Fire Rakes The Most Useful Outdoor Tool You Don't Own

Fire Rakes---The Most Useful Outdoor Tool You Don't Own

Posted by Jim Mize on September 17, 2020

A fire rake is designed to be used as a forest fire fighting tool, but it does so much more! And is invaluable for maintaining nearly any type of acreage.

The first time I handled a fire rake was in a training class for fighting forest fires.

Our forestry school kept a list of volunteers for the forest service to call upon during fire season. The one-day of training was a prerequisite for both skill development and safety practices.

Not long after that class, I got the call for my first fire. Our crew was to create a fire line along the state border to prevent a fire from entering national forest land. Conditions were good for containment of the fire as night moisture levels rose and wind speeds declined. Our crew had a lead with a Pulaski, another handy tool that looks like it was made from combining an ax with a mattock. The next five crew members on the line all carried fire rakes (you can see the first firefighter carrying a fire rake below).

fire rake in action

While the Pulaski was used to cut larger saplings and brush, the fire rakes cleared leaf litter, roots and other fuel from the oncoming fire. Each crew member took a few swipes and moved on. When working efficiently, the last person on the line with a fire rake was scraping bare soil.

Why every farmer, homesteader & land owner needs a fire rake

The fire rake is an effective outdoor tool because it is sturdy, can cut roots and small brush, and also rake more than leaves. The teeth are triangular and sharpened. Wikipedia compares the teeth to those of a great white shark. To me, they resemble the teeth on older cutting blades used with tractors.

The metal part of the rake is twelve inches wide with four teeth. The handle is usually about five feet long and can be wood or synthetic material.

fire rake

The fire rake is said to have originated from joint development by the Council Tool Company and forestry personnel back in the 1920’s. Certainly, the longevity of this tool design attests to its effectiveness as not much on it has changed over the years.

When I moved into my cabin on the side of a steep ridge, it appeared that the greatest danger was likely from fire.

Several fires had burned close by over the years and with the layout of my property I could envision where a fire line would go if needed, so my first investment in tools was for a fire rake.

Not wanting to let My Fire Rake sit idle, I’ve since used it for several projects around the property

uses for a fire rake

For instance, when I moved in, some steps made from railroad ties were close to collapsing. The steps were steep and the wood had begun to rot. Also, water from the roof was eroding the area around the foundation, so I wanted to replace these steps with a better walking surface that both reduced the erosion and channeled water away from the cabin.

The fire rake was useful first in pulling out the railroad ties that had been in place for years. Much like rolling logs off the fire line, the task was a good fit for a fire rake since it was sturdy enough to pull these ties out of the ground. Then I used the rake to smooth out the dirt to eliminate the steps and create a slope that was easier to walk. After putting in larger rocks to direct the water flow and hold smaller stones in place, I used the fire rake to distribute river stones evenly across the slope.

how to use a fire rake

I’ve used the fire rake since to clear brush and leaf litter from around the foundation, to contour ditches to direct runoff from the roof away from the house, and to level soil for other stone work.

Looking back, all these jobs resemble tasks on a fire line, namely, pulling, chopping and scraping.

If you want to add one more useful landscaping tool to your collection, a fire rake is a versatile choice. And should you ever need to build a fire line around your property, you will be well-equipped.

Jim Mize

Jim Mize has written humor and nostalgia for magazines including Gray's Sporting Journal, Fly Fisherman Magazine, Field & Stream, and a number of conservation magazines, picking up over fifty Excellence In Craft awards along the way. His most recent book, a collection of humor for fly fisherman entitled A Creek Trickles Through It, was awarded best outdoor book in 2014 by the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association. More on Jim and his writing activities can be found at

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