A public-service announcement from Her Majesty's No War But The Class War Office on how to respond to a strike of firefighters or the outbreak of war against Iraq.
A guide for employees, passengers and residents
Her Majesty’s No War But The Class War Office
With the ongoing dispute between the firefighters and the employers, and with the continuing threat of war against Iraq, the No War But The Class War Office has decided to issue this information leaflet to help employees, residents and passengers on urban transport systems to minimise any threat of fire.
Fire risks at work are many, but can be considered to fall into two groups, inflammable materials, and hazardous social organisation. There are many measures that can be taken to reduce the hazard of fire in working environments.
Speed causes friction and increases stress, both of which increase the likelihood of fire. Where possible, work slower to prevent fires from starting.
Avoid using machinery or tools
Do not use vehicles, or any equipment of any kind if at all possible.
Reduce stationery stocks to a minimum in offices.
Most people who work in an office will already have a stock of Post-it Notes™, envelopes, notepads and Jiffy Bags™ at home, provided for free and unwittingly by employers. During a firefighters’ strike or war, it is necessary to store as much office stationery at home as possible. Remember: its not just paper that burns. In the heat of an office fire, items such as staplers, hole-punches, telephone handsets and computer equipment can also add fuel to the conflagration. These items too should wherever possible be removed from the office.
It may be necessary to remove potential fire hazards surreptitiously. Managers, supervisors and employers are charged with the administration of a business unit rather than with meeting and increasing human needs. They must therefore maximise profits and minimise costs where possible rather than provide a safe environment through fire prevention methods as outlined above.
Phone in sick
In the event of war or firefighter strike, it is best to avoid the workplace as much as possible.
Take industrial action
Going on strike is another way of avoiding the workplace that may be an option for some employees. Don’t worry what the issue is (remember that in the 1970s car workers went on strike to demand that management provide mugs for tea-breaks).
Permanently reduce fire risk
Reorganise social life to meet human needs rather than maximise profits. This will entail the abolition of work as an activity separate from the rest of life.
Commuting to work
There have been many serious accidents involving public transport. In order to be aware of ways of reducing fire risk it is necessary to consider why we commute in the first place. At present, work and life outside work are separate in a way they were not in the past nor would be in a reasonable organisation of social life. The present situation requires that employees commute to work for hours each day on mass transportation systems such as the London Underground. This means travelling every morning with thousands of strangers who we have no connection with either at work or outside of it, leading to the typical situation of social isolation characterised by the crowd of commuters all sitting quietly, not talking and avoiding eye contact. This social isolation is itself hazardous, as in the event of a fire, the crowd acts as a mass of isolated atoms, each acting for him or herself. This is a much more dangerous situation than a crowd that has some social and human bonds of friendship and solidarity.
Reduce social isolation
Today’s “lonely crowds” are the product of a commodity society in which human beings are a resource to be exploited rather than a purpose. To overthrow that society of isolation will require the abolition of the commodity form of human activity: wage labour. In the mean time try the following. Strike up a conversation with a fellow traveller. This may seem hard due to lack of practice and due to the fear of being assumed to be mad. Bear in mind that it is a society based on waged work (and so the separation of work from the rest of life which requires commuting in the first place) that is insane. It is also true that madness is a common response to a mad society. For suggestions on how to go about it, write for the leaflet “How to talk to people on the tube with minimal social embarrassment” NWBTCW/TT/10231. Or if you have any good ideas yourself on how to do this, write and tell us, because we don’t really know either.
Avoid unnecessary commutes
As commutes are journeys to work, the same measures outlined in the section on employment can be used to make commuting safer. To recap:
- Phone in sick
- Take industrial action
- Abolish work
There are many measures that can be taken in the home to reduce the danger posed by fire in wartime or in a firefighters strike. Again, its worth remembering that social isolation is a hazard, as it is in commuting for example. Although isolation at home is often not as acute as on the Underground, it is still severe. The existence of capital and wage labour means a break up of society into individual citizens, who each work in a different enterprise from their neighbours, reducing the amount of sociability dramatically compared to any other previously existing, or desirable future society.
Avoid using the television
This device dramatically increases individual isolation.
Invite friends to visit
Also visit friends and neighbours
Phone in sick
Or take other measures to minimise time at work, as outlined above.
In the event of a Firefighters’ Strike
Whatever measures you take, fire hazards remain: for example, electrical faults, lightening strikes and spontaneous human combustion (SHC). To minimise danger, in the event of a firefighters strike, go regularly to the picket lines, where firefighters will be on hand to assist in combating SHC and other unforeseen events. The picket lines are also sites to reduce hazardous social isolation, through chatting with/up firefighters and other members of the public who go along.
Advice for military personnel in the event of a war against Iraq
- There would be little or no danger of fire in the United Kingdom as a result. Iraq poses no military threat to the UK.
- There is a dramatically increased risk of accident in the Armed Forces. For example helicopter crashes are quite common during large scale operations, as witnessed prior to the Falklands War.
- There is a likelihood that US armed forces will again bomb British forces, as happened during the 1991 Gulf War.
Considering these points, the main fire hazards in the event of a war put at risk two groups: Armed Forces personnel and Iraqi civilians and conscripts. It is outside the scope of this brochure to provide advice for Iraqi citizens but the following recommendations can be made to Armed Forces personnel:
Avoid hazardous situations
Do not put yourself in close proximity to helicopters, armoured vehicles, weaponry or military installations. This will reduce the likelihood of accidents and of attack by US or Iraqi armed forces.
It will also reduce the likelihood of incineration of Iraqi citizens.
Publicly condemn the war
This may undermine morale and make war less viable. Israeli troops have done this, so far to small but significant effect.
Phone in sick
Go absent without leave (AWOL) or desert. Fraternize with the Iraqi troops, perhaps organise a between the lines football tournament. Consider staging an armed mutiny.
When considering fire prevention measures, bear in mind that class warfare is an effective way to bring major conflagrations to an end.
No War But The Class War Office
January 2003. Taken from the No War But The Class War website.