Q: So what exactly is this “fire department”? I’ve heard a lot about it and I’m not sure it’s right for me.
A: The fire department is an organization that puts out fires. If your house is on fire, you should call the fire department.
Q: It sounds like the fire department starts fires. Are you sure the fire department doesn’t bring fire to my house? The last thing I need is someone coming here and giving me fire.
A: Despite the name, the fire department actually removes fire from your home. Think of it as an “anti-fire department” if that makes it easier. Rest assured, the fire department is 100% opposed to fire. We guarantee that after our visit, you will have an amount of fire less than or equal to the amount of fire you had before. The fire department will never give you more fire.
Q: How much does it cost to get rid of my fire?
A: The fire department puts out fires completely free of charge.
Q: Even if I have a lot of fire? Surely they must charge something. What’s the catch?
A: No catch! There are no hidden fees, and we promise that our firemen will be at the site of your fire in 30 minutes or less.
Q: What kind of creatures are the ”fire-men”? Are they men made of fire? That sounds scary.
A: Don’t worry. Firemen—or firefighters, if you prefer—are normal men and women who are specially trained to fight fires. They are not made of fire.
Q: How do the fire-men take the fire away? Is there some kind of special sack that they put the fire in?
A: The fire department uses hoses filled with water to put out the fire.
Q: How does the fire department know that these hoses aren’t filled with more fire?
A: We do a daily check to make sure that the hoses are filled with water, not more fire.
Q: Shouldn’t it be called the water department?
A: We tried that but were overwhelmed by calls from people who wanted to be saved from drowning or to get advice about what kind of bathing suit to buy.
Q: Why do I need the fire department? If they just use water, why can’t I just get some from my faucet?
A: You could try, but it probably wouldn’t be enough; you need a lot of water to put out a fire. The fire department has fire trucks that take large amounts of water and spray it on the fire, which is much more efficient.
Q: I suppose these “fire-trucks” are also not made of fire?
A: No, they are normal trucks. Although they are painted bright red.
Q: If I punch the fire, will it go away?
A: No. In fact you would most likely burn your hand, which would require you to call an ambulance, which is a whole separate issue.
Q: Let’s say my house is on fire and I’ve got the grill going in my living room, as I often do. Will the fire department and the fire-men put out the fire in my grill—which I still want, mind you—as well as the fire burning my walls and chairs and body?
A: Unfortunately, yes. Firefighters don’t have time to distinguish between different types of fire. If they see fire, they’re going to put it out. End of discussion.
Q: Is it possible for me to just learn to live with my fire, rather than call the fire department?
A: Many people prefer to manage their fire on a day-to-day basis without any fire department intervention, though this is not something that the fire department recommends. Sure, the extra heat is nice in the winter, but the smoke can make it difficult to watch TV, and it will be impossible to prevent your marshmallows from becoming toasted—and sometimes you just want a regular marshmallow, you know?
Q: Now what’s this I hear about fire-dogs? Are the fire-dogs painted bright red like the trucks?
A: No, they are white with black spots.
Q: Like a zebra?
A: Kind of. Not really.
Q: Another animal question: Is it true you also get cats out of trees?
Q: Then shouldn't you be called the cat department?
A: All right, you know what? If your house is on fire you should call the fire department. Otherwise, just leave us alone.
Brian Agler is a writer living Brooklyn. His work has appeared online in McSweeney's Internet Tendency, and in real life at various shows throughout New York City. He also tweets, if that's something you're in to.
Luke Burns is a writing guy who lives in New York City. His work recently appeared in The Best of McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Sometimes he tweets a little (@lukevburns). Also he has a website.
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