Volunteer fire departments.
Seriously, folks, volunteer fire departments rock. The house next to me caught fire today and the fire department was ON IT. We can’t afford to maintain a fire department in the professional sense, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need fire services, so I’m glad that members of the community are out there to respond to things like, say, houses that are on fire. (Volunteer firefighters also handle some medical aid calls, search and rescue, car accidents, etc.)
Luckily one of the neighbors spotted the fire and called; I didn’t even notice until the fire department arrived (even though my house is two feet away, I don’t have windows on that side, so I couldn’t see and didn’t smell because it’s windy as all hell so all the windows are closed). The neighbor kept things under control until the fire department got here, which didn’t take long at all, and things got squared away pretty quickly. They probably lost their porch, but that’s about it, in part because the fire was spotted quickly and the fire department was so fast.
I also note that one of the firemen who responded was the electrician who dealt with the electrical system in my house in January 2008 when it was going all haywire. Small town.
So, if you happen to live in an area with a volunteer fire department, donate so that they can keep doing things like keeping your neighbors’ houses from burning to the ground.
Incidentally, the fire appears to have started because the neighbor is a smoker and kept a can full of butts on the porch next to a planter filled with dead plants. Make of that what you will, gentle readers.