After recent runaway fires caused much destruction all over the country, I was reminded of an overheard conversation between two men my age.
They were reminiscing about the old days in Milnerton, Cape. One of them worked, as a volunteer, for the first fire brigade in Milnerton. He said that they got paid, when the need arose for them to be called out.
Whenever they were short of money, they used to light a bush fire. If they found that they were still short of cash after extinguishing that fire, they used to light another.
The moral of the story is: Never create an employment opportunity where people’s wages depend on the maintenance of emergency situations. Fire fighters, for instance, should be paid whether here is a fire to fight or not. Volunteers are just that - voluntary service providers - not supplementary-income earners.