It was Harl Bronnen who solved the problem. You see Port Naain can occasionally have a trouble with house fires. How they are tackled depends on the area. If you are in Dilbrook then your household staff rally round, and the neighbours turn up with their servants and pretty soon matters are under control. In the Sump a good house fire that takes out half a street is merely a redevelopment opportunity.
Various ideas had been tried in the past. One was to just expect the city watch to deal with the problem. This had been the theoretical stance for most of my lifetime. It had the advantage that the watch were largely respected, well disciplined and had been known to put themselves at risk to rescue their fellow citizens. It had the disadvantage in that the watch was so small it couldn’t adequately police the city, never mind provide a fire service.
The watch was funded from a miscellany of import duties and tolls. One of the main tasks the watch had was cutting down on smuggling which of course reduced the income for the watch. The argument was made that if there were no smuggling then we could have a force large enough to adequately police the city. The counter-argument was also made that if there wasn’t a watch, and therefore no import duties and tolls, we wouldn’t have smuggling anyway.
It was suggested that a fire fighting force also be funded from tolls, but as these tolls didn’t adequately fund the city watch, it was obviously that it wasn’t going to fund a further body. It was suggested by some that increasing the level of tolls would produce more income that could be directed towards fire-fighting. This was shouted down by those who commented that it would merely increase smuggling. The interesting suggestion that the increased number of smugglers should be given the duty to fight fires in return for a guarantee that they would not be prosecuted did not, in my opinion, get the discussion I felt it deserved.
Some even suggested that there be a scheme where homeowners and landlords could pay into a fund which would cover the costs of fire-fighting. A scheme was floated in Dilbrook which worked reasonably well, but in other areas of the city it fell at the first hurdle. In the Sump most landlords and home owners were of the opinion that a good fire amounted to creative destruction, enabling the building of new properties with higher pretensions toward being structurally sound.
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