The ability to start a controlled fire is recognized in the sources as to significantly increase the ability to survive. The skills required to light a fire without a lighter or matches, such as by using natural flint and steel with tinder, is a frequent subject of both books on survival and in survival courses. There is an emphasis placed on practicing fire-making skills before venturing into the wilderness.

Fire is presented as a tool meeting many survival needs. The heat provided by a fire allows the body to be warmed, wet clothes to be dried, water to be disinfected, and food to be cooked. Not to be overlooked is the psychological boost and the sense of safety and protection it gives. Fire may deter wild animals from interfering with the survivor, or wild animals may be attracted to the light and heat of a fire. The light and smoke emitted by a fire can also be used to work at night and can signal rescue units.