You had one job!

Firefighters are true heroes that deserve our eternal respect and appreciation, and yet they are also human and as such are prone to errors in judgment like any of us. Even starting a brushfire, which is probably the absolute last mistake we’d expect from a firefighter, has been known to happen and just did recently in Akita Prefecture.

On 7 May at about 1:25 p.m., the chief of the Akita Prefecture Kazuno Wide-Area Administrative Union Fire Department was out clearing land by his parents’ home in Kazuno city. Suddenly, he was confronted by several insects which reports refer to as “hachi“, a Japanese word that can encompass all kinds of yellowy, stingy bugs from humble bumble bees to terrifying murder hornets.

▼ A Japanese giant hornet

I suppose we can give him the benefit of the doubt and say it was murder hornets, because the encounter spooked him enough to pull out a road flare and light it to ward off the flying beasts. After throwing the flare at the bugs in self-defense, it landed in a pile of dry grass and ignited it.

Luckily, a high-ranking firefighter was already at the scene and called for backup. However, by the time three fire engines and eleven other firefighters arrived, about 45 square-meters (484 square feet) of grass and trees were already engulfed in flames. 

It took about 30 minutes to extinguish the blaze, but luckily no one was injured and there was no serious damage to property. In a press conference on 9 May the chief apologized, saying: “I am very sorry that I started a fire, having just called on residents to be careful not to start wildfires.”

▼ The fire chief’s public apology

Many comments online seemed to appreciate the rich irony of the whole situation, but some took a sterner stance.

“That’s really basic safety. He should resign for something like that.”
“It’s like a comedy sketch.”
“When I saw this on the news, I knew it was wrong to laugh, but I did.”
“This is the time of year that the giant hornets build their nests.”
“But did he kill the bugs?”
“Maybe, I don’t know, keep a can of bug spray when going into the brush?”
“It wasn’t that big of an area anyway.”

Indeed, the damage was very limited and the fact he will absolutely never live this down with everyone at the fire department ought to be a suitable punishment. It also serves as a reminder to the rest of us, that fires can happen anywhere and to anyone if not careful, so please stay safe out there!

Source: Akita Sakigake Shimpo, FNN, Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso
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