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There is the hint of frost in the Vermont morning. The furnace rumbles, the cats snuggle beside the baseboards, the kettle whistles on the stove (there’s good reason Dragons adorn kettles around the world)….

Fire plays a visceral, primordial, mythic role in human existence. It keeps us warm and safe from ravening beasts, tempers our food and lights our way through the night. It is a gift from the Gods – be they Dragon or Titan – and the eternal punishment of the damned; an element both dangerous and benevolent.

Welcome to Fire Prevention Week. Time to sweep our chimneys, check the batteries in our smoke detectors, and enjoy draconic pyrotechnics in the autumn sky!

When the subject of fire prevention crops up (as it so naturally does), the uninitiated mind rarely turns to thoughts of Dragons. Oh, they are great at starting blazes, but controlling them?

First, let’s consider that, though erroneously celebrated in myth and legend and too many Hollywood CGI-laden extravaganzas – and stunning book covers – to count, not all Dragons breath fire. As a defense mechanism, it is employed almost exclusively by Occidental Dragons and a few species of pseudo dragon, and then only rarely. Western Dragons actually use fire for a variety of reasons, only one of which is protection – or, as anti-Dragon folks insist, “aggression.” Brooding Dragons, for example, warm their nesting dens with the occasional blast during dark winter nights. This helps keep their maturing clutches at the optimum temperature and ensures the perpetuation of the species. Flaming an errant knight is the last thing on a maternal Dragon’s mind. Dragons also use fire for mating-ritual panache, warning signals, and just plain fun. After all, if you have it, why not flaunt it?

That said, when you have such a volatile tool at your disposal it is important to use it with care. Dragons know not to set their habitat ablaze; in fact, rumors to the contrary, far more forest fires are started by lightning, arsonists, and reckless campers than Dragons. Sure, accidents can happen, but Dragons live so in the world that they do their best to mitigate such events wherever and whenever possible. To this end – as anyone who’s been Dragoning in the wild knows – your standard Occidental weyr will have a sandy/glassy pit at hand (often near a body of water) for flaming practice.

Little known and less celebrated is the fact that Dragons have been behind the scenes players in preventing and containing wild blazes. They remove underbrush and clear fire breaks. And, in open prairies, they assist in – even guide – controlled burns that help rejuvenate the land.

Controlled Burn

This does not even take into account the multitude of Frost Dragons and Oriental Dragons who can manipulate the waters of the Earth. These Dragons are called upon not only in times of blistering drought, but also in times of raging conflagration, and, mindful of keeping their own homes safe, will respond with open-clouded enthusiasm.

Rain Dragon

So, as you test your kitchen fire extinguisher this week, take a moment to give a thought and a nod to Dragons of fire and rain. Give thanks to the fire Dragons who guard our hearths and warm our toes against the coming winter chill.