Search My Blog

October 4, 2010

Burning down the house

My brother-in-law is a fireman and I can't wait to run this story by him. Imagine that your house is on fire, the fire department refuses to show up and when they do arrive, they put out your neighbors house and then leave- with your house still on fire. This isn't fiction, and it happened in a small town in Obion COunty Tennessee last weekend. I read about it on ThinkProgress.com as I was reading the hatred some people in this country have towards anyone who isn't a liberal.

There is more to this story however, and it wasn't very well laid out on TP. The county of Obion does not have a fire department, as voted on by its citizens many years ago. In exchange, they do not pay taxes on that service. Seems crazy, doesn't it? However, the city of South Fulton, just outside Obion County on the Kentucky border, offers fire protection services for a measly $75 a year. Gene Cranick and his wife Paulette declined the services, again, this year and as fate would have it their house caught fire.

The Cranicks called for help and the fire department in essence told them, "Sorry, not on the list." In fact, the fire was blazing out of control and caught a neighbors house on fire, who was on the list, and the firemen promptly showed up, put the fire out and promptly left. The Crankicks were pleading with the firemen to save their house and that they would pay anything.  Reporters asked the Fire Chief why they wouldn't save the house and he declined to comment. The mayor of South Fulton had this to say:
"Anybody that's not in the city of South Fulton, it's a service we offer, either they accept it or they don't," Mayor David Crocker said.
Mayor Crocker juxtaposed their fire protection with car insurance. You woulnd't expect an insurance company to pay for a car if the policy had lapsed and you shouldn't expect someone to put out your housefire if you didn't pay for the fire protection. I agree- sort of.

The Cranicks didn't pay and therefore forfeit fire protection. Why anyone in their right mind would pay a measly $75 a year is ridiculous but it is what the citizens of Obion County voted for. What really strikes at the core of the Cranicks decision not to pay is the reason why:
"I thought they'd come out and put it out, even if you hadn't paid your $75, but I was wrong," said Gene Cranick.
He believes he is entitled to the fire protection even though he doesn't want to pay for it. The reality is that it costs money to run a fire department and the $75 yearly fee helps the stations stay maintained and the crews trained. The Cranicks gambled and lost- everything.

However, I do beleive the Mayor and Fire Chief should allow for an on-the-spot payment just for these situations. If they do not want to make the yearly fee and a call is made for a fire response then the homeowner can pay- dearly. If you lose the gamble and your house catches on fire then you will pay a premium fee- $2000, $5000, whatever is decided on.

That seems a little more fair and a little less heartless.

1 comment:

  1. I'd also be interested in hearing Scott's thoughts on this situation. I know Bob and I disagree pretty strongly.

    If the fire department puts out the house fire for a family who have chosen not to pay the $75 fee, why would any citizens pay it? As to the suggestion that the fire dept take an 'on the spot' payment when they answer the call, what if the family wasn't home when the fire happened? Or the family didn't have $75 handy?

    These people knew there was a fee - they didn't pay it last year, either - and the fire department did a one time waiver for them. So rather than simply fork over the $75 this year, they just assumed the fire dept would waive the fee again - well, not so much.

    I'd imagine it had to be very difficult for the fire fighters to put out the fire next door and not the original house's fire - That's not their training.

    Can't wait to hear Scott's take on it.

    ReplyDelete