THE SIREN

10/14/2019

A community’s most prestigious symbol, besides city hall, would be its fleet of highly polished firefighting equipment. Brightly colored and loaded with chrome, these specialized trucks were first designed to be effective in putting out fires in towns with closely spaced wooden structures. Today with modern building codes, flame retardant materials, and a city-wide water distribution system, fires are rare. These behemoths have become an expensive decoration to be viewed in parades maybe 4 times a year. Their presence on the streets in a functional mode is rare and mainly limited to overcooked pizzas and old people who have fallen down. A community that sports multiple fire stations will send out pumpers, ladder trucks and ambulances for a simple 9-11 call. The fire captain is under orders to produce the whole fleet on a sprained ankle call just in case it turns into a full-fledged terrorist disaster. Lawsuits override common sense. The equipment and hourly manpower sent out for such calls will surpass $3,000 per hour, but practice makes perfect for those isolated incidents when a fire does occur. Then, the men and machinery shine in their courageous performance to save lives and fight to extinguish the dancing devil. The equipment chosen is dictated by the tax base, political egos and insurance stipulations.  Rich communities will order brand new trucks, custom painted to match their firehouses and are chock-full of bells and sirens. Poorer communities will get smaller, refurbished, used equipment that will still put out fires for a lot less money. The blighted urban district will be much busier putting out fires set by people trapped in their surroundings and venting their frustrations like smoke signals. The affluent suburbs will need their equipment twice a year when some rich guy goes through a divorce or a failed business and needs an insurance claim to guarantee a return on his investment. It’s all about the flash needed to suppress the flash. 

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