Video: Firefighters let home burn to the ground because owner didn’t pay annual $75 fee

posted at 9:24 pm on October 4, 2010 by Allahpundit

Via Dan Foster, who looks upon the libertarian paradise and shivers.

Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.

The mayor said if homeowners don’t pay, they’re out of luck…

“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.

Because of that, not much is left of Cranick’s house…

The Cranicks told 9-1-1 they would pay firefighters, whatever the cost, to stop the fire before it spread to their house…

It was only when a neighbor’s field caught fire, a neighbor who had paid the county fire service fee, that the department responded. Gene Cranick asked the fire chief to make an exception and save his home, the chief wouldn’t.

I’m guessing 95 percent of our commenters will say, “Right on, let it burn. A contract’s a contract!” And yet 95 percent of those same people, upon finding themselves at the scene with a hose and a truck full of water, would have done the moral thing and tried to put it out notwithstanding the free-rider problem created by the Cranicks. That’s America’s health-care dynamic in a nutshell, no? No one’s getting turned away from the ER, even if they can’t afford to pay; thus, we need a mandate to force everyone to pay up front in order to shrink the pool of free-riders and help absorb the costs of those left in the pool. Which is to say, why not simply levy a $75 tax on everyone to force them to pay for fire coverage? Or, as Foster notes, if they’re willing to pay anything once the fire’s consuming their house, why not let them opt in after the fact for a vastly increased fee? It would have to be many times larger than the $75 service charge, obviously, partly in order to deter others from opting in after the fact and partly because the service charge helps cover the fire department’s expenses going forward. If everyone opted out of the service charge on the assumption that they’d pay the larger after-the-fact fee if/when a fire broke out at home, the department would start the year with zero funds; but if the after-the-fact fee was large enough, some of the surplus revenue generated could be carried over from one year to the next so that there’d always be funding for operations. There must be some amount large enough that the after-the-fact fee would make putting out the fire the efficient, cost-effective choice for the department. The question is, is it so large that realistically no one could afford to pay it? Exit question: Admit it, you’d try to put the fire out. Wouldn’t you?

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I’m guessing 95 percent of our commenters will say, “Right on, let it burn. A contract’s a contract!” And yet 95 percent of those same people, upon finding themselves at the scene with a hose and a truck full of water, would have done the moral thing and tried to put it out notwithstanding the free-rider problem created by the Cranicks.

Nailed it

Aquateen Hungerforce on October 4, 2010 at 9:27 PM

but if the after-the-fact fee was large enough, some of the surplus revenue generated could be carried over from one year to the next so that there’d always be funding for operations.

Talk about perverse incentives.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:27 PM

I’m guessing 95 percent of our commenters will say, “Right on, let it burn. A contract’s a contract!”

I would not be one of those people.

I think it was unconscionable to let their home burn over such a paltry amount…especially when the homeowner was willing to pay whatever they wanted for their help.

Pathetic.

powerpro on October 4, 2010 at 9:28 PM

We’re doomed. I despair completely at the sheer inhumanity that my fellow citizens are capable – if not eager – to show to one another.

This is so infuriating; I don’t give a f@#$ what the rule was, who had paid, who hadn’t, HUMANS – CIVILIZED HUMANS – don’t f@#$ing behave this way.

God help us.

Midas on October 4, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Hell to the naw!!! The only way I’d pay that $75 fee would be if I didn’t pay any sort of state/local taxes. F that.

SouthernGent on October 4, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Tragic.

What if someone was inside?

aquaviva on October 4, 2010 at 9:29 PM

try to put the fire out and if the guy who didn’t pay stops you….okay bub…we tried.

ted c on October 4, 2010 at 9:29 PM

You know, part of our platform is you are responsible for your own decisions. It’s called Fire Service for a reason.

HotAirExpert on October 4, 2010 at 9:29 PM

Perhaps the firefighters did act like jerks, but they were still within their rights due to contract breach.

doodleduh on October 4, 2010 at 9:30 PM

If it were put out for free, there would be no subscribers since everyone would figure they get a free ride, and the fire fighting company would go out of business. That wouldn’t do the community much good. Paying on the spot wouldn’t work either because the fire fighters would only obtain revenue during a fire. It would cost a lot more than 75 bucks to put it out. The people were cheap and paid the price, so to speak.

NNtrancer on October 4, 2010 at 9:31 PM

I would do anything I could to help put out the fire. I hope they were able to afford homeowners insurance. I wonder what the citizens in that area pay in taxes?

Cindy Munford on October 4, 2010 at 9:31 PM

I wonder if they had fire insurance? If so, how will this play out?

Electrongod on October 4, 2010 at 9:31 PM

So…is getting your house fire put out a ‘right’?

MayBee on October 4, 2010 at 9:31 PM

By the way, if there were people or pets in danger, of course they should be rescued.

NNtrancer on October 4, 2010 at 9:32 PM

The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire!

Christien on October 4, 2010 at 9:32 PM

Midas on October 4, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Yeah, I mean why don’t we use federal dollars to pay for everyone who has cancer/diabetes/chronic illness/mental disabilities/etc…?

We are CIVILIZED HUMANS!!! How can we stand by and let these people suffer, no matter the cost!

Aquateen Hungerforce on October 4, 2010 at 9:32 PM

Exit question: Admit it, you’d try to put the fire out. Wouldn’t you?

Of course. I’d give them holy hell afterward, but I couldn’t just stand there and let their house burn down.

Kensington on October 4, 2010 at 9:32 PM

So let me get this straight. The town lets this guy’s house burn down because he didn’t pay the $75 fee. So what’s the property worth now and how much is the city going to lose on his property taxes? So who’s getting hosed now?

chickasaw42 on October 4, 2010 at 9:33 PM

Would it be moral to put the fire out? Why would anyone pay the $75 if they had? Then there is no funding for the fire department and even responsible individuals would be without service (or the law would change).

The firefighters did the right thing, not the easy thing, but the right thing.

jhffmn on October 4, 2010 at 9:33 PM

The firefighters were wrong. The guy offered to pay up, he had learned his lesson. Comparing that incident to paying for the health care of millions of people who could probably afford it is wrong too.

echosyst on October 4, 2010 at 9:34 PM

I’m guessing 95 percent of our commenters will say, “Right on, let it burn. A contract’s a contract!”

Well, yeah. It’s not like he didn’t know about it, he was fully aware of what was required and decided to take a risk. On the other hand, to not put it out after he offered to pay the cost was just sleazy.

clearbluesky on October 4, 2010 at 9:34 PM

Which is to say, why not simply levy a $75 tax on everyone to force them to pay for fire coverage?

Or, maybe a system where your property taxes pay for basic services like sewer and water and stuff. Wow. Civilization is nice.

It’s not really an analog to health insurance though. As much as you pretend it to be.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:34 PM

Exit question: Admit it, you’d try to put the fire out. Wouldn’t you?

Of course, but then there should still be some sort of consequence for neglecting their own obligations. If not, what are you saying to those who understood their responsibility and paid the fee? Actually, in addition to your healthcare analogy, if you’ve been watching what’s been happening in the mortgage industry in the last week or so, you also find similar dynamics at play.

Weight of Glory on October 4, 2010 at 9:34 PM

Softball, AP. What each of us would do with his own resources is one matter. What we’d demand that the state do, at others’ expense and as a question of enforceable policy, is another.

We wouldn’t all give the same answer to either question. Therein lies the source of an endless refrain of moral triumphalism from both sides.

The best hope of preventing the impulse to put your neighbor’s fire out from turning into a national-ideological principle of statism is to keep government limited, constitutional, and federal. The impulse belongs in local politics, where everyone knows your Mom and Dad and you can’t put on airs. Our big problem is that the impulse keeps getting bumped up to the level of state and national government, and being applied to a bunch of stuff government shouldn’t be mucking around in.

J.E. Dyer on October 4, 2010 at 9:34 PM

Hell to the naw!!! The only way I’d pay that $75 fee would be if I didn’t pay any sort of state/local taxes. F that.

SouthernGent on October 4, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Maybe you should pay closer attention. It was the city fire department. He did not live in the city. He had the opportunity to pay $75.00 per year for fire service. He rolled the dice and lost.

I would think the difference in insurance rates with fire service versus without fire service would be greater than $75.00 a year.

NoNails on October 4, 2010 at 9:34 PM

I should start my own fire fighting service there and charge $50 and make those guys look like chumps

clement on October 4, 2010 at 9:34 PM

This is crazy. Someone’s house is burning! My goodness. What a stupid policy this county has.

terryannonline on October 4, 2010 at 9:35 PM

So…is getting your house fire put out a ‘right’?

MayBee on October 4, 2010 at 9:31 PM

You’d think the city has a vested interest in not letting the entire city burn to the ground. Hoping that eventually a home who had paid $75 gets hit with the fire.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:35 PM

Is this something new? I’ve never heard of paying a fee for firemen to put out a house fire. Kinda has my feeble mind boggled.

It’s like paying a yearly fee for 9-1-1 service, and if you didn’t, they won’t help you.

And would the firemen have just stood by if there were people/kids still trapped in the house? Seems like there are a lot of “if’s” to consider.

JetBoy on October 4, 2010 at 9:35 PM

Eh, Ok.

I had held firefighters in High regard, now they get to go in the bin with Policemen and Judges.

Screw you all, I don’t need or want any of you.

MadDogF on October 4, 2010 at 9:35 PM

WTF are you paying taxes for if not for police and fire? They try this sort of extortion even here in MA.

These vindictive MFers will let your house burn down over $75 and yet they’ll put Obama’s illegal immigrant into public housing and give her a check every month. They’ll payoff all their buddies who bet on the housing crash with your money and let your house burn down. They’ll payoff the autunions with your money and let you MFing house burn down over $75!!!

I’ll gladly make all my own arrangements including police, if I don’t have to pay a penny in state and local taxes.

TheBigOldDog on October 4, 2010 at 9:36 PM

God damn, I’m proud of the commentators here.

doodleduh on October 4, 2010 at 9:36 PM

I am sort of siding with the Fire Department. This is a metaphor of ObamaCare.

Wait till your house is on fire, only then will you want to buy that Fire Protection insurance.

Wait till you or your kids are in the hospital, only then will you want to buy that Health Protection insurance.

WoosterOh on October 4, 2010 at 9:36 PM

My dad and his brother were fire fighters, and I can say without a doubt they would have put it out, even if it cost them their jobs.

Where is the volunteer fire dept. in this town? That’s how we took care of each other for a long, long time…

gaius on October 4, 2010 at 9:36 PM

Hey Allah! This new moderation deal HotAir has going on, is it going to improve with time? If this is as good as it gets, it’s going to be a hot mess on election night. Sooooo sloooow.

Cindy Munford on October 4, 2010 at 9:36 PM

I wonder if he’d be covered as a pre-existing condtion under Obama Fire Care?

The left is saying this is a failure of free markets http://thinkprogress.org/2010/10/04/county-firefighters-subscription/

But if anything it’s the failure of Government yet again. It’s the near-by municipality’s fire department that the rural follks are paying a usage fee to. If it had been a private contract and not a government monopoly they would have had that fire put out even if a bill would be sent for the service after the fact.

Think Progress fails yet again.

coondawg on October 4, 2010 at 9:37 PM

Put the fires out, you jerks. Jeez.

Philly on October 4, 2010 at 9:37 PM

Did they have homeowners insurance?

TN Mom on October 4, 2010 at 9:37 PM

The real tragedy here is the man’s children are probably suffering horribly right now but all of their pillows have burned and he has no way to alleviate their suffering.

Oh the humanity!

Lily on October 4, 2010 at 9:38 PM

As a volunteer firefighter I can say that there is some historic precedence for this, though it used to be controlled by the insurance companies not the municipalities.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_insurance_marks

I can say without reservation that in the town I volunteer in, the firefighters would show up on their own & do their best without their equipment if that were the case.

clancy_wiggum on October 4, 2010 at 9:38 PM

Here’s the problem with this incident. Say you are underwater in your mortgage, so you decide to burn your house down. You pay your insurance, but you simply don’t pay the fire company.

Gas, match, viola! House burns to the ground, and since the firefighters don’t respond, your house will burn to ashes and so will the evidence of any crime.

Thanks to the stupidity of a municipality, the homeowner wins.

If they were smart, logical, or just normal, they would put the fire out, and fine you for using city services and not paying the annual fee. Basically, like many fire companies bill commercial property for fighting the fire, the homeowner would get the same bill.

Sorry, this town or county is stupid.

Vincenzo on October 4, 2010 at 9:39 PM

Bet’s on these being unionized fire non-fighters.

Jim708 on October 4, 2010 at 9:39 PM

Is this something new? I’ve never heard of paying a fee for firemen to put out a house fire. Kinda has my feeble mind boggled.

Wait till you need an ambulance someday JetBoy, not only do you already pay taxes for that service, but most cities will charge you a fee on top of those taxes.

clearbluesky on October 4, 2010 at 9:39 PM

some of you arent fully aware of the facts. this was NOT in the city. it was out of city limits. the city decided to offer people in taht area the opportunity to buy coverage. imagine you lived in the city and the FD was responding to this freeloader and your house burned because he was co-opting resources you had paid for.

this guy is out of city limits so not paying taxes to pay for FD, get your facts straight people

chasdal on October 4, 2010 at 9:39 PM

Maybe you should pay closer attention. It was the city fire department. He did not live in the city. He had the opportunity to pay $75.00 per year for fire service. He rolled the dice and lost.

I would think the difference in insurance rates with fire service versus without fire service would be greater than $75.00 a year.

NoNails on October 4, 2010 at 9:34 PM

I paid attention. I’m sure their county property taxes were way more than $75. Does the city gets funds from the county for the fire department? For anything?

SouthernGent on October 4, 2010 at 9:40 PM

A caller on Roger Hedgecock’s show tonight expressed the same thought I had. Fight the fire, then bill the homeowner for the full cost (which would be a heckuva lot more than $75). If they fail to pay that, put a lien on the property.

Left Coast Right Mind on October 4, 2010 at 9:40 PM

So who’s getting hosed now?

chickasaw42

No kidding, lots of that going around with the ‘cut off your nose to spite your face’ government bureaucrat crowd.

gaius on October 4, 2010 at 9:40 PM

In a free market, of course the profit motive would have led the firefighters to accept Mr. Cranick’s offer of a premium payment to save his home. The fact that there was no profit motive, and these people were merely following the officious bureaucratic policy of a city government that instituted a user fee is what cost the Cranick’s their home.

Make no mistake, whether it’s user fees for city services or government-run health care or carbon ‘markets’, the outward appearance of a market doesn’t make up for the lack of a truly functioning free market with real supply and demand, and profit motive. Rather than contracting with South Fulton, Obion County would do well to look for some sort of private firefighting firm to provide this service.

Inkblots on October 4, 2010 at 9:40 PM

Wait till your house is on fire, only then will you want to buy that Fire Protection insurance.

Wait till you or your kids are in the hospital, only then will you want to buy that Health Protection insurance.

WoosterOh on October 4, 2010 at 9:36 PM

Fire protection insurance? You mean taxes I think. That’s what taxes are supposed to go toward. Fire departments. Police Departments. Schools. Roads. Not just welfare recipients, Unions and banks bailouts.

TheBigOldDog on October 4, 2010 at 9:41 PM

Many of you don’t seem to have read the article. The fire department is funded by the city and only in the last couple of years, through the $75 fee, extended service outside city limits. But for that voluntary program, fire dept services wouln’t exist outside city limits at all.

This whole kerfuffle may result in discontinuation of fire service outside city limit entirely. Or the rural residences can fund their own fire department.

dts-01 on October 4, 2010 at 9:41 PM

Watch the video. The guy was burning trash in those barrels and started the fire himself. First off. He’s an idiot for starting the fire.

He probably would be arrested here for starting the fire and then billed for the cost of the fire crews coming out to put it all out.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:41 PM

Someone could have been in there.

Firefighters took a real gamble on that one.

blatantblue on October 4, 2010 at 9:42 PM

It’s not really an analog to health insurance though. As much as you pretend it to be.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:34 PM

Maybe if you equate it with young people who could get health insurance but decide not to because it would cramp their discretionary income and “nothing is going to happen to me”.

Cindy Munford on October 4, 2010 at 9:43 PM

If the meth addicts & criminals don’t pay an upfront fee, do they refuse to arrest them?

TN Mom on October 4, 2010 at 9:43 PM

You know, part of our platform is you are responsible for your own decisions. It’s called Fire Service for a reason.

HotAirExpert on October 4, 2010 at 9:29 PM

Ya, the same reason they call it property taxes. Payroll taxes. Excise taxes. Sales taxes. We’ll leave the fees out of it for the moment.

TheBigOldDog on October 4, 2010 at 9:44 PM

Oh, my, this is what we’ve come to? Self-righteousness is a disgusting thing. No compassion for those who have not paid for it? What a horrible community! Perhaps they would have been even happier if a child had been trapped. Look at the little guy at the window, doesn’t he scream well!

Mae on October 4, 2010 at 9:44 PM

Exit question: Admit it, you’d try to put the fire out. Wouldn’t you?

Of course. And I think this IS like the ED, where they take care of you in a life threatening emergency even if you don’t have a penny.

And would the firemen have just stood by if there were people/kids still trapped in the house? Seems like there are a lot of “if’s” to consider.

JetBoy on October 4, 2010 at 9:35 PM

Yeah, that really is the $64.00 $75.00 question.

*yawns* “Sorry yr kids died in the fire, NOW who wantsta pay $75.00? Sucker!”

inviolet on October 4, 2010 at 9:44 PM

This is absolutely deplorable! No where in the report did anyone mention anything about life safety. What if there are children in the home? Or pets? Or an invalid adult? Just let it burn? Despicable!!!

There are avenues available to the city to regain the money in the event the department needs to respond and payment hasn’t been made. These people never heard of a property lien? You can;t sell the property if there are any open liens. I’m sure there are property taxes in that county; they could impose a tax lien. They could confiscate from any local tax refunds. Something! This is crazy.

BKeyser on October 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Maybe use the model of sea-going salvage operations. The ship’s captain has to sign a contract before his ship (as opposed to the crew) is rescued, often a percentage of the value of the vessel and its cargo. The contracts are usually standard ones so the terms can be known ahead of time rather than having to read the fine print while your ship sinks. Same deal for homeowner: $75/year, or sign the contract when the fire department arrives.

Socratease on October 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Yea, I’d have put it out, but then totaled up the actual cost of the entire effort, added 50% to it and given them the bill for it.

michaelo on October 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM

I don’t give a crap! That’s just rotten!

ronsfi on October 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Watch the video. The guy was burning trash in those barrels and started the fire himself. First off. He’s an idiot for starting the fire.

He probably would be arrested here for starting the fire and then billed for the cost of the fire crews coming out to put it all out.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:41 PM

Ah, we only put out fires when they started by smart people. That should save lots of money.

TheBigOldDog on October 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM

This is an idiotic policy by Obion County. Fires in general are hazards to the population, and need to be dealt with swiftly, even in rural areas. If I had nearby property, and my stuff was burned by a small fire that picked up steam and got out of control, while the local fire department stood around and watched early on, I’d be on tear to take down some folks.

What kind of numb-nut voters that elected these officials do they have in Obion County?

Military, Law Enforcement, and Emergency Services. The 3 essential components of government that ALWAYS need to be fully taxed, fully funded, no questions asked.

HDFOB on October 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM

These ‘firefighters’ certainly appear to be very professional – at least in the same league as those firefighters last seen dragging their hoses past the 73rd floor of the World Trade Center…..And just before everything in their universe turned to shit…..

alwyr on October 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM

That’s awful.

Put out the fire and charge them the cost of putting out the fire but don’t let the house burn down.

I’m as conservative as the next person but there is such a thing as right/wrong and humanity.

All over $75 – yikes!

gophergirl on October 4, 2010 at 9:46 PM

The fire-fighters were not in a position to negotiate a fee. They follow orders. The town that operates the fire-fighting crews need to establish new rules that allow for a highly expensive after the fact enrollment. Just keep in mind that a desperate person is likely to promise the world regardless of whether they can actually pay that more expensive fee.

Jill1066 on October 4, 2010 at 9:46 PM

Rural/Metro Corp. runs private fire fighting companies all across the country. If you are in a subscription area and haven’t paid, they will still respond, but you will get a bill for the entire response. Depending on scope, it could be from 5-10K

azkenreid on October 4, 2010 at 9:47 PM

Cindy Munford on October 4, 2010 at 9:43 PM

Even without insurance, you can still purchase medical care from anywhere you want. If taken in aggregate, it’s probably cheaper (especially at a younger age) to do so.

With this sort of deal, you cannot. It might make sense to give the FD an option to let the person write them a $10,000 check on the spot and let them go to work. But the guy didn’t pay, he (most likely) started the fire. I really don’t have much sympathy for him here.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:47 PM

Wrong.
In the Town I grew up in, the fire dept. was completely volunteer. I guess times they are a changing.
I’m surprised they didn’t do something to try to stop the fire instead of just stand around and watch it though… that was kind of weird.

KMC1 on October 4, 2010 at 9:47 PM

So my grandmother’s burglar alarm, God rest her soul, went off last year accidentally, and the police showed up, even though we called to tell them not to worry about it.

She got a $100 bill in the mail for alarm response.

She lives in the city, her property taxes are over $6,000 a year on a 4 bedroom home, etc. etc.

Yet, you still have to pay for cops showing up. It’s insane. Not the police’s fault. It’s my moronic local government’s fault for mismanaging funds.

Vincenzo on October 4, 2010 at 9:47 PM

How long before we are all required to carry papers proving all our taxes are current around with us before the police, fire or ambulance will help us?

Unless we are illegal immigrants in which case, no questions will be asked.

TheBigOldDog on October 4, 2010 at 9:48 PM

It was only when a neighbor’s field caught fire, a neighbor who had paid the county fire service fee, that the department responded.

So, because the fire department refused to act, they endangered the property of one of the contract holders.

This is why fire service is not a private good, but a public good. If your neighbor’s house is burning, yours is next. The individual fee is asinine.

The same cannot be said of health care.

JSchuler on October 4, 2010 at 9:49 PM

Another thought: I wonder what his fire insurance company is going to do? Does the policy have anything requiring the owner to pay the yearly assessment, or are they going to be stuck with paying for all the damages regardless?

Socratease on October 4, 2010 at 9:49 PM

WTF? You know that taxes pay for fire service, right? At least EVERYWHERE that I have lived they do. I can’t watch the clip because the internet is so slow here tonight but tell me this is in Canada or somewhere “progressive” where unionized firemen come out and roast hotdogs over your burning home..

God help them if they needed my help in the future after that.

“Help! Help! I’m drowning!”

“Sure thing buddy, just as soon as you cut me a check”.

Guardian on October 4, 2010 at 9:49 PM

When I get called in the middle of the night by the ER for a hot appendix, and get told it’s a “self pay” patient (i.e., a freebie) boy would I love to turn over and go back to sleep.

Marcus on October 4, 2010 at 9:49 PM

Ah, we only put out fires when they started by smart people. That should save lots of money.

TheBigOldDog on October 4, 2010 at 9:45 PM

Of course not. But if you aren’t paying for fire services, it might be smart not to, you know, start a huge fire to burn trash in your backyard.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:49 PM

Good grief.

j_galt on October 4, 2010 at 9:49 PM

Of course you put out the fire. Contract or no contract. Geez.

princetrumpet on October 4, 2010 at 9:49 PM

I’m with Cindy

I think this Java enabled comment box will BE TEH SUK come election night

blatantblue on October 4, 2010 at 9:49 PM

I bet there’s a rush of people down at the firehouse paying their fee tomorrow. Let’s do an audit on them.

Fuquay Steve on October 4, 2010 at 9:50 PM

You know that taxes pay for fire service, right?

He lived in a different county. So, no, his taxes didn’t pay for the service.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:50 PM

That’s awful.

Put out the fire and charge them the cost of putting out the fire but don’t let the house burn down.

I’m as conservative as the next person but there is such a thing as right/wrong and humanity.

All over $75 – yikes!

gophergirl on October 4, 2010 at 9:46 PM

YUP.

Simple solution right there.

We’ll take the fire out, and make you pay 1000 dollars the next day.

blatantblue on October 4, 2010 at 9:50 PM

Of course not. But if you aren’t paying for fire services, it might be smart not to, you know, start a huge fire to burn trash in your backyard.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:49 PM

I didn’t realize fire departments or taxes were optional.

TheBigOldDog on October 4, 2010 at 9:51 PM

Golly, sure is a good thing that fires are always predictable. Yepper, they always burn in a predetermined manner, no matter the fuel load or prevailing weather conditions. For sure, absolutely none of the other homes could possibly have been impacted by a fire that destroys a home and spreads across a field to the property boundary. Thank God these firefighters share Superman’s x-ray vision and knew nobody was inside. I lost a friend in a fire because his parents greeted firefighters on the street and assured them they were the only ones home. In truth, he had walked home from an overnight high school in the middle of the night and gone to bed. He was an asthmatic and his inhaler stopped working.

There must be another way to levy or charge for the fire department coverage. As one who has lived in several towns with volunteer or small-town fire departments, they certainly need the funds. The county, town or village should see to this measly assessment, or add it to the county, village or town’s taxes.

jfshaughnessy on October 4, 2010 at 9:51 PM

Could this tragedy have been prevented when the fire was young? Maybe smothering with with a pillow?

Electrongod on October 4, 2010 at 9:52 PM

Um, from my experience with many friends in rural small volunteer fire depts, this isn’t all that different from what would happen in a non-profit organization.

To truly attack a fire you have to go in and run the hose to the base of the fire, or you have to run up ladders OVER the fire and drown it. Both are risky to life and equipment and it just isn’t worth it if no lives are at risk.

So if no one’s life is in danger, the rule is containment, and the house is counted as a loss.

Is anyone else’s experience different?

tlclark on October 4, 2010 at 9:52 PM

TheBigOldDog on October 4, 2010 at 9:51 PM

If you live in county B and fire services are provided by County A you might need to pay to have county A cover you. If county B does not. And not every county has a fire department.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:52 PM

Where is the volunteer fire dept. in this town?

That’s what I was wondering.

When people are no longer a community they become a collection of lawyers poring over documents. The problem with living in a libertarian paradise is that when we think along strictly libertarian lines we tend to atomise our existence – even non-political “collective” values offend us.

Some people have asked what would have happened if there were children or other people trapped inside the burning house but in that case the principle that “a contract is a contract” would still apply, would it not?

aengus on October 4, 2010 at 9:53 PM

The firefighters were wrong…

echosyst on October 4, 2010 at 9:34 PM

Not picking on you specifically, but no, they were not wrong.

Fire services do not spontaneously appear out of thin air. Those services cost a great deal of money, require unbelievable amounts of training, education, equipment – commitments that men and women spend their entire working lives achieving. In other words, it requires tremendous preparation to spring into action at a moment’s notice to protect lives and property. It is a commitment that communities make amongst themselves, and with surrounding communities.

Some communities have full time professional departments, some have volunteer departments. Some are funded by property taxes, some by fire district taxes. Most are public, some private. It is your responsibility to know what kind of services are provided before you move into an area. If you aren’t comfortable with the services, do not move there.

This is a necessary and proper application of government going all the way back to Benjamin Franklin.

Ultimately, you, the property owner, the citizen are responsible for understanding how services, be they fire, police, DPW, whatever, are dispensed within your municipality. Do you know if there are hydrants in your town? Do you even know what kind of fire service you have?

This is a case where The Little Red Hen meets the Big Red Fire Truck.

Having said that, help me pull that hose over there and lets try and put this fire out.

Then we can have a talk with the homeowner about civic responsibility.

turfmann on October 4, 2010 at 9:53 PM

He lived in a different county. So, no, his taxes didn’t pay for the service.

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:50 PM

First, the all pay State taxes and in states local cities and town get a piece of those taxes. Second, every city and town has a mutual assistance agreements for just such situations. Third, where was his county’s fire department? Since his taxes provide him with no fire department, shouldn’t he be getting back some of the taxes he’s probably been paying for years?

TheBigOldDog on October 4, 2010 at 9:54 PM

Is it just me or did you want to kick the firefighter in the news reel square in the shins?

Vincenzo on October 4, 2010 at 9:54 PM

The USA used to have lots of private fire companies, in fact long ago that was the norm. And this problem came up a lot. I suggest it was mainly BECAUSE of this situation that one of the first services picked up by local government and paid for by taxes was — the fire service. (That and the fact that local firemen in some urban companies used to stand around people’s frame houses smoking and commenting “Nice house. Shame if anything happened to it….”)

SunSword on October 4, 2010 at 9:55 PM

This is very similar to what is going to country or soon will. The fire is the coming insurrections when some realize that there freedoms are gone. The fire fighters are the government. And the homeowner are simple Americans. Once the fire has run its course that the government could have stopped they will come in and help the homeowners after the house is gone but blame the fire not the fighters.

Or something like this.

tjexcite on October 4, 2010 at 9:55 PM

I’m guessing 95 percent of our commenters will say, “Right on, let it burn. A contract’s a contract!”

I’m guessing you would be wrong. A firefighter worth his salt would not let a home be destroyed unnecessarily, contract or no.

This is pathetic.

hillbillyjim on October 4, 2010 at 9:55 PM

Sorry, but that is extremely effed up. While I agree that not paying the $75 was wrong, how you gonna stand there and let a man’s house burn down when it is within your means to stop it?

I get the whole “if they put out fires anyway whether or not you paid then there’s no incentive to pay” thing but I happen to believe that most people are inclined to do the right thing, which in this case is for citizens to pay the money up front, and for firefighters to put out fires.

Seriously, WTF.

WaltzingMtilda on October 4, 2010 at 9:55 PM

WTF?! How can something like this be legal?! I’m just…wow.

Emily M. on October 4, 2010 at 9:57 PM

lorien1973 on October 4, 2010 at 9:47 PM

You’re right, I was thinking more along the catastrophic side of health needs like an accident or sudden severe illness. Having lived through a minor kitchen fire, if I had been his neighbor I would have tried to help out. It’s been proven time and time again, stupid is expensive.

Cindy Munford on October 4, 2010 at 9:57 PM

Not all that complicated – the local government should have forced the homeowner to pay the tax/fee to support the local fire department. There’s no link to a national mandate to buy/provide health insurance to 300+million people living in tens of thousands of different communities.

Problem is that “progressives” not only want to tax for and provide a fire department, they want to tax for and provide “guidance” about whether you should be able to drink soda or buy a hamburger too.

Waters muddied by liberals and easily cleared with a little rationality.

And yes, I would have put the fire out.

peski on October 4, 2010 at 9:57 PM

And yet 95 percent of those same people … would have done the moral thing and tried to put it out notwithstanding the free-rider problem created by the Cranicks.

What did do “morally” as a nation before all the “legal government” freebees?

Oh yeah. In between the moral and the legal government we had the 60s.

Let’s all sit around the ghost fire, smoke pot, hold hands and sing kumbaya.

Who cares if someone’s house is burning down. He didn’t contribute to The Order.

BowHuntingTexas on October 4, 2010 at 9:57 PM

Midas on October 4, 2010 at 9:28 PM

Yeah, I mean why don’t we use federal dollars to pay for everyone who has cancer/diabetes/chronic illness/mental disabilities/etc…?

We are CIVILIZED HUMANS!!! How can we stand by and let these people suffer, no matter the cost!

Aquateen Hungerforce on October 4, 2010 at 9:32 PM

I hope the person that comes along when you or a family member are in danger hasn’t read your comments.

Family member being raped? Tough, they don’t have a right to assistance from someone else.

In a car wreck and bleeding to death? Sorry, no time for that, gotta be getting home so as not to miss a re-run of Seinfeld. And if the passerby bothers to call 911, their phone might lose it’s charge, so they’ll just skip that as well – you won’t mind, right? Besides, the fire dept and paramedics will be there eventually (though they may have to check and see if you’re paid up on your taxes before they do anything to help ya) – why should *I* stop?

Midas on October 4, 2010 at 9:58 PM

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