Fort Harrison

GREAT FALLS- Living in Montana, it’s safe to say  most people probably know how to build a fire.

However, troops at Fort Harrison are going back to the basics when it comes to fire building skills as a part of their pre-deployment training.

“Say you get lost up in the hills or what not, the first thing you’re probably going to do is freak out; but the first thing you should probably do is sit down and build a fire,” says CW3 Mary Jo Kraft, a Chinook helicopter pilot with the U.S Army National Guard.

When it comes to just about any survival situation, building a fire is one of the smartest things you can do.

However, when it comes to the Air and Army National Guard, building a fire is a little more complicated.

“The first thing we're trying to lean is how to, “E&E,” basically escape and evade. But we need to get ourselves in a position where we can get extracted to safet,” explains Kraft.

Not only is the placement of your fire important, but the timing is as well.

“What you want to do, with any type of signaling, is separate things out by three, you're kind of building out that S.O.S code; and you want to be evenly spaced out. You pull it out to early, you can give yourself away to somebody you don't want to give yourself away to,” further explains Kraft.

In addition to fire placement and timing, the way you build your fire can also make a difference.

“You got your cookers, you got your smokers where you can dig a little hole in the ground and you can set up, kind of like what you have here,” explains Kraft.

While other fires are designed to simply create a lot of smoke.

“If I wanted to seriously get an aircraft in right now, I see them up flying around, I’m talking to them and I’m about ready to get a signal going; again, I want to build these tepees. I can build a big, huge smoker out of those basically,” says Kraft.

For the Air and Army National Guard, fire building is one of the most important skills to have and can easily mean the difference between life and death.

From here, the troops will be continuing their pre-deployment training for the next several months, covering a wide variety of other life saving skills.

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