Coming to a Fire Dept Near You


Inquiring minds are reading an article on Yahoonews.com, “Rural Tennessee fire sparks conservative ideological debate“, and wondering when this new policy will make its debut in California:

Just about anything can be fodder for an ideological dispute these days. Just consider news of the recent fire at Gene Cranick’s home in Obion County, Tenn.

Here’s the short version of what happened: In rural Obion County, homeowners must pay $75 annually for fire protection services from the nearby city of South Fulton. If they don’t pay the fee and their home catches fire, tough luck — even if firefighters are positioned just outside the home with hoses at the ready.

Gene Cranick found this out the hard way.

When Cranick’s house caught fire last week, and he couldn’t contain the blaze with garden hoses, he called 911. During the emergency call, he offered to pay all expenses related to the Fire Department’s defense of his home, but the South Fulton firefighters refused to do anything.

It’s hard to feel too sad for the homeowner when you realize that he seems to confess his strategy. He knew he was, quite literally, wagering his house:

“I hadn’t paid my $75 and that’s what they want, $75, and they don’t care how much it burned down,” Gene Cranick told WPSD, an NBC affiliate in Kentucky. “I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong.”

This is a little silly considering modern banking and centralized billing procedures. It would be easy to have had everybody pay through local property taxes. However, two writers from National Review are on opposite sides. One’s comments make it very clear:

But Foster’s colleague Kevin Williamson took the opposite view. Cranick’s fellow residents in the rural stretches of Obion County had no fire protection until the county established the $75 fee in 1990. As Williamson explained: “The South Fulton fire department is being treated as though it has done something wrong, rather than having gone out of its way to make services available to people who did not have them before. The world is full of jerks, freeloaders, and ingrates — and the problems they create for themselves are their own. These free-riders have no more right to South Fulton’s firefighting services than people in Muleshoe, Texas, have to those of NYPD detectives.”

Due to the volatility of rural fires, it would seem that more precaution should be taken to prevent a catastrophic disaster from taking place.

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