By Scott Bowlby
After a fifth consecutive fire-free summer, cottage country O.P.P. detachments, in coordination with local fire departments, have created a Direct Action Fire Team (D.A.F.T.).
O.P.P. spokesman Curtis Berndt announced the creation of the unit before an impressive backdrop of new-model Dodge Charger interceptors, glittering with customized D.A.F.T. paint decals. After questioned about the organizational objectives of the D.A.F.T., Berndt was categorical: “D.A.F.T. is being put in place in order to ensure our local fire departments remain up to par. We need to be proactively challenging them to guarantee a state of constant readiness.”
When challenged to respond to the claim that the D.A.F.T. represents yet another unjustifiable O.P.P. expense—and an ostentatious waste of precious taxpayer contributions during a time of austerity—Berndt sought to reassure local property owners and the public at large.
“If your cottage was suddenly engulfed in flames, you’d expect fire services to be there for you,” he said. “We need to ensure that these kinds of legitimate expectations aren’t simply theoretical. Ontarians deserve better.”
Berndt’s colleague, Sgt. Annie Laflamme, was tasked with outlining the D.A.F.T.’s rules of operation.
“Having convinced the province to introduce the D.A.F.T. tax as part of municipal property assessments last year, we now possess reliable data regarding who has yet to pay their most recent assessments in full. We will be consulting this data during our operations.”
Pressed to elaborate by several journalists present, Laflamme became visibly exasperated: “Look, it’s really quite simple,” she said. “A non-compliant property owner will be selected from the data using a randomized algorithm by operatives at our Orillia headquarters. D.A.F.T. operatives will then surround the property in question.”
“Then, an O.P.P. helicopter will be dispatched to approach the property. A ten-minute warning will be given by megaphone, allowing all humans and animals present to exit the property. The D.A.F.T. operatives will then set fire to the property using various state-of-the-art means available to them,” explained Laflamme.
At this point, Berndt intervened to describe one of the new tools at D.A.F.T.’s disposal:
“Each of the cruisers behind me has been equipped with bidirectional flamethrowers, fed directly from the fuel supply and concealed beneath the running boards. We saw a South African prototype on YouTube and decided to replicate it here.”
In the unlikely event of insufficient ground forces, Berndt conceded that the “helicopters could, in fact, be required to simply firebomb the property.”
Fire services would be notified “by concerned neighbours, most likely,” he said.
Laflamme reclaimed the microphone and opened the floor to general questions.
An elderly local, seemingly asleep on his chair until that point, suddenly yelled out: “What if someone was in there sleeping and you just toasted them!?”
Laflamme, appearing somewhat startled, answered that “the O.P.P. would be willing to help direct medical staff to and from the property, if necessary by introducing supplementary R.I.D.E. checks and further roadblocks to allow more rapid passage to local hospitals.”
The local man appeared satisfied with Laflamme’s response, rapidly dozing off once again.
“Could one reasonably compare the D.A.F.T. program to a terrorist attack?” a reporter from a local student paper asked.
“They are completely different,” said Laflamme. “One is designed to hurt the people and the other is intended to protect the people.”
“I still cannot tell if we actually need you,” the student said.