Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Tennessee “Firefighters” let homeowner’s house burn. Why?

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, December 8, 2011

Perhaps an alternate title of this entry could be “Whoops… we screwed you… again, and again, and again.”

Why?

It’s not the first time it’s ever happened. In fact, it’s the third.

Last year, firefighters in Obion County Tennessee twice purposely REFUSED to attend to a housefire, and allowed the house to completely burn to the ground. It was nationally – even internationally -reported as a “no pay, no spray” issue.

Why?

The owners had not paid a $75 annual fee to the Volunteer Fire Department. Especially insulting was that the firefighters responded… not to attempt to extinguish the fire, but rather, to prevent fire from spreading to a neighboring house… whose owner had paid the fee.

Fast forward to December 2011.

Same song, third verse. Third verse same as the first.

Have people simply gone mad? Where’s their sense of humanity?!!

Be sure to read the stories from last year’s incident. I’m not certain why – or if – the Tennessee State Legislature dealt with that issue. If not, they should.

Fire Chief Doug McClanahan in neighboring Blount County had this to say about the issue:

As a firefighter you’re bound to say ‘I’m going to help people.’ If someone says you can’t do that, I don’t believe I could work for someone like that. The community looks to us to help them and all of a sudden we’re not helping them? Having subscribers is a good thing, but to punish people to the point that you don’t do anything for them is wrong.

Chief McClanahan said the Blount County Fire Protection District Board of Commissioners reconsidered the subscriber versus nonsubscriber issue last year after the first Obion County incident, and agreed to keep the same policy they’ve had for several years – to help whenever notified.

While as far as he knows there isn’t a law requiring a fire department to fight a fire, Chief McClanahan said firefighters have a moral obligation to their community.

It must take a lot of guts to be a firefighter with no conscience – especially in Obion County Tennessee.

No Fire Fee? Let Your House Burn!

By Sam Favate
December 7, 2011, 11:59 AM ET

Firefighters in Tennessee watched a home burn to the ground this week because the owners hadn’t paid a $75 annual fire protection subscription fee, MSNBC reports.

Firefighters responded when the home in Obion County, Tenn., caught fire, but didn’t extinguish it because the fee that the nearby town of South Fulton collects hadn’t been paid. Last year, another home — which also contained three dogs and a cat — in Obion County also burned to the ground for the same reason.

The South Fulton mayor, David Crocker, said the city makes no exceptions. “There’s no way to go to every fire and be able to keep up the manpower, the equipment, and just the funding for the fire department,” he said, according to MSNBC. Crocker also noted that firefighters will help people in danger, whether they have paid or not.

Nearby Blount County, Tenn., also has a subscription service, but the fire chief says the same situation wouldn’t happen there, according to The Daily Times. Blount County charges a $100 annual fee, but nonsubscribers can pay $2,200 for the first two hours firefighters respond to a scene, and $1,100 for each additional hour.

After last year’s fire, the Obion County commission voted to expand subscription-based service in the county, over the objections of people like fire chief Bob Reavis, who said, “Subscriptions should be left to newspapers and magazines,” Time reported.

Statistics show that in communities with firefighting subscription fees, less than 70% pay them. The subscription rate can be to as low as 40% in the early years of a subscription campaign, according to Time.

Defenders of a free market philosophy point out that these situations don’t show the free market at work, since there is a monopoly on firefighting. Other critics suggest that this shows the limitations of a “small government” doctrine.

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4 Responses to “Tennessee “Firefighters” let homeowner’s house burn. Why?”

  1. [...] Tennessee “Firefighters” let homeowner’s house burn. Why? (warmsouthernbreeze.wordpress.com) [...]

  2. [...] http://warmsouthernbreeze.wordpress.com/2011/12/08/tennessee-firefighters-let-homeowners-house-burn-… [...]

    • Warm Southern Breeze said

      You have some very interesting points, to be certain. I dare say most folks have little – if any – understanding how Fire/EMS/Public Safety operations work. For anyone to experience loss of property and life is definitely a tragedy that is wholly unnecessary, and entirely preventable. Thanks much for the link!

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