ICI has announced the discovery of a new fire fighting agent known as WATER (Wonderful And Total Extinguishing Resource). It is particularly suitable for dealing with fires in buildings, timber yards and warehouses, and is fairly cheap to produce. It is intended that quantities of about a million gallons should be stored in open pools or reservoirs near urban areas and installations of high risk.
WATER is already encountering strong opposition from safety and environmental groups. Professor Connie Barrinner has pointed out that if anyone immersed their head in a bucket of WATER, it would prove fatal in as little as three minutes. Each of ICI's proposed reservoirs will contain enough WATER to fill half a million two-gallon buckets. Each bucketful could be used a hundred times, so there is enough WATER in one reservoir to kill the entire population of the UK.
Did we know, asked a Fire Brigades spokesman, what would happen to this new medium when it was exposed to intense heat? It had been reported that WATER was a constituent of beer; did this mean that fireman would be intoxicated by the fumes?
The Friends of the Earth said they had obtained a sample of WATER and found that it made clothes shrink. If it did this to cotton, what would it do to men?
In the House of Commons, the Home Secretary was asked if he would prohibit the manufacture and storage of this new lethal material. A full investigation was needed, he replied, and the Major Hazards Group would be asked to report.