harrismith's bravest

Last week, when we had the fire, I called the Fire Brigade in our town. It took me a while to track down the phone number, as the one listed in the phone book was no longer in service. I called the local police station to get the number, and was left on hold while they tried to locate it. I finally got the right number and got through to someone -- but they didn't speak English. At all. Thankfully, a neighboring farmer who speaks fluent Sesotho was here to help, and he got on the phone. He talked to them for about 10 minutes because he had to provide them detailed directions on how to find us. I was really missing our trusty "911" service in America where they not only speak English, but automatically know where you are calling from.

When the Fire Brigade finally arrived, we began pulling our guys off the roof. We figured the firemen would rush right up there, and our guys would only be in the way. Boy, were we wrong! The firemen saw the ladder we had set up, which all our people were using to go up and down, and cringed. They were afraid of heights!

Very slowly, three of them made it up the ladder to the first (lowest) portion of the roof. Then they were faced with the dilemma of getting the hose up there. They were too scared to carry it up with them, so our guys ended up getting it and dragging it all the way up.

Still, the firemen wouldn't budge. The three of them sat in a row on the peak of the low portion of roof, holding onto each other's shoulders. They refused to go up any further or actually do anything to fight the fire. Thankfully, our guys were far braver -- they took that hose all the way up to the highest point where the fire was, and fought it till it went out. Literally, the firemen just sat there and watched.

After we had the fire completely extinguished, the firemen very cautiously shimmied down the roof to the ladder, where they proceeded to, very slowly and carefully, climb down. Pausing on each rung and literally trembling with fear, they took an extremely long time to get all the way down. As they were loading their equipment back onto their truck, the fire chief approached Niel. "We'll be sending you a bill for our services," he told him. Niel just laughed and told them that we'd definitely be disputing it when we got it, seeing as they did nothing at all to fight the fire.

The incompetency and cowardice of these firemen was unbelievable. They are, sadly, nothing like "New York's Bravest"... Good thing our trust was in God and not in them!