Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fire Fighters and Secret Societies

Please pray for those affected by the terrible fires in California. We have friends and family in the San Diego area who have had to evacuate.

On a lighter note, Jimmy Akin uses this opportunity to refer to the peculiar instructions given by the second century emperor Trajan to Pliny the Younger about having fire departments:
Pliny to Trajan:

A desolating fire broke out in Nicomedia, and destroyed a number of private houses, and two public buildings -- the almshouse and the temple of Isis -- although a road ran between them. The fire was allowed to spread farther than it need, first owing to the violent wind; second, to the laziness of the citizens, it being generally agreed they stood idly by without moving, and simply watched the conflagration. Besides there was not a single public fire engine or bucket in the place, and not one solitary appliance for mastering a fire. However, these will be provided upon orders I have already given. But, Sire, I would have you consider whether you think a fire company of about 150 men ought not to be formed? I will take care that no one not a genuine fireman shall be admitted, and that the guild should not misapply the charter granted it. Again there would be no trouble in keeping an eye on so small a body.

Trajan to Pliny:

You have formed the idea of a possible fire company at Nicomedia on the model of various others already existing; but remember that the province of Bithynia, and especially city-states like Nicomedia, are the prey of factions. Give them the name we may, and however good be the reasons for organization, such associations will soon degenerate into dangerous secret societies. It is better policy to provide fire apparatus, and to encourage property holders to make use of them, and if need comes, press the crowd which collects into the same service.
In spite of his concern about certain city-states being the prey of factions, Trajan is long dead.

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