The PPJPC and the old firehouse

Once upon a time the PPJPC met in an old firehouse. Coincidence.
FirehouseI’m thinking about a little fire department, getting along just fine, no major fires to deal with, and community support ebbing for lack of concern about fires. The firehouse has to organize bake sales and fundraisers to keep itself going, and before long they get pretty focused on bake sales. And then there’s a fire.

You might think that everyone would agree you call firemen in the case of fire, except for the fire department staff which had situated itself best for baking cookies and raising money. They don’t have the constitution for fighting fires, and so it becomes up to the volunteers to assemble themselves for the task. They undertake the work, trying not to resent the paid firemen now cookie sellers. But the fund-raising activities are now so well-oiled that they can’t spare their buckets for the brigade, nor their water for the fire. And some complain about the firefighters’ boots getting the floors too muddy, or the wet coats making others wet. And there’s even grumbling about the amateurish performance of the firefighting, worrying that it will impact negatively on cookie sales.

Of course another adverse impact on cookie sales, has to do with the people who originally supported the fund-raiser. The volunteers now manning the hoses are the people who would be the regular bake sale patrons, but have come to see that the fireman funds no longer go toward the firefighting.

And then there are the ideological divides, about how fires must be fought or not fought. Directly, or metaphorically, arguing between applying fighting and non-fighting skills. Some believing that you can fight the core of what causes fires, by holding bake sales. There is something undeniably hopeful about the idea that everyone can come together over a plate of homemade cookies.

Of course we can argue all day about the conspiratorial theory that some fires are set deliberately, or that similar elements find it beneficial to cultivate a culture which glamorizes fires, accepts them as inevitable, or at the very least, becomes incapable of putting them out. Those elements promote an attitude which disparages the uncool, traditional values of calling for fires to be put out, and by wile or guile, sabotage the preventive infrastructure assembled by the community, leapfrogging the common wisdom which had led the community to build the firehouse and hire the firemen in the first place.

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Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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1 Response to The PPJPC and the old firehouse

  1. Avatar Tony Logan says:

    A very good analogy, and especially so considering that the PPJPC office building does actually look like a firehouse station way past its prime.

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