Determined Brigades Firm against Blazing Conflagration
Urban residents of the Realm face the dangers of fire every day: the majority of buildings are constructed of wood, with light from candles held in paper lanterns and fire-pits for heating and cooking (though many urban dwellers must eat from food stalls rather than cooking their own foodstuffs due to limits on storage and cookware available to those of little means). The Scarlet Empress recognized the risks posed by fire, and instituted a number of regulations to ensure thaumaturgic wards and proper building materials & layouts were implemented to reduce the danger. She also founded a department of the Thousand Scales, under aegis of the Honorable and Humble Caretakers of the Common Folk, to combat fires before they spread within the Imperial City… many cities elsewhere on the Blessed Isle subsequently founded similar units, either as divisions of the local Scales or as private enterprises providing firefighting service for a fee or insurance payments.
In the wards of the City, each ward gatehouse is provided with a supply of ladders, buckets, and other necessary implements. The local Black Helms and often Immaculate clergy are incorporated into the firefighting squads along with volunteers who receive a small salary and a mandarin square to mark their position.
The Determined Brigades mark their movements by bearing red-and-black distinguishing lanterns. Black Helm members fight fires protected by their full armour and uniform, while others are equipped with alchemically-treated leather gloves and hooded mantles. They bear some specialized equipment as well as their ladders and buckets: thaumaturgic fire-retardant charms and wooden pumps.
When a fire breaks out, the members of the Determined Brigades sound the alarm throughout the ward. Teams rush to the area, selecting a point past which the fire will not be allowed to spread and affixing their charms there. Actual firefighting comes in two forms: one, throwing water over the flames using buckets and pumps, and two climbing atop buildings to tear them down so the flames can be stopped from spreading. As buckets and pumps are unable to put out potent blazes, they are used to dampen surrounding areas, embers, and the firefighters themselves if they have caught aflame.
The members of the Determined Brigades are renowned for their bravery and self-sacrifice, charging into fires to stop them as warriors into battle against the Anathema… indeed, such an allegory is common in poetic descriptions of their work.