Oh dear! It appears that my garden shed has caught fire. Although some commentators have suggested that putting water on the flames will dampen a fire down, I think it's premature to adopt any course of action without rigorous analysis. Let's not rush madly into something we'd only regret.
The fire has now spread from the garden shed to my house. As tempting as it may be to ring the Fire Brigade, I need to think this decision through. It's easy to jump at what at the time seems like the obvious thing to do. But actions have consequences, and for every good idea there will be a downside.
I see my neighbour is rushing over with her garden hose. I suppose I had better stop her. It's true that if water is effective in quelling flames, as some people have claimed, then my neighbour's actions make a lot of sense. But if putting out a fire was as simple as putting water on it, don't you think it would have been tried before?
I'd like to see some evidence of the effectiveness of water before committing to any course of action. We also shouldn't assume that even if water often puts fires out, water will work in every situation. Let's hear all the arguments and then make a decision based on the facts.
I will shoo her away.
The Fire Brigade are here. This is deeply concerning, because I never called them. What if there is a fire somewhere else? How can we be certain that their scarce resources will be properly allocated? Is it sensible for them to be here dousing my house fire when, for all I know, someone might be trapped in a burning building across town and needing rescue?
Surely it's more important for the Fire Brigade to be on stand-by in case someone's life is seriously endangered, rather than fighting fires that don't imminently threaten life.
What if they were trying to rescue someone in a building across town, but then another building with even more people in it caught fire? What is their policy on multiple callouts? Does it take into account the various factors relevant to each building, such as construction, the proximity of fire exits to trapped persons, and the type of fire? Can we have total confidence that these issues are being properly considered?
I'd really be more comfortable knowing they had these things under control before they committed to any course of action. If they don't then it seems the height of foolishness for them to be out fighting fires. Someone could get hurt.
The fireman I tried to reason with pushed me aside and called me a crazy old fool. I should have expected that sort of arrogant "I know best" attitude. It's exactly the sort of thing I've written about time and time again: people in authority who refuse to be consulted or to make decisions based on the best evidence and after due consideration of all the issues. Sometimes I despair of this country.
My house has burned to the ground. I am ruined. I have nothing. I am uninsured, because after several months of carefully weighing up the pros and cons of each insurance policy offered to me, I decided to adopt a "wait and see" approach.
Although this approach has left me financially and emotionally wrecked, I'm confident that my decision will prove to be the correct one. Rome wasn't built in a day, although it was sacked in the space of an afternoon more than once.