high risk. 

  • Everyone around the fire must be appropriately dressed in closed shoes, non-flammable clothing and have loose hair tied back. 

  • Non-fire related gear will be stored in camp away from the fire to avoid fire spreading and unnecessary smoke inhalation. 

  • Marshmallow or other roasting sticks must be able to reach from the kneeling child in the respect position to the fire without over-stretching. 

  • There will be a designated area for hot cooking items, both food and equipment, with suitable signage. 

WhatsApp Image 2019-05-28 at 6.16.43 PM.

DATE: 14th September 2019

AUTHOR: Claire Seabrook


REVIEW: 14th September 2020

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