The Three Little Pigs & the Big Bad Wolf

When the elected officials are better informed about the basic concepts of community risk assessment and integrated risk management, they could then make better decisions in their responsibilities of protecting their communities.

We have known for a long time that if we educate our kids while they are still young, their minds can absorb all the information that we provide them. Then they will have a better understanding and remember the basic fundamentals of fire and life safety when they grow up. Yet, we don't spend much effort on educating them later on in life when they have greater capacity to understand and change behavior, but we should!

We must start with ourselves first. We need to be well versed on effective fire prevention measures and come to believe that prevention is everyone's job and not a threat to suppression. A true firefighter is dedicated to protecting the community and his/her brothers and sisters from the menace of fire, and chooses the best tactics to win the fight every time. When the fire is burning, they do their jobs. They also work diligently to prevent fires from endangering lives, supporting fire prevention codes and training the public, officials, and their peers in fire prevention tactics so they can join the fight against the devastating impacts of fire on our communities.

Just as I was thinking about these issues and pondering how we can better communicate with the public we serve, I received an e-mail from a good friend of mine asking for my input on his article. This friend is a fire service leader and we share similar views on very many issues. He has an amazing talent for storytelling and has superb penmanship. In his own style, he explains the most complex fire service leadership and risk management issues to people of all ages.

When I read the draft of his article titled "The Three Little Pigs," I was truly elated. I thought that it was a brilliant idea to revive those old childhood stories and the famous fables to be able to strike a chord and communicate with our public. After all, what better way to educate our public about the importance of solid prevention and risk management measures, the consequences and failure analysis, than to write an article about "The Three Little Pigs & The Big Bad Wolf?"

You all probably remember the story from the nursery rhymes quite well. But as a brief refresher, the story is about these three little pigs who left their mother's home to be independent and live their lives in their own way and build their own homes. Each went about constructing their homes differently based on their personal preference.

The first little pig built his house with straw. Maybe he was an environmentalist and believed in energy efficient "green" buildings. Maybe ease of construction and labor cost concerns were his reasons for his choice of building construction methods. Perhaps no one had ever pointed out the benefits of fire safe construction. No one knows, since the original author didn't explore that angle of the story.

The second little pig made his house with wood and sticks. Maybe he was aware of the better flame spread properties of wood versus the straw. Regardless though, he built his house with the construction materials of his choice.

And, finally the third little pig made his house with bricks. Rumor has it that he might have been quite conscious about his safety and security, knowledgeable about the materials and construction methods, and knew his building construction codes quite well.

Meanwhile, the big bad wolf in the neighborhood got wind of the arrival of these newcomers to his neck of the woods and decided to pay them a visit for lunch. The big bad wolf's first stop was the straw house. The first little pig saw the big bad wolf and decided not to open the door when he heard the knocks. Not being the patient type, the wolf huffed and puffed, and with his first attempt blew the straw house away. There was nothing there at all to protect the first little pig. He met a very tragic ending. I guess the straw house was no match for the intent and the strength of the critter's destructive will.

Sigh. Only if the first little pig was a little more safety conscious and had known the consequences of his decisions during the construction phase of his little house.

Being greedy, the big bad wolf decided to visit the second house made out of wood and sticks. And, again, since the second little pig decided not to open the door, the big bad wolf huffed and puffed, and after a few attempts was successful in having a lunch meeting with the second little pig.