No Firefighters, No Power and You Have a Fire


No Firefighters, No Power and You Have a Fire


I have been thinking about how we would handle a fire if there were no firefighters and no power. This is really a scary scenario that doesn’t get much press even in the world of self-reliance and the preparedness communities. I have done some research to help me sleep better at night and I hope it will help you too. Now is the time to figure out how to protect our families in an emergency situation of this magnitude.

No Firefighter, No Power and You Have a Fire

I believe most Americans feel they would just call 911 and they would find a quick rescue crew at their doorstep. In a perfect world this would be the case. Our firefighters do an awesome job and know how to deal with all kinds of fires and related emergencies. My concern is about the state of our country and the possibility of situations that could affect our safety where massive emergency situations might break out. If enough situations were happening at the same time, our highly trained professionals could not respond to every emergency. Not only could they not respond to everyone, there is also the possibility we might be without power, a double whammy.

Different parts of our country will have their own unique fire hazards. Most fires (4 out of 5) are reportedly started by individuals with the remaining fires being started mainly by lightening. What a comforting thought for those of us in the “lightening capital of the U.S.” known as Florida. I live in the most highly populated county in the state. I can tell you the lightning storms are really powerful. I have seen two power company transformers get hit by lightning right on my street and it scares the dickens out of me. Our poor dogs are mortified of the storms.

A transformer blowing up could start a fire. There is a great article about transformers blowing up by scott.net that is very interesting.  If a transformer blows up, there goes your power. If this happens during a disaster and a fire starts, you would be in trouble. If there was an EMP attack we would most likely see fires, power grid failures and possibly firetrucks that would not operate. There are so many situations both natural and man-made that could cause complete havoc in our ability to expect professional firefighters to come to our aid. It is time to see what we, as individuals, can do.

How Pioneers Fought Fires

I started my research by looking back at how the pioneers handled firefighting situations. They had a few different methods, some of which are still used today.

Fight Fire With Fire

You may have heard, “fight fire with fire”. It is one method the pioneers used and is still part of the firefighting techniques used to combat wildfires. It’s called a backfire, setting a counter or a fire guard. It’s a fire set to consume the fuel from an approaching wildfire and to change its direction. If this is not done correctly it can intensify the problem.

Fire Lines

Another tactic is to cut fire lines. According to Fire and Aviation Management (NPS.gov),  “A fire line is a break in fuel, made by cutting, scraping or digging. It can be done by mechanized equipment, such as bulldozers, but in most parks, it is done using hand tools. This is usually six inches deep and three feet wide.” The pioneers would use this technique to fight prairie fires. They would use a shovel, rake or any tool they could find to dig a trench to stop the wall of fire coming at them.

Wet Sacks

Wet sacks and blankets were common ways to help extinguish fires. The pioneers would take burlap, wet it and put the wet cloth over brooms to beat a fire down. If this was done outside, there could not be any wind or it would just increase the fire.

Bucket Brigade

The bucket brigade was another method to help smother a fire. It was done in a relay style from the well or whatever water source was available. In today’s world, if you have a pool you could use the water from it for firefighting.

The methods above could be valuable if a fire breaks out and you are on your own. In addition to those techniques there are a few more that may prove to be advantageous.

  • Fire Extinguishers – at least five distributed throughout the home and out buildings
  • Baking Soda – it smothers flames from your typical kitchen grease fires
  • Pot Cover – If a fire flashes in a pan, cover it with the lid to cut off the oxygen and put out the flames.
  • Chimfex Fire Suppressant – a chimney fire extinguisher
  • Foam-Fast Wildfire Pre-Treatment Kit – This is a Class A foam applicator kit for pre-treatment. It is 100% biodegradable foam, has a guaranteed shelf life of 5 years and may last much longer if stored properly. Each cartridge (the kit comes with three cartridges) last 30 minutes to an hour. This would be great in wildfire situations or for houses in close proximity to one another when a fire breaks out and you want to do everything possible to save your home.
  • Home Firefighting Pool Fire Pump Cart System – This is a complete system on wheels that you can move around for better coverage in larger areas. It is like a mini firefighter station. It has a high pressure Davey pump, twin-impeller system. For serious preparedness and peace of mind, this is something to consider.

What Fire Extinguisher is Right?

  • Class A Fire (leaves ash behind) – The Class A fire extinguisher is for ordinary combustibles such as wood, paper, fabric and trash.
  • Class B Fire (a boiling fire) – The Class B fire extinguisher is for flammable liquids such as oil, gasoline and similar fuels. This extinguisher depletes the oxygen by smothering it.
  • Class C Fire (current from electric) – The Class C fire extinguisher is for fire caused by electrical equipment. To put out this type of fire, a non-conductive extinguishing agent like carbon dioxide is needed.
  • Class D Fire (dense metals) – The Class D fire extinguisher is for metals like magnesium and titanium. It requires a dry powder extinguisher – never water.
  • Class K Fire (kitchen fires in commercial facilities) – The Class K fire extinguisher is for cooking fires such as grease, oil and fat. Purple K is the common agent in kitchen extinguishers.

Now that you know what fire extinguishers work for the different kinds of fires you will want to start purchasing several to store throughout your property. You can get an ABC Fire Extinguisher which is suitable for fires involving ordinary combustibles, flammable liquids and electrical fires. This is the typical fire extinguisher you should have on hand.

Fire Prevention

  • Know where your electrical box is and how to turn off the main breaker
  • Know where your gas/propane shut off is and how to turn it off
  • Locate all available water sources to fight fire
  • Keep flammable fuels away from your home and properly stored in appropriate containers
  • Learn how to properly use a fire extinguisher
  • Keep firewood away from home (it will act like kindling in a fire situation)
  • Have battery operated smoke alarms (detectors) located in your home
  • Check your batteries in your smoke alarms at least twice a year and keep spare batteries on hand
  • Clear brush and debris away from your home
  • Have your chimneys cleaned by a chimney sweep
  • Have fire escape ladders in homes with more than one story
  • If you have solar panels, keep leaves and debris away from panels
  • Keep shovels and rakes nearby in case you need to put out ground fires
  • Make sure your chimney, stovepipes and burn barrel have coverings to trap embers
  • You might want to check out a McLeod tool. Here is what Wikipedia says about this tool. “The McLeod rake is a two-sided blade on a long, wooden-handle. It is a standard yet esoteric tool used during wildfire suppression and trail restoration. The combination tool was created in 1905 by Malcolm McLeod, a US Forest Service ranger at the Sierra National Forest, with a large hoe-like blade on one side and a tined blade on the other.”
  • Check with your local fire department or community college to see if they offer any fire prevention/fighting classes.
  • Teach all family members where everything on this list is located and how it is used
  • Have an escape plan in place that everyone knows
  • Think fire drill. They do these in schools and companies not to take a break but to practice what to do in an emergency. Assign each member of the family a task they will be responsible for. Practice at unknown times to see how fast and how accurately everyone can do their part. Practice drills are very important and should not be skipped. The more familiar everyone is, the faster an emergency can be handled.

If you find yourself in a burning building

  • Feel the door to make sure it is not hot, open slowly and carefully proceed to escape
  • If your clothing catches on fire, STOP, DROP and ROLL
  • Stay as low to the ground as possible – smoke rises
  • Cover your nose with a cloth (even your shirt) to help filter the smoke

By practicing the steps above, your family stands a greater possibility of surviving a fire even if there are no firefighters available to help you. The key is to be prepared and practice. If a fire is out of control, your FIRST PRIORITY is the safety of you and your family. As tragic as as a fire may be, there is NOTHING more important than keeping your family safe and out of harms way.

No firefighters No Power

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17 Responses so far.

  1. This is something I have given thought to. I live in a community with 2 fire stations relatively close by, but our driveway is a 10th of a mile long. I’m not sure where they’d hook up their hoses to fight a fire. We also have fire extinguishers on each floor just in case. We had a close call one time with an electrical cord that we hadn’t noticed had exposed wires (thanks to Charlie Rabbit). Luckily we were home and my daughter was in the room when it started. We were able to put it out without the fire extinguisher, but we bought a 2nd after that to make sure it was there if we needed it.

  2. Wow, it is lucky you were at home when Charlie Rabbit did his thing. Fire really is a scary thing. We are prepared to an extent but we will be doing more. Thanks for your comment. Glad to hear you have fire extinguishers.

  3. This is very good information. I think many of us have not thought about this as a possibility. We just assume the firemen will take care of it. Thanks for pointing out this very possible scenario.

  4. This is such a great resource with useful information for fighting a fire. Much appreciated!

  5. Agatha says:

    These are great tips; I had no idea about the different types of techniques to put out the fire, especially the stop, drop and roll. I think most people feel it’s about dousing the person with water, but then how long will that take and by standing up the flames go up too. Thanks for sharing.

  6. jenbrenan says:

    This is great information for something we don’t give much thought to. I really need to evaluate my fire plan for our house and family.

    • I agree, no one likes to think about fire. It is really scary. Having a plan helps take the scary down a notch. It is kind of like childbirth. You know it is going to be rough but with knowledge you can do anything.

  7. Samantha says:

    A house fire is my #1 fear. Thank you so much for doing the research and putting this post together! I’ve learned a ton that I didn’t know before! 🙂

  8. justleesha says:

    I worry about that sorta of stuff! I have ideas in my head about just how we would escape!

  9. jessica says:

    Wow, this was so informative! I live in a rental and last week we almost had an electrical fire. Our dryer outlet went out and when our landlady told us to flip the switch, if sparked and popped and left burn marks on the wall. Great info!

    • Jessica,
      Scary! Glad everything worked out okay. Having fire extinguishers around the house gives me peace of mind. I know I can reach for immediate assistance if need be. Hopefully the landlady was able to get the problem corrected so you can sleep at night.

  10. This post has a lot of ideas I haven’t really thought a lot about. The local fire department is at the end of my block, so I feel fairly secure. My fire extinguisher is expired though, so I need to get that taken care of!

    • Living close to a fire department does give a sense of security. If they were unavailable because of massive events, having an alternate plan is good. The ability to stop a small fire from spreading quickly can really save the day. Thanks so much for sharing. We tend to get a fire extinguisher and forget about it or even where it is. Looking at a fire extinguisher isn’t as pretty as a plant or art object. I had one hidden in a closet for years. I finally realized it didn’t belong there and it was way past its prime.

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