What kind of fire is this?

A close-up of wild, orange flame on a black background

Sometimes, a fire needs dousing – no matter what anyone else thinks.

It’s in the curtains, spreading quickly and some decisive action is required to stop the house burning down.

Sometimes, the fire looks like it needs dousing, but on closer inspection: it’s in a grate, behind a screen and it just flared up because someone put some kindling on it.

It might have made the room too warm temporarily, but your dousing technique will be unwelcome overkill and won’t add anything to the situation.

Sometimes, the fire might be throwing off a lot of smoke and making you cough, but as soon as you investigate, you see that someone is using the fire to cook everyone dinner.

Sure, you’re coughing right now, but if you dump water on that bad boy, everyone will go hungry – and it will be on you.

This is the nature of troubleshooting in groups of people. There are different types of fires, not all of which benefit from the generous attention of your water bucket.

In some rare cases, seconds really count – and you can save lives by dousing first and asking questions later. But in the vast majority of situations, the best thing you can do is to put your bucket down, take ten deep breaths and ask yourself “what kind of fire is this?”