|This article relies on references to primary sources. (December 2008)|
Volunteer Fire Department
|A Series of Unfortunate Events|
|Motto||"The world is quiet here"|
|First appearance||The Austere Academy|
|Last appearance||The End|
V.F.D. is a mysterious secret organization within the book series A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The purposes of the organization are never made clear, although the name of the organization—presumably an initialism for Volunteer Fire Department—is connected to various interpretations of the word "fire". V.F.D. members have been known to participate in various and often unusual intellectual pursuits, activist (though sometimes illicit) enterprises, and undercover activities, for example: cryptography, disguise training, crime prevention, espionage, animal conditioning projects, and social change. The organization's most known tenets include both extreme secrecy and dedication to the organization itself, with membership beginning from early childhood and seemingly based strongly on family ties.
It has been implied that the organization's original purpose was to fight physical fires, and later developed into a mission to fight other, metaphorical fires, like evil and ignorance. Its motto is "the world is quiet here," reflecting its dedication to keeping the world quiet, in other words, peaceful, knowledgeable and safe. Accordingly V.F.D. dedicates itself to collecting as much truthful information as possible in commonplace books, and compiling it all in various "safe places". All V.F.D. members have a tattoo of an eye on their left ankle.
At some point, V.F.D. underwent a schism, dividing its members into two opposing sides, frequently labeled as volunteers and villains. Villains literally start fires as well as frequently engage in other sinister plots, while volunteers work to thwart these efforts; however, it is emphasized that circumstances often force people to behave as their enemies would, suggesting that, on occasion, members of both sides have in fact done noble as well as awful things to each other. By the time the Baudelaire orphans have become aware of V.F.D., allying steadfastly with the volunteers, it seems as though the biggest problem V.F.D. faces is its own schism, which has murderously pitted the two sides against each other.
V.F.D. was first mentioned at the end of the fifth book The Austere Academy when the Quagmire triplets, Duncan and Isadora Quagmire were researching Count Olaf's history. At the climax of the book, they reveal that they have discovered an important secret regarding V.F.D., but are kidnapped by Count Olaf before they can tell the Baudelaire orphans what they've discovered. The V.F.D. increases in prominence in subsequent volumes; the group is connected with the deaths of the Baudelaire and the Quagmire parents and the schemes of their enemy, Count Olaf. It eventually transpires that it is the name of a secret organization. The Slippery Slope suggests that V.F.D. stands for 'Volunteer Fire Department', among other things; in The End Lemony Snicket's narration seems to confirm that 'Volunteer Fire Department' is indeed the correct meaning of the initials. In The Grim Grotto, it is revealed that while this was the origin of the organization, its members had many other interests. "V.F.D." is also used as an abbreviation for various terms and organizations related to the organization, which increases the confusion of outsiders regarding the purpose of the group.
According to Kit Snicket, it can be read to mean a group that actively starts fires (something of an allusion to the "firemen" in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451), which indeed happens when the group is split because of a schism. One group of Schismatics fights fires and the other half are arsonists. When the Schism occurred and exactly why it occurred is unknown, except that it was in the childhood of Kit Snicket and Dewey Denouement and that it appears that a line has been drawn between those who stop fires and those who start them. The members of the former are called "volunteers" and the members of the latter are called "villains". The "volunteers" often appear to be desperate, in that their situation seems to be one of dire straits. It is openly stated that the "villains" are growing more powerful and the "volunteers" weaker; however, the epilogue of the thirteenth and final book suggests that after the events therein, the "volunteer" half of the organization seems to have survived or recovered, while the "villain" half has returned to its former power, or possibly both sides have been fragmented.
The protagonists of the series (Violet Baudelaire, Klaus Baudelaire and Sunny Baudelaire) discover that their parents were members of this secret organization, as were many of the guardians they were placed with after their parents' death, along with various other people they encountered throughout the books.
It should be noted that most V.F.D. members maintain libraries, and of course the natural enemy of a library is a fire.
Responding to a query on the series' website, Lemony Snicket stated that the sugar bowl contains "a tiny document concerning the nature of V.F.D." The first discussion of this nature appears in The Carnivorous Carnival. V.F.D. member Olivia Caliban tells the Baudelaire orphans: "The world is a harum-scarum place. […] They say that long ago it was simple and quiet, but that might be a legend." Although no specific mission statement is ever ascribed to V.F.D., the organization's purpose is defined on multiple occasions. Perhaps the most frequently cited tenet of V.F.D. is nobleness; according to Quigley Quagmire, all members of V.F.D. share "noble ideals".
In The Slippery Slope, Snicket lays out three charges which may be seen as the foundation of the organization: "integrity, the prevention of fire, and being well-read." Snicket reiterates these aims in describing V.F.D.'s members as "all the kind, brave, and well-read people in the world"; as those who have chosen "a life of decency, integrity, and kindness, which is […] challenging and noble"; and as those who "feel […] that well-read people are less likely to be evil, and a world full of people sitting quietly with good books in their hands is preferable to a world full of schisms and sirens and other noisy and troublesome things." The organization's promotion of bravery is affirmed in The Grim Grotto, where V.F.D. is described as awarding citations for bravery. In The Penultimate Peril, Snicket quotes Edith Wharton in describing the organization's goals: "One can remain alive long past the usual date of disintegration if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity, interested in big things, and happy in small ways."
V.F.D. isn't just a fire department. Aye—it started that way. But the volunteers were interested in every such thing! I was one of the first to sign up for Voluntary Fish Domestication. That was one of the missions of Anwhistle Aquatics. Aye! I spent four long years training salmon to swim upstream and search for forest fires.
All members of V.F.D. are placed in a rigorous training program in which they are taught a wide range of classical subjects in the arts and sciences. V.F.D. is further described as seeking to "unlock mysteries" and preempt villainy. In The Grim Grotto, Widdershins states that V.F.D. is about "justice […] and liberty […] and an opportunity to make the world quiet […] and safe." Kit Snicket likens the aims of Martin Luther King, Jr., to those of V.F.D., suggesting that because of his efforts he might be considered an honorary member.
A mysterious sugar bowl is of value to members on both sides of the schism, of which it is stated to be the cause and serves as a MacGuffin to drive the story in later books. Despite it and its contents being pursued by volunteers, villains, and the Baudelaires, its significance is never revealed and it does not appear in the final book of the series, although the books suggest that the sugar bowl contains an antidote for the fungi Medusoid Mycelium. The one hint to its true meaning is the remark, "it isn't the sugar bowl that's important, it's what's inside it". It is said in The Slippery Slope that the sugar bowl was thrown out the window of the V.F.D. headquarters in the Mortmain Mountains (in the Valley of Four Drafts) by one of the members (of V.F.D) into The Stricken Stream. The man who threw the sugar bowl out the window might have been Dewey Denouement. In The Penultimate Peril, the Baudelaire children conclude that Dewey Denouement dropped the sugar bowl into the pond outside the Hotel Denouement that contains the secret catalog of V.F.D.'s story, which also becomes the final resting place of Dewey Denouement himself.
The Baudelaires' discoveries
- V.F.D. is first mentioned by Duncan Quagmire in The Austere Academy, when he tries to tell Klaus something terrible about Count Olaf's past, but can only manage to yell the organization's initials before he's driven away along with Isadora. The initials were V.F.D..
- Next, in The Ersatz Elevator, the Baudelaires discover a tunnel from 667 Dark Avenue (the home of Esmé and Jerome Squalor) to the Baudelaire mansion. Esmé is part of the V.F.D.'s fire-starting side, whereas Jerome became a part of the firefighting side sometime after the events in The Ersatz Elevator. Also, in the 'In Auction' the Baudelaires buy 'V.F.D.' but find out that it only stood for 'Very Fancy Doilies' and that this was not the V.F.D. they were looking to find (doilies are very briefly mentioned also in the twelfth book, when the author makes a vague reference to a family that has been scouring the globe for a terribly important doily).
- In The Vile Village, the Baudelaires are offered a home in a village known only as "V.F.D.". Thinking this may be related to the aforementioned secret, they arrive only to find it stands for Village of Fowl Devotees—not the organization V.F.D. which they seek, although while there they do meet a man named Jacques who appears to be a member of V.F.D.; among other things, he has an eye tattoo identical to the one which Count Olaf has. It is later revealed that all members of V.F.D., at least before a certain period in time, were tattooed with this symbol.
- In The Hostile Hospital, the Baudelaires meet a group of people who call themselves the Volunteers Fighting Disease, which is, like the Village of Fowl Devotees, not connected to the group they seek. The trio later discover that one person may have survived the fire which destroyed their home, possibly one of their parents, as suggested by a sentence written on the 13th page of the Snicket File: "Because of the evidence discussed on page nine, experts now suspect that there may, in fact, be one survivor of the fire", which was accompanied by a photograph of the Baudelaire parents, Jacques Snicket, and a person whose face is turned against the camera,very probably Lemony Snicket.
- In The Carnivorous Carnival the Baudelaires learn about the disguise kit that all VFD members use and are introduced to the eye of VFD.
- It is said that volunteers have passageways built underneath their houses so they can escape to safe places during fires (for instance, a passageway under the Quagmire home leads to Uncle Monty's house, from The Reptile Room, and the elevator shaft in 667 Dark Avenue leads from Esmé Squalor's apartment to the Baudelaire mansion, as seen in The Ersatz Elevator).
- In The Slippery Slope, Klaus and Violet Baudelaire have help from a mysterious snow scout while they're trying to find their sister who was captured by Count Olaf. The snow scout is Quigley Quagmire, who tells them that he has been working with VFD, and that he believes that VFD stands for Volunteer Fire Department.
- In The Grim Grotto, Captain Widdershins tells the Baudelaires that V.F.D. started out as a fire department, but eventually expanded to have planes and ships and included many areas of undercover studies.
- In The Penultimate Peril, the Baudelaires find a person named Dewey Denouement, who was the only one who knew where the sugar bowl is. But Klaus finds out that the sugar bowl ends up in the pond next to Hotel Denouement. When he died, the secret supposedly died with him, although the narrative implies that the bowl was removed by a taxi driver, who is suggested to be Lemony Snicket himself. Clues in the books suggest that the sugar bowl contains horseradish, an antidote for the poisonous fungi medusoid mycelium, but it could also contain wasabi.
|English Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
In Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, many occurrences of V.F.D. are seen; more importantly, it reveals much more about the nature of V.F.D. as an organization:
- Many members have belonged to V.F.D. since they were children. (page 38)
- Children were stolen from their parents - albeit with permission (page 38) - and were raised to become volunteers (pages 12–20). The children were selected for having exceptional observational and/or note-taking skills (page 39). The children were then isolated from their families.
- The goal of V.F.D. is to ensure that the world remains "quiet"; the pledge of the secret organization is "The world is quiet here". This is an allusion to the first lines of Algernon Charles Swinburne's poem, The Garden of Proserpine. (pages 36 and 39)
- Count Olaf was a member of V.F.D. (page 45).
- Because of its enemies, V.F.D. is forced to change its headquarters and whereabouts very often. (page 51)
- Members of V.F.D. do not get paid. (page 19)
- Since the schism, V.F.D. has realized that it is unwise to permanently mark oneself with a symbol when the meaning of the symbol may change at any moment, so people who now join V.F.D. do not receive a tattoo anymore. (page 191)
- Headquarters of V.F.D. have been constructed by Lucky Smells Lumbermill using special "emerald lumber". (page 170)
|A Series of Unfortunate Events|
|Function||compiled evidence against Count Olaf|
|First appearance||The Hostile Hospital|
The Snicket File is an important file of documents from the A Series of Unfortunate Events children's series.
Suggested in The Slippery Slope to have been written by Jacques, Kit and Lemony Snicket, it is first mentioned in The Hostile Hospital, in which it is also referred to as the Baudelaire file. Count Olaf wants to obtain and destroy it because it supposedly has enough evidence to put him and his associates in jail. The Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire also want the file, believing it to contain information about themselves and the whereabouts of a possible survivor of the fire that destroyed their family home.
The Snicket File has thirteen pages and is said to contain charts, maps, photographs, and useful information It has also been described by characters in the series as "the file about the Snicket fires" and "the Baudelaire file". The thirteenth page features a photograph of Jacques Snicket, a man facing away from the camera (who is probably Lemony Snicket), and Mr. and Mrs. Baudelaire (and, out of sight, the photographer) standing in front of 667 Dark Avenue in cold weather, accompanied by the text "Because of the evidence discussed on page nine, experts now suspect that there may in fact be one survivor of the fire, but the survivor's whereabouts are unknown."
The contents of page nine, and the rest of the pages of the file (with the possible exception of one page of Lemony Snicket's planned opening sentences for The Bad Beginning, which was instructed to be placed in the Baudelaire file), are unknown, as is whether the fire referenced is the one which destroyed the Baudelaire home, or that which destroyed the Quagmire home, or indeed any one of a number of other fires associated with the V.F.D.
In The End, Snicket writes: "Kit Snicket's story of the Great Unknown made the Baudelaires see at last that their parents had gone forever into the great unknown, and that they would be orphans forever, too." This implies that after The End the Baudelaires are pretty sure that their parents have died in the fire and probably correct in believing so.
After learning from the keeper of the Library of Records at Heimlich Hospital, Hal, that there is information about themselves in "the file about the Snicket fires", the Baudelaire orphans attempt to retrieve the file from the hospital's Library of Records. However, they only retrieve the last page - page 13 - which was accidentally left behind when the rest was removed for an official investigation of unknown nature. The Baudelaires interpret the page they obtain as indicating that one of their parents survived the fire that supposedly killed them, and this knowledge motivates them until The Slippery Slope.
In The Slippery Slope, Count Olaf is given the Snicket File by the man with a beard but no hair and the woman with hair but no beard, in reward for having burnt down Caligari Carnival. These three, along with Esmé Squalor retreat into his tent to read it and discuss its contents - sending away his associates, who he did not want to learn the file's secrets. The file is later revealed to name the location of the last safe place for V.F.D. Afterwards, it vanishes from the narrative and does not appear again; it is assumed to either still be in Count Olaf's possession or to have been destroyed as he intended. It has no significance to the story after these events occur; in The Grim Grotto, Snicket writes that "For quite some time, the Baudelaires had thought [the Snicket File] meant that one of their parents was alive after all, but now they were almost certain it meant no such thing." The survivor referred to in page thirteen of the Snicket File found by Klaus in The Hostile Hospital was actually Quigley Quagmire (first mentioned in The Austere Academy, but first physically appearing in The Slippery Slope) making it highly unlikely for the Baudelaires that one of their parents is still alive. It is possible that the "important pieces of paper" blowing around in the Hinterlands, as mentioned by Lemony Snicket in The Grim Grotto were the Snicket file. Or, the papers could have been pages from the Quagmire notebooks, which were ripped apart by a harpoon gun in The Vile Village.
Throughout the books, a variety of codes are used by individuals working for or against the organization.
The "Sebald Code" is first mentioned in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, attributed to Dr. Gustav Sebald, and was usually used to communicate messages through Dr. Sebald's movies. When a ring is mentioned (in any form of said word), the code is activated. The first word after the ring is in code, as is every eleventh word thereafter. When the ring is said again, the code ends. A typical scene from a film might go like this:
- (Doorbell rings)
- Gertrude: This is quite a surprise! Please do come in, Robert!
- Robert: How is Ebenezer doing?
- Gertrude: He is very ill. I have given him an injection hourly.
- Robert: That's a shame. He once was a perfect example of good health.
- Gertrude: Yes, for comfort he examines old photos of when he was healthier. We have been to see Doctor Sebald, but it seemed rather like he was just talking in code.
- (Alarm clock rings)
- Gertrude: He must need another pill. Coming, Ebenezer!
- (All leave)
In this case, the hidden message is "This is an example of Sebald code". The code relies on the actors speaking the words perfectly, and on the viewer being able to notice the scene. In The Unauthorized Autobiography, the movie Zombies in the Snow, Werewolves in the Rain, and wedding invitations from the Vineyard of Fragrant Drapes feature the Sebald code, although the only instance in the main series is on page 67 of The Penultimate Peril. Either Frank or Ernest used it when speaking to the Baudelaires. The message was "I can't tell if you are associates or enemies. Please respond". Though this message was suspected to be "I can't tell if you are in or enemies. Please respond", a number within one of the sentences needs to be skipped rather than counted as a word to get the correct message.
The Nameless Novel, a promotional website for Book the Twelfth of the series, presented an excerpt from the Sebald movie Ants in the Fruit Salad that used the Sebald code. In The Reptile Room, Uncle Monty took Violet Baudelaire, Klaus Baudelaire, and Sunny Baudelaire to see the film Zombies in the Snow.
In The Reptile Room, the same book as mentioned as above, Uncle Monty's death could be attributed to the fact that he never learned Sebald code, as Lemony Snicket claims. In the novel, Dr. Montgomery watched the Sebald movie Zombies in the Snow, which warned him that his new assistant was a traitor, but it is suggested that Uncle Monty did not understand the code. Sebald himself is presumed dead, and his estate is being handled by his sister, Sally Sebald. Doctor Montgomery Montgomery was killed by Count Olaf with snake venom.
The code was recognizable because Aunt Josephine was known to take a heavy interest in grammar. Klaus soon realized that there were many grammatical and spelling mistakes in the text of her letter, The message is formed by the letters or punctuation that should be there. For example:
- Coded Statement: I saw a kat today. It was so udd that I thought, "I've better take a picture of this filine."
- Corrected Statement: I saw a cat today. It was so odd that I thought, "I'd better take a picture of this feline."
So in this example, the coded message is "code".
Verbal Fridge Dialogue is a code whereby volunteers can contact others through the use of a refrigerator. It is noted in The Slippery Slope that it is used as an emergency communication. Fridges are used due to their contents having a high likelihood of surviving fires. These are few of the guidelines of the code:
- The recipient of the message will know that the code is being used by finding Very Fresh Dill in the fridge and his or her initials scraped into the top of the darkest jam. A poem is used in The Slippery Slope to explain:
- The darkest of the jams three,
- Contains within the addressee
- To represent days of the week for a gathering, a cured, fruit-based calendar is used. One olive means Sunday, two means Monday, etc.
- Any spice-based condiment will have an ingredients label referring to coded poems.
- While the entire code in The Slippery Slope is incomplete, Lemony Snicket indicates that one of the remaining ingredients in the instance of Verbal Fridge Dialogue in that book, a pickle, was to be used inside a coded sandwich. The other remaining ingredient, lemon juice, also hints at Lemony's role in the code.
(See also List of VFDs.)
In The Vile Village, Isadora and Duncan Quagmire use a code within couplets to send a message to the Baudelaires about their location. It is necessary to say that Isadora and Duncan are members. It is possible that Duncan and Isadora learned about some of the V.F.D codes when they were kidnapped by Count Olaf. In The Vile Village, Isadora wrote four couplets:
- For sapphires we are held in here
- Only you can end our fear.
- Until dawn comes we cannot speak
- No words can come from this sad beak.
- The first thing you read contains the clue:
- An initial way to speak to you.
- Inside these letters the eye will see
- Nearby are your friends, and V.F.D.
The first letters of each line spell out “FOUNTAIN”, referring to Fowl Fountain where they were held hostage by Count Olaf. They sent the messages by tying them to the feet of crows that flew from the fountain to the Nevermore Tree each night so the Baudelaires could find them without being caught by the village.
From the book Versed Furtive Discourse in the novel The Grim Grotto, the code Verse Fluctuation Declaration works using a piece of poetry; words in a poem that the communicator wishes to use as code are substituted for alternate words. The book gives the example that My Last Duchess by Robert Browning may instead be written as My Last Wife by Obert Browning; in this case, the coded message is "Duchess R". In The Grim Grotto, the orphans receive a Volunteer Factual Dispatch which is written in this code. There are two poems (Lewis Carroll's The Walrus and the Carpenter and T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land) that tell them that they must go a taxi that will be waiting at Briny Beach. (See also List of VFDs.)
In several of Lemony Snicket's books, most notably in The Hostile Hospital, anagrams are used by Count Olaf to disguise himself and his henchmen. Lemony Snicket also uses anagrams to hint that several plays written by a Mr. Al Funcoot were actually written by Count Olaf.
Some anagrams used are as follows: Al Funcoot (A disguise name used for Count Olaf when he wrote plays), Flacutono (A name used for Olaf's bald associate whenever he was disguised), O. Lucafont (A name given to Olaf's hook-handed associate whenever he was disguised), and Laura V. Bleediotie (A false name used for Violet when Olaf tried to pass her off as a hospital patient), Dr. Tocuna and Nurse Flo (A name originally meant for the two powder faced women, two of Olaf's assistants, but instead were used for Klaus and Sunny - both of the names put together form the anagram). (All of the names stated above are anagrams of Count Olaf, except Laura V. Bleediotie, which is an anagram of Violet Baudelaire)
A Vernacularly Fastened Door is a special lock used in V.F.D. meeting places. It contains a keyboard. To enter, a user must answer three questions, which are secret themselves, by typing the answers into the keyboard. Lemony Snicket explains that to do this, a volunteer must know a large amount of information. If they are correct, the door will open. The Vernacularly Fastened Door was first discovered by Violet Baudelaire, Klaus Baudelaire and Quigley Quagmire in The Slippery Slope.
Other codes or coded messages from the series are:
- "The world is quiet here" (V.F.D.'s motto), to be said in response to the phrase "I didn't realize this was a sad occasion." Also used as the password to access secret places.
- "Well, young lady, have you been good to your mother?", which should be responded to with "The question is, has she been good to me?"
- Mozart's 14th Symphony, whistled, is also referred to as a coded song.
- "If there's nothing out there, then what was that noise?" is used mostly during recruitment.
- A taxi driver showing you a picture of a baby also used during recruitment.
Locations with V.F.D. activity
The following is a list of locations with V.F.D. activity:
- Count Olaf's House (The Bad Beginning): The eye symbol appears all over the house; Count Olaf was a V.F.D. member, and later figured prominently as a leading "villain".
- Uncle Monty's House (The Reptile Room): Home to the famed Reptile Room, which housed V.F.D.'s supply of reptiles, some of which were trained to sense arson activity. It also contains a library of V.F.D. and reptile books. The reptiles were removed by the Herpetological Society; in The Slippery Slope, it was revealed that Olaf cheated a man (Bruce) out of the reptile collection, so they are now in Olaf's ownership ("except for one", which escapes Olaf's clutches and is possibly the Incredibly Deadly Viper, which appeared in The End). The reptiles' whereabouts are unknown, and the house was burned down. It had a secret passage to the Quagmire mansion. It was located in the countryside, on or near Lousy Lane.
- Aunt Josephine's House (The Wide Window): Before being destroyed during Hurricane Herman, it was located by the shores of Lake Lachrymose. In Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, it says that important documents are located in Ivan Lachrymose: Lake Explorer under someone's bed. A copy of this book is located under Aunt Josephine's bed.
- Lucky Smells Lumbermill (The Miserable Mill): The archives for the Daily Punctilio were kept nearby the lumbermill, although they were eventually destroyed. The lumbermill itself provided lumber for a number of buildings connected to V.F.D.
- Dr. Orwell's Office (The Miserable Mill): The office is shaped like an eye.
- Prufrock Preparatory School (The Austere Academy) Ms. K., who was Kit Snicket in disguise, taught at the school and recruited two children there upon being fired.
- 667 Dark Avenue (The Ersatz Elevator): It contains a secret passage which leads to the Baudelaire mansion. Jacques Snicket begged Jerome Squalor to purchase the apartment, most likely to protect the passageway. Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography states that there is a floor above the penthouse apartment. The book also implies that this location is important.
- Heimlich Hospital (The Hostile Hospital): The hospital's Library of Records is shown both in the text and in illustrations to contain documents pertinent to V.F.D.
- Caligari Carnival (The Carnivorous Carnival): The carnival is the home of Madame Lulu, who owns a V.F.D. disguise kit and an archival library containing numerous V.F.D.-related documents. It was mentioned that crucial evidence was hidden inside a figurine sold there, which was possibly a Snicket File.
- Mortmain Mountains (The Slippery Slope): The Valley of Four Drafts in the Mortmain Mountains was home of the V.F.D. Headquarters before it was burnt down. The sugar bowl was there at one point, although it was tossed out the window when the fire began. Several activities were conducted, including training, stargazing, and others. A cave in the mountains is home to a Vertical Flame Diversion, where one can climb to and from the headquarters, and for security, a Vernacularly Fastened Door, which only opens when certain passwords are entered. Several caves were home to Volunteer Feline Detectives, which were lions trained to smell smoke.
- Anwhistle Aquatics (The Grim Grotto): Anwhistle Aquatics was a marine research and rhetorical advice center run by a volunteer, Gregor Anwhistle, and built on top of the Gorgonian Grotto. The sugar bowl floated into the grotto, but was intercepted by an unknown individual before the Fiona and the Baudelaires could find it (Lemony Snicket stated in the book that a woman was above the children climbing out of the grotto). When the center was destroyed before the series began, the deadly Medusoid Mycelium was released into the grotto. Was burnt down by Fernald, or Hook Handed Man after he joined V.F.D.
- Hotel Denouement (The Penultimate Peril): The hotel was V.F.D.'s "last safe place". In one of the pictures in the book, there is an ornamental vase that eyes in a rotationally symmetric pattern There is a catalog of every villain, related objects, characters and incidents that is hidden in a secret building beneath the pond. It was home to Dewey Denouement and his brothers. According to Sunny, after it burned down "the last safe place is safe no more."
- Baudelaire Mansion: The home of Mr. and Mrs. Baudelaire, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire was burned down. The mansion has a passageway which connects it to 667 Dark Avenue. It was also made of the Lucky Smells Lumbermill's emerald lumber.
- Vineyard of Fragrant Drapes (Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography): The vineyard is a garden where marriages are held. Sometimes disguises itself as the Vineyard of Fragrant Grapes. Communications using V.F.D. codes have been sent from there.
- Daedalus Dock (Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography): The Prospero is a ship for V.F.D. transport.
- Valorous Farms Dairy (Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography): A dairy where Lemony Snicket's birth took place.
- Café Salmonella (The Ersatz Elevator) and Anxious Clown (The Wide Window): Both restaurants employ waiters who may be part of V.F.D. It is stated in The Grim Grotto that Café Salmonella waiters are traitors, who destroyed V.F.D.'s fleet of smoke-sniffing salmon. This is also hinted in the Puzzling Puzzles. The objective on page 12 is to rewrite the words that are wrong in the article from the Daily Punctilio to get the message, "WAITERS ARE OFTEN IMPOSTERS. EAT CAREFULLY." At the anxious clown, Larry the waiter used a coded phrase.
- Opportune Odors Horseradish Factory (The Grim Grotto): The factory produced horseradish, the antidote to Medusoid Mycelium, and was built by Lucky Smells Lumbermill.
- "Olaf-Land" (The End): It is situated in the global currents, which cause it to collect various debris, including survivors of shipwrecks. Members of V.F.D., including the Baudelaire parents, attempted to create a safe Utopian society on its soil, but were prevented. There were once plans to build a tunnel from there to Anwhistle Aquatics.
Some of the animals used for the benefit of V.F.D. members include:
- Snakes/Reptiles - The Reptile Room. Uncle Monty used them for his studies, but the Mamba Du Mal supposedly killed Monty right before he where to take the Baudelaire orphans to a distant country, although it was really Count Olaf (Stephano)who injected him with the venom.
- Leeches - The Wide Window. After eating, Aunt Josephine went onto the lake with Count Olaf (in disguise of course) and the children and was possibly (since it never actually directly says she dies, and the book also states that she was a fiercely strong swimmer) killed by the leeches when Count Olaf pushed her off the boat, which actually helped Count Olaf.
- Crows - The Vile Village. They were used to help Isadora and Duncan Quagmires connect with the Baudelaires, while the Quagmires were trapped inside a giant crow fountain.
- Lions - The Carnivorous Carnival. When Madame Lulu helped Olaf get the lions, they were deprived of food and became vicious and savage. Violet and Klaus were almost fed to the lions, but Madame Lulu and the bald man with the long nose fell in instead.
- Eagles - The Slippery Slope. The man with a beard but no hair and the woman with hair but no beard use them to kidnap the Snow Scouts and to attack the Quagmires and Hector.
List of V.F.D.s
The organization V.F.D. often uses the initialism "V.F.D." for events, projects, practices, objects, individuals, ideas, or other facets that characterize the larger organization itself. It is uncertain why such a multitude of meanings is employed for the initials, although it likely used to tip off V.F.D. members to the presence of fellow members or of V.F.D.-related activities, or perhaps to confuse outsiders as to the meaning of the true name of the organization itself.
- Vain Fat Dictator (p. 82, SS)
- Valley of Four Drafts
- Valorous Farms Dairy
- Vapporatto of Favorite Detritus
- Various Finery Disguises (Phase Two of Disguise Kit, CC and LSUA)
- Veiled Facial Disguises (Phase Three of Disguise Kit, CC)
- Venom Feels Delightful Press (p. 167, LSUA)
- Verbal Fridge Dialogue
- Verdant Flammable Devices (p. SS)
- Verifying Fernald's Defection (p. 220, GG)
- An article from the Daily Punctilio which states that Fernald was responsible for burning down Anwhistle Aquatics.
- Veritable French Diner (repeatedly in LSUA)
- Vernacularly Fastened Door
- Verse Fluctuation Declaration (p. 157, GG)
- Versed Furtive Disclosure (p. 153, GG)
- The book Klaus finds in the Gorgonian Grotto.
- Vertical Flame Diversion (SS, GG)
- Very False Documents Press (p. 162, LSUA)
- The publishing company which published Ivan Lachrymose: Lake Explorer, by Vincent Francis Doyle.
- Very Fancy Doilies (throughout EE, invented as a red herring)
- Very Fancy Doily Press (p. 164, LSUA)
- Very Fascinating Drama (p. 80, SS)
- Very Fast Delivery (p. 204, LSUA)
- Very Fine Dramatists
- Very Flavorless Diet (p. 102, TE)
- Klaus invents this meaning as a joke. It refers to the raw fish and seaweed diet they have to eat which is very flavorless indeed.
- Very Fresh Dill(type of herb)
- Very Frightening Danger (p. v, LSUA)
- Under the copyright in the Autobiography, Snicket says:
"If you recognize yourself in any of the photographs or illustrations in this book you may find yourself in Very Frightening Danger and/or slightly embarrassed but there is nothing you can do about it."
- Very Fun Day (p. 81, SS)
- Vessel For Disaccharides
- Village of Fowl Devotees (VV)
- Vincent Francis Doyle (p. 162, LSUA)
- The author of Ivan Lachrymose: Lake Explorer.
- Vinegar-Flavored Doughnuts (p. 81, SS)
- Vineyard of Fragrant Drapes
- Vineyard's Famous Donkeys (in the Autobiography, they are mentioned in the Vineyard of Fragrant Drapes. Also mentioned in p. 202 CC)
- Violent Frozen Dragonflies (p. 81, SS)
- Violet's Fifteenth Date (p. 249, GG; "date" meaning "birthday")
- Vision Furthering Devices (throughout The Penultimate Peril)
- Visitable Fungal Ditches (p. 102, GG)
- Vital Fan Disclosure (If you send an e-mail to Lemony Snicket, you will receive an "Out of Office AutoReply" that is apparently mailed to you by: Anonymous Representative HarperCollins Publishers Department of Vital Fan Disclosure).
- Voice Fakery Disguises (CC)
- Volatile Fungus Deportation (throughout GG)
- Voluntary Fish Domestication (p. 98, GG)
- Volunteer Factual Dispatches (throughout GG)
- Volunteer Feline Detectives
- Volunteer Fire Department
- Volunteers Fighting Disease (throughout HH)
- Voracious Fierce Dragon (p. 82, SS)
- Voracious Film Discussion Press (p. 165, LSUA)
- This company published I Lost Something at the Movies by Lena Pukalie.
- Very Flammable Detergent (indirectly mentioned in PP, pg. 323)
- Snicket, Lemony. "Enquiring Enquiries". A Series of Unfortunate Events.com. Retrieved February 7, 2010.
- p. 158, The Carnivorous Carnival
- p. 71, The Hostile Hospital; pp. 99, 107–108, 126–127, 188, 221–222, 225–226, The Grim Grotto; pp. 35, 178–182, 188, 190, The Penultimate Peril; etc.
- p. 168, The Slippery Slope
- p. 231, The Slippery Slope
- p. 68, The Slippery Slope
- p. 188, The Grim Grotto
- p. 311, The Slippery Slope
- p. 120, The Grim Grotto
- p. 180, The Penultimate Peril
- p. 99, The Grim Grotto
- p. 54, The Grim Grotto
- p. 319, The Slippery Slope
- p. 47, The Grim Grotto
- p. 6, The Penultimate Peril