Fire machine floors instructors on Exercise Kowari
The day after being taught to make fire using traditional ‘drill’ and ‘bow’ methods, Lieutenant Chen Shang unveiled his fire machine, which used twisted string to transfer energy from gentle downwards force to the rotational spin of a drill.
“I learned the method from a book and back in China I built a functional fire machine out of bamboo,” Lieutenant Chen said.
“Unfortunately, the wood I used here was no good, and I was unable to generate an ember.”
Survival instructor Corporal Martin Edwards of the North West Mobile Force (Norforce) was impressed with Lieutenant Chen’s effort.
“I have no doubt the machine would have created fire if the correct timbers were used, Corporal Edwards said.
“These days, knocking out something fancy like that can also be used to relieve a bit of boredom in a survival situation.”
“These types of devices were used in our culture about 10,000 years ago,” Lieutenant Chen said.
“As well as making fire, they were used to drill holes to make rings or bracelets.
“I called it my ‘fire/compass stick’ because on the crossbar I had drawn a compass rose.
Lieutenant Chen donated his fire machine to Norforce when he set off on the survival phase of Exercise Kowari.
The Regional Force Surveillance Unit, which contains the Australian Army’s experts in survival training, have put the ‘fire/compass stick’ on display at its tactical headquarters for visitors to the activity.