You Don’t Fight Fire with Fire

(CN: Mentions of death and fire damage)

Actually, yes; yes you do.

It’s a technique used to both fight and prevent dangerous wildfires. A section of forest, or field, or whatever other terrain is under threat is subjected to a controlled burn. This serves two purposes. The main one is that it creates a pocket of space of cleared material that cannot feed the fire. The wildfire burns to the edge of the cleared space, and finding no fuel, burns out.

Additionally, the controlled burn clears the area of dead vegetation and speeds up the rate at which nutrients are returned back into the soil. This helps speed the growth of fresh green vegetation, which prevents the likelihood of future wildfires developing.

It’s actually a tactic being used right now in British Columbia to help fight the devastating wildfires that have taken place this year. In fact, the current wildfires are as bad as they are right now in part because the use of fire in firefighting was dramatically decreased in the last several years because of the perception that fires are always harmful. Because people were more afraid of potential property damage now, or a reduction in tourism, than they were of the deaths and devastation that would result from not taking the appropriate preventative steps.

Let’s carry the metaphor further. There are times when different tactics have to be employed because using the same ones that are usually used would actually make the situation worse. Imagine if you will, someone using water to try and put out an oil fire. It would be terrible. The water would push the oil around and set more on fire. If you did this inside a home, what was a simple pot of oil on fire would now burn down your house.

So what do you do instead? You smother it. You take a heavy cloth, a pot lid, a larger pot, anything, and you place it over the fire. In doing so you choke off the air that is feeding the flames and the fire goes out. For a larger oil fire, you bury it.

Fire can be dangerous but it can also be a force for good. It is the spark of creation that helped humanity become more than they were. In every mythology it is the key to humanity’s evolution. It cooks our food, it heats our homes, it keeps away predators; without fire we would not live the lives we do. As someone who lost everything in a house fire just a few years ago, I don’t have to be reminded of the dangers of fire. It can destroy. It can kill.

You have to approach every situation critically. It’s about learning how to recognize dangerous situations for what they are and employing necessary safety precautions and proper education.

Don’t confuse anger for hate. They are the difference between good and bad fire.

Also remember this. When they teach people how to recognize a threat in the crowd. When they teach people to figure out who is the biggest threat in a group, it’s not anger they tell you to look for. It’s contempt. It’s disgust.

That’s not the heart of anger. Contempt is cold.


You Don’t Fight Fire with Fire

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