The backyard burn barrel can be a firefighter’s small scale research lab for fire behavior. Vertical and horizontal spread and smoke development can all be “studied” in an admittedly limited but still beneficial way while completing a line on the honey-do list. Try to extrapolate in your mind how these materials, put in a room, would similarly react to this small ignition source. Notice how the physical configuration; vertical or horizontal, affects the speed of development. The differences observed from ordinary combustibles when the occasional piece of plastic sneaks into the barrel by “accident” is telling as well.
An unusual method? Maybe, but don’t waste a single opportunity to learn from a fire. The routine job of disposing of papers and boxes can be your own mini training session on fire behavior.