Fire is the heat and light that comes from the burning of something. It can be a
boon or bane for people depending on its
effects - harmful or useful.
One of the best uses of fire is the production of light. Early man, who
retreated to caves in the night, was in constant fear of wild animals which
could harm him. Under the cover of darkness, they could spring on and attack
him. Fire allowed him to see his environment more dearly Fire can injure and
burn animals that attacked him. In fact, animals retreated when he brought his
flame torches forward.
With the light which emanated from fire,
could turn his night into day He could be more productive and efficient, thus
making him survive better in his harsh environment and making him superior to
other animals. Fire has the ability to cook food. Meat and vegetables may have
virtues to being eaten raw, but no one can deny the tasty delights of cooked
vegetables or roasted, barbecued and steamed meat. More foods could also be made
palatable to early man. Man also learned to
fashion weapons and tools especially the metallic ones with fire.
With improved technology, Man has learned to better his employment of fire
which provides the energy for machines in industry. Fire generates electricity
and provides the power to drive our transport vessels like planes, ships and
trains. It incinerates metals, and its heat melts metals for separation from
ores. Metals are bent and shaped into desired products used by Man. Hence, fire
used by Man and properly controlled by him has been the boon of mankind.
Fires, however, which are uncontrolled, destroy and kill. The bush fires in
countries like Australia consume valuable forest and farmland. In Indonesia,
uncontrolled burning by greedy people to achieve their own ends, lead to a haze
yearly over neighbouring countries. This has caused health problems, decreased
visibility for people, vehicles and aircraft and has led to a decreased
productivity for many.
Throughout history, fires which have broken out without control for some
time, have caused enormous loss to life and property. Fires erased large parts
of the city of London (1666) and Tokyo (1923). No doubt, the modern cities which
rose from the ashes of the destruction are better planned now, and there are few
slums now. But no one can deny the enormous suffering they had caused.
Fire- friend or enemy? It all depends.