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Article Specs

VxAcct: 99809

Article ID: 2787

Section: festtips

Age Group: Adult

Posted: May 8th. 2000

Views: 13251

Fire Safety

by Patricia Telesco

When people are enjoying themselves at festivals sometimes little things get neglected. One thing in particular is fire safety. Indoor events, while lacking in a ritual fire, still contain candles (usually) and most buildings have very strict rules to which everyone attending should be conscientious in following. For example, some hotels do not allow "open flame" this means a candle that does not have it's own enclosure like a lampshade or minimally a self-contained candle (one poured into and covered by a glass container).

Outdoor events have even more exposure in that wind can influence the way fire spreads, and if it's been a particularly dry season the threat is doubled. Think for a moment of a camping event with hundreds of flammable items and all the torches, cooking fires, and candles that surround. It is vital for your safety and that of others that sound precautions are taken. Here are some good ideas to get you started:

Cooking Fires:
  • If possible, bring a fire extinguisher with you and steak it somewhere within reach of the fire
  • Have a pile of loose dirt, sand, or a bucket of water near the fire to use to put out a fire that gets out of hand
  • Dig your fire pit deep and surround it with stone or a moat of water.
  • Do not exceed a fire pit's diameter with wood and don't over-pile it.
  • Avoid using heavy amounts of starter fluid and other chemicals to start the fire.
  • Rather than building a fire pit bring a hibachi or gas stove, which is designed for cooking.
  • Do not store propane or any other volatile substance in hot areas or where they can easily be knocked over.
  • Combine your cooking efforts with those of other campers to decrease the number of fires going at the same time.
  • Put out coals carefully when you're done (bear in mind that just sand and dirt may not do the trick if the fire was particularly hot).
  • Have someone tending an open fire at all times (this person should be considered "on duty" meaning no drinking!).
  • Train people in your camp about basic fire safety and what to do in case of emergency.

Candles:
  • Keep candles away from hair, robes, and other flammable items.
  • Do NOT bring any candles into your tent. Use a flashlight.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended (if you absolutely must, put it in a deep, large container where it cannot easily be knocked over and start a fire)
  • Cup the flame of a candle with your hand when blowing it out. You won't have to blow as hard, and this in turn keeps wax and sparks from splattering.
  • Keep candles away from drafts, with well trimmed wicks not to exceed 1/4" before burning)
  • Try not to let candles burn past 2" above the rim of their holders
  • Use self contained candles whenever possible, or those that are placed in specially designed candle lanterns.

Ritual Fires:
  • Do not dance too close to the ritual fire, especially when wearing robes or flowing clothing.
  • Do not get it into your head to try fire walking. This is not the way to win friends or influence people. Quite to the contrary many festival coordinators will happily escort you off site for such a breach of etiquette.
  • Do not over-build a ritual fire and avoid making it with chemical starters (this has negative magickal effects).
  • Have a fire extinguisher or plenty of water on hand.
  • Have sober fire tenders whose only job is to make sure the fire continues burning at a safe level.
  • If you are not in charge of tending the fire, don't play with it (this means don't add wood, don't add herbs, just DON'T). If you desperately want to do something special, ask first.
  • Have people tenders who make sure that the gathering attendants remain safe in their dancing and meditative practices near the fire. Point these individuals out at ever fire so folks know who has authority.

In all of these situations, if you see someone doing something that has potential hazards SAY SO! If you don't feel comfortable saying something yourself, get security or another representative of the event to handle things. While this may all seem terribly mundane, a good event is one where people feel safe. As a community we do have some responsibility for one another. So, be responsible in the way you honor the fire element, not just in spells and rituals, but in every aspect of a gathering.

Trish Telesco

The Witches' Voice
May 8th., 2000




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Patricia Telesco


Location: Amherst, New York

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