Friday, November 19, 2010

You Too Can Prevent Fires

Tokyo - Fire is no laughing matter in Tokyo. As this picture of the Mannekin Pis replica (decked out in a Tokyo Fire Department uniform and propping up a "Fire Protection" placard) adorning Tokyo's Hamamatsucho train station might suggest, everyone is encouraged to "pitch in" and try to prevent fires from occurring.
Tokyo was devastated by hellish fires twice in the last century, once in the aftermath of the 1924 Kanto Earthquake and some two decades later in the fire bombing of the city toward the end of WWII. An article describing the Peshtigo fire, the deadliest fire in U.S. history, in Wikipedia notes an interesting connection between that inferno and the fires that consumed Tokyo and other Japanese urban communities during the war. It states: "The combination of wind, topography, and ignition sources that created the firestorm, primarily representing the conditions at the boundaries of human settlement and natural areas, is known as the Peshtigo Paradigm. This paradigm was closely studied by the American and British military during World War II to learn how to recreate firestorm conditions for bombing campaigns against cities in Germany and Japan. The bombing of Dresden and the even more severe one of Tokyo by incendiary devices resulted in death tolls comparable to or exceeding those of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

About the photo: This replica of Brussel's renowned Mannekin Pis ("Peeing Boy") stands on the southbound platform of Japan Railway East's Hamatsucho Station on the Kehein Tohoku line in Tokyo. Like the Belgian original, the Tokyo statue can be seen donning different outfits throughout the year.

A number of Peeing Boy statues can also be found inhabiting the interior of the Mannekin Pis restaurant in Olney Maryland where they serve up a large selection of Belgian biers (a.k.a. "beers" for our less urbane readers). How do I know all this you ask? Two words: Le Internet  (further note to our less urbane readers: the "t" at the end of Internet is silent).

Now a word on preparedness:

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