I don’t need fire safety talks
Let me get one thing straight. I’m not an arsonist. I’m a sensible, compassionate, thoughtful human being. I go to a Russell Group university. I use apostrophes correctly. I’m academically successful, and everyone knows that means I’m above criticism.
I did not expect to have my intelligence and common sense affronted by my own university, a bastion of knowledge. They’ve read my personal statement: they know my interests are politics, socialising, and defending free speech. Is “starting fires” on that list? No, no it is not. And yet, when I logged on to check my timetable this morning, I was affronted by the sight of a mandatory fire safety talk.
This is an Unpopular Opinion and people will probably write angry comments or frown disapprovingly at their computer screens, but hey, I’m a white guy – it’s not like I’m going to get rape or death threats. So here goes: fire safety talks are patronising and useless.
Before you get the wrong end of the stick, let me reassure you: I love safety. I always use the emergency exits when I can. Fire alarms are my favourite sound. In fact, nothing turns me on like hard hats and knee pads.
But that’s the reason I don’t need a fire safety talk. I know what safety is in all its complexity and nuance and I am perfect at achieving it every time, by my own standard, which is the only standard I care about. My unattended candles and slapdash oven usage are not at all a danger to those around me. After all, it’s their responsibility to make clear to me that they are flammable. If they don’t do that, how am I to know?
The people behind the fire safety scheme are probably decent, well-meaning people, but they are naive and show a shocking disregard for my feelings. They could be spending their time on so many better things. They could be performing random checks on the fire alarm system, leading rehabilitation programs with convicted arsonists, or they could actually join the fire brigade. But instead they’d rather stroke their own egos by dragging everyone into central hall for an hour every year because it will “save lives”. But really, how many arsonists will go to that talk?
We should be respecting and revering our peers, not patronising them with important life advice. I would much rather save myself an hour of unnecessary information than prevent fires. Everybody knows that fires are only ever started by arsonists, 100% knowingly and deliberately. We should not be talking about fire safety at all – it’s basically the same as accusing everyone of being arsonists. That offends people, and offending people is bad, unless you’re offending them with racism or misogyny.
In fact, fire safety talks are extremely dangerous. If we teach everybody the most flammable places in the home, we only teach the arsonists how to do it better. But of course, those running them are too self-centred to see that. Thank God I’m here to tell them.