person standing in front of fire

Fire Survival Techniques

Fire Survival Techniques

Fire, one of humanity’s earliest discoveries, is a force that can be both beneficial and devastating. In this article, we delve into the realm of fire survival tactics. We’ll explore the various types of fires you might encounter, from wildfires to house fires, and even chemical fires. More importantly, we’ll arm you with vetted survival strategies for each scenario.

Understanding Different Fire Types

Before we delve into survival strategies, it’s crucial to understand the different types of fires you might face. Each fire behaves differently, and thus, requires different approaches for survival.


Wildfires, also known as forest fires, can rapidly spread across large areas, driven by wind and feeding on dry vegetation. They pose a significant threat to people and property in rural and suburban areas, especially during periods of drought.

The key to surviving a wildfire is early detection and evacuation. Always stay informed about the fire’s progress and heed evacuation orders. If trapped, look for bodies of water or cleared areas with little vegetation.

House Fires

House fires are among the most common types of fires we might encounter in our lives. Causes range from cooking accidents, electrical faults to unattended candles. Smoke inhalation, rather than the fire itself, is often the most lethal aspect of these fires.

The best survival tactic for house fires is prevention. Install smoke detectors, and maintain them regularly. However, if a fire does occur, have an escape plan ready. Stay low to avoid smoke and always feel doors for heat before opening.

Chemical Fires

Chemical fires result from the ignition of hazardous materials. These fires are particularly dangerous as they can produce toxic smoke and are difficult to extinguish.

In a chemical fire, evacuation is the priority. Avoid inhaling fumes and alert the fire department immediately, informing them of the chemical fire. They will utilize appropriate fire suppression tactics.

Electrical Fires

Electrical fires occur due to faults in wiring, overloaded circuits, or faulty electrical devices. They can be challenging to extinguish with water due to the risk of electrocution.

Electrical fire safety begins with regular inspection of your home’s electrical system. If an electrical fire starts, use a Class C fire extinguisher and switch off the power, if possible.

Grease Fires

Grease fires typically occur in the kitchen when cooking oil becomes too hot. This type of fire can grow rapidly and is particularly dangerous because it cannot be extinguished with water. In fact, applying water to a grease fire can cause the fire to spread.

For small grease fires, the best course of action is to smother the fire with a metal lid or baking soda. Never use water or flour. For larger fires, use a Class B fire extinguisher and evacuate the premises, calling 911 once you’re safe.

Fire Survival Tactics

Now that we’ve identified the different types of fires, let’s dive into the fire survival tactics that can save lives in each scenario.

Wildfire Survival Tactics

Wildfires can spread quickly, leaving little time for evacuation. Preparation is your best defense. Have an emergency kit and evacuation plan ready. This guide provides comprehensive advice on preparing for a wildfire.

If you’re unable to evacuate, find a body of water or an area clear of vegetation. Lie low to the ground where the air is cooler and contains less smoke.

House Fire Survival Tactics

For house fires, the best survival tactic is preparation. Ensure you have working smoke detectors and a fire extinguisher in your home. Plan and practice a fire escape plan with your family.

This guide from the American Red Cross provides excellent advice on what to do if a fire starts in your home. Remember, if you’re trapped, stay low and cover vents to prevent smoke from entering your room. Signal for help from a window if you can.

Chemical Fire Survival Tactics

With chemical fires, your priority should be evacuation. Protect yourself from toxic fumes and alert the fire department immediately.

This guide from the CDC provides information on how to handle chemical emergencies. Remember, proper storage and handling of chemicals can prevent these fires from occurring.

Electrical Fire Survival Tactics

For electrical fires, safety begins with prevention. Regularly check your home’s wiring and electrical devices for potential hazards.

In the event of an electrical fire, use a Class C fire extinguisher if you have one. If it’s safe to do so, turn off the power to stop the fire from getting worse. Otherwise, evacuate immediately and call the fire department.

Grease Fire Survival Tactics

Grease fires are a common hazard in the kitchen. Prevent them by never leaving cooking unattended and keeping your cooking surfaces clean.

If a grease fire occurs, turn off the heat source if it’s safe to do so. Then, smother the fire with a metal lid or use baking soda. Never use water or flour on a grease fire. A Class B fire extinguisher can also be used. If the fire gets out of control, evacuate and call 911.

General Fire Survival Tactics

In addition to the specific tactics for different types of fires, there are some general fire survival strategies that apply to all situations.

Always have an evacuation plan. Regularly check and maintain fire prevention tools like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Stay low to the ground to avoid smoke inhalation during a fire. Close doors behind you as you evacuate to slow the spread of the fire. Most importantly, once you’re out of a burning building, never go back inside for any reason.

Here is a comprehensive list of fire survival strategies from the U.S. Fire Administration.

Fire Safety Equipment

In the realm of fire survival tactics, the right equipment can make a world of difference. Investing in some key pieces of fire safety equipment can enhance your preparedness.

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are your first line of defense. They can alert you to a fire before it gets out of control, giving you precious time to evacuate. Ensure they are installed correctly and tested regularly. The NFPA provides valuable information on smoke detectors.

Fire Extinguishers

A home fire extinguisher can suppress a small fire before it spreads. Ensure you have the correct type of extinguisher for your home and know how to use it. The U.S. Fire Administration has guidelines on choosing and using fire extinguishers.

Fire Escape Ladders

If you live in a multi-story building, a fire escape ladder could be a lifesaver. Keep one in an easily accessible location in case you need to escape from an upper floor. This guide from the Red Cross details how to plan for such a scenario.

Fire-Resistant Clothing

If you live in an area prone to wildfires, consider investing in fire-resistant clothing. While not a substitute for evacuation, these clothes can provide some protection if you’re caught in a fire. This resource from the U.S. Forest Service provides more information.

Fire Safety Education

No amount of equipment can substitute for proper fire safety education. Understanding how fires start, spread, and how to respond is crucial for fire survival tactics.

Fire Prevention

Preventing a fire is the most effective survival tactic. Regularly check your home for fire hazards such as faulty wiring, unattended candles, and flammable materials near heat sources. This resource from the U.S. Fire Administration offers excellent advice on fire prevention.

Fire Safety Training

Consider enrolling in a fire safety training course. These courses can teach you invaluable skills, like using a fire extinguisher correctly, performing basic first aid, and executing a fire escape plan. The American Red Cross provides a variety of fire safety classes for both adults and children.

Plan and Practice

A well-rehearsed plan can save lives during a fire. Create a fire escape plan for your home and practice it regularly with all household members. Make sure everyone knows how to call 911, stop, drop, and roll, and where to meet once outside. NFPA has a comprehensive guide on creating and practicing a fire escape plan.


Fire survival tactics extend beyond the immediate response to a fire. From understanding the different types of fires to investing in fire safety equipment and education, each step plays a crucial role in enhancing your preparedness. Fire is unpredictable, but with the right knowledge and tools, you can increase your chances of surviving and minimizing damage. Remember, when it comes to fire, prevention is always the best strategy. I hope you’ve found this guide informative and empowering. Stay safe, and remember that knowledge is the most potent weapon in any survival situation.