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Nov
29

you know the drill

Morale was low inside the firehouse that sat just inside the city limits on the west end of Chiayi. There had been an increase in the number of fires inside the city recently and the poor training that the firemen had received was starting to show. Like all firehouses in The People’s Republic of China they were given an inadequate amount of equipment, they were understaffed and all of the firemen felt underpaid and underappreciated.

That wasn’t what was eating Dazhu Xing at the moment though. It was the training. More specifically it was the fact that this training hadn’t been reviewed and updated in decades. It wasn’t adapting to a new set of realities. Although technology had advanced and the city had grown, they were given strict instructions and protocols on how to deal with every scenario that could possibly arise from a counsel far removed from Chiayi and unqualified to make such judgments.

He had visited other countries and seen new techniques being employed that not only saved collateral but also saved lives. Why was his country so backward in its thinking? Did communism by definition have to turn a blind eye to the rest of the world and stick with its own traditions even if it meant doing so was detrimental to the very people it claimed to serve and protect? It seemed more about keqi than doing what was right.

Take for instance the regulations about getting to the fire itself. Once an alarm has been sounded the response time for his crew to arrive is more than double what it should be due to the government policy of having to stop at every light, wait for it to turn red, have all the firemen jump out, run around the fire engine and then get back into the vehicle in a different spot. A few years back when Dazhu went to the board that oversees such things to complain they agreed completely and invested in a device that when installed made sure the lights turn red as they approached to save them from having to wait for a green. Dazhu was unable to make it clear to them that this was not the answer he was looking for.

The board also suggested that his crew spend more time practicing jumping out at each light to improve their time, and called for the removal of one of the hoses, so it would be easier for the firefighters to get in and out.

Now I could go on and provide even more details about this completely fictitious person and the fictitious fire department he works for and perhaps even pretend that this blog is a scalding commentary about the inefficiencies that are allowed to go unchecked in a communist society but the point is this … is the image of a fire department racing to a fire but having to stop at every red light and perform a Chinese fire drill the funniest damn thing you’ve ever imaged?

No?

I truly don’t believe you are thinking about it hard enough. Try again. Flashing lights, blaring sirens, the yellow fire-resistant suits and big rubber boots. Chinese guys scrambling to get in and out of the fire engine as a building somewhere down the street is burning down.

Nothing?

Wow.

You not even trying a rittle.

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