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Fire sale: Fire Department lets home burn over $75.00 fee.

 
 
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 12:53 pm
Quote:
No pay, no spray:
Firefighters let home burn


Firefighters in rural Tennessee let a home burn to the ground last week because the homeowner hadn't paid a $75 fee.

Gene Cranick of Obion County and his family lost all of their possessions in the Sept. 29 fire, along with three dogs and a cat.

"They could have been saved if they had put water on it, but they didn't do it," Cranick told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.

The fire started when the Cranicks' grandson was burning trash near the family home. As it grew out of control, the Cranicks called 911, but the fire department from the nearby city of South Fulton would not respond.

"We wasn't on their list," he said the operators told him.

Cranick, who lives outside the city limits, admits he "forgot" to pay the annual $75 fee. The county does not have a county-wide firefighting service, but South Fulton offers fire coverage to rural residents for a fee.

Cranick says he told the operator he would pay whatever is necessary to have the fire put out.

His offer wasn't accepted, he said.

The fire fee policy dates back 20 or so years.

"Anybody that's not inside the city limits of South Fulton, it's a service we offer. Either they accept it or they don't," said South Fulton Mayor David Crocker.

Firefighters did eventually show up, but only to fight the fire on the neighboring property, whose owner had paid the fee.

"They put water out on the fence line out here. They never said nothing to me. Never acknowledged. They stood out here and watched it burn," Cranick said.

South Fulton's mayor said that the fire department can't let homeowners pay the fee on the spot, because the only people who would pay would be those whose homes are on fire.

Cranick, who is now living in a trailer on his property, says his insurance policy will help cover some of his lost home.

"Insurance is going to pay for what money I had on the policy, looks like. But like everything else, I didn't have enough."

After the blaze, South Fulton police arrested one of Cranick's sons, Timothy Allen Cranick, on an aggravated assault charge, according to WPSD-TV, an NBC station in Paducah, Ky.

Police told WPSD that the younger Cranick attacked Fire Chief David Wilds at the firehouse because he was upset his father's house was allowed to burn.

WPSD-TV reported that Wilds was treated and released.


Source: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39516346/ns/us_news-life/

Clearly this way is far superior to the stupid socialist fire departments that are everywhere in the USA. Privatize fire departments!

Seriously though, this system exists in places? I summon Mysteryman to help me understand the details.

A
R
The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. We don't need no water. Let the muthafucka burn!
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Type: Discussion • Score: 21 • Views: 7,047 • Replies: 133

 
Cycloptichorn
 
  3  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 01:07 pm
This is the preferred Conservative system for running our country. In all matters.

I've been reading Conservative blogs defending this left and right today... heartless sons of bitches. Karma will come right back around and bite every one of those firefighters who watched that house burn, right in the ass.

Cycloptichorn
squinney
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 01:13 pm
I wonder if he had paid for the previous 20 years. Still, I guess it's like health insurance or vehicle insurance. One can't wait to get sick or have an accident and then decide to get insurance. If he had lived there that long, knew the policy and had paid it up until this year, I would equate it with other insurance. If he was new to the area and wasn't familiar with not having county / tax provided fire coverage I would be more sympathetic. Not that I am unsympathetic, just that I would be more so if this was a new or surprising revolution to him.

Yes, these areas (rural) still exist in the US. Some areas have volunteer fire departments only and rely on donations for firehouse and truck upkeep.
Ceili
 
  3  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 01:19 pm
Backward thinking... Now everybody's insurance rates go up.
Seriously, why couldn't they have put out the fire and given him a $1000 fine for not paying the fee.
I've heard this same sort of thing happening with firefighters not pulling people out of floods, cause they were on the wrong side of the river - different county. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
0 Replies
 
squinney
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 01:19 pm
@squinney,
Let me add that yes, it was heartless and I can't imagine any of the volunteer firefighters I know allowing this. Once they were there it was especially heartless to standby and watch.

I think this is where the community has to decide that it could have been them and maybe they need to get their own fire department, perhaps at the county level so that the expense is a bit more spread out over the population.
0 Replies
 
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 01:56 pm
I think the $1000 fine for being unpaid would have been one way to handle this. The other is that if they are going to charge, and fire protection is required for public safety, then just make the fee mandatory and include it in taxes.

I gather that he had paid the fee in the past. That seems to be the implication.

As a friend put it...
R
This is the inevitable outcome of privatizing indispensable social services.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 02:32 pm
@failures art,
I think you have to include it in taxes. If the fee was $75, but if I failed to pay and I had a fire I would be charged $1000, the logical thing to do would be to not pay. The chance of having a house fire is 1 in 300 per year. Just to break even, the fine would have to be 300 x $75 or $22,500. If you add a penalty to that, you are at $25,000 and if a homeowner didn't come up with $75, they aren't going to come up with twenty five grand.
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 03:08 pm
@engineer,
That's what I'm saying, but rereading my previous post, I should have said "a better option is to..."

The only reason worth mentioning the $1000 dollar idea is that there seems to be many reasons (including potential monetary reasons) a person could rationalize extinguishing a fire.

I agree, this has to be mandatory fee because the service, and taxes is exactly the place such a fee should be placed.

A
R
T
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 03:13 pm
@engineer,
I think that's a wee bit steep. I wouldn't imagine the cost to put out a single house fire would be that much. At that price a citizen could almost afford their own fire fighting equipment. But I'd agree that instead of paying a set fee they could have been forced to pay the cost of the endeavor. A couple of these penalties in the area and I'd bet nobody would skip the bill.
However, I think the best thing to do was make it part of the taxes as well, but if you're late on the bill... wouldn't you be left in the same situation.
JPB
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 03:16 pm
I think the only way it can be included in his tax bill is if his taxing body agreed to force all non-residents under their jurisdiction to buy into the taxing district. It's a volunteer non-resident program for an out-of-area service. We have a lot of those here - no parks, no libraries, but the option to pay cash to get into one in an adjacent town. There's no option to have it added to the tax bill of an individual homeowner unless it's going to be added to everyone by annexing the surrounding communities into the tax district.

failures art
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 03:20 pm
@JPB,
JPB wrote:
There's no option to have it added to the tax bill of an individual homeowner unless it's going to be added to everyone by annexing the surrounding communities into the tax district.

This is exactly what I think should happen. There should not be any out-of-area locations.

A
R
T
squinney
 
  2  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 03:29 pm
@failures art,
But, this gets back to what I was saying above. The community has to decide. If they tend to be Republicans, they are likely okay with the current system. Now that this has happened to a friend and neighbor, they may elect the next official that promises to bring them a county fire department.

Either way, they have to pay by city tax, county tax, or privately.
0 Replies
 
realjohnboy
 
  3  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 03:48 pm

bm.
I am looking forward to hearing Mysteryman's take.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 03:48 pm
I have mixed feelings on all this, including understanding, to some extent, the volunteer fire fighters, at least how they think that way, though I am not thinking that way. I'm agreeing with Ceili's last post I read, so far, but not really disagreeing with engineer or failures art.

I've watched fire fighting in california for some decades, and watched about what - last I read - to be the change in the fire situations since fire departments (from all over seeming creation) come to save expensive houses in forested areas. Back when I learned about fire ecology, a fire would tend to burn to the last burn edge. I don't remember that as definitive, but the way things tended to work in the natural ecology. But, with the dotting of houses in forests, whole areas now would be saved at great expense again and again, pretty much growing more fuel in the surrounding area over the years. So, I adopted my own idea that if you live in the intense forest or live on the beach at the apex of a routine firepath (aka, Malibu Colony zillion dollar houses) your big house is your big fat risk. I say this with a long time friend who now lives there. I wonder about the possibility of their self-insuring.

So, my own rad to myself view, is to build lightly on the land if you build at all.
Or if I build at all. A nice tent? Small cabin. Stone, in the woods?

So, I'm wondering how rural is rural? The fire situation there is likely different than I am used to thinking about. Ceili's point that the homeowner who didn't pay the fee pays fire put out expenses makes sense to me, I think, if I get the area is not all forested, i.e., part of a fire ecology zone. Fire quelling expenses that involve planes, etc., really add up.



ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 03:58 pm
@ossobuco,
Be interesting to hear from Mysteryman, since he knows the San Diego area too.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  5  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 04:06 pm
@Ceili,
Ceili wrote:

I think that's a wee bit steep. I wouldn't imagine the cost to put out a single house fire would be that much. At that price a citizen could almost afford their own fire fighting equipment. But I'd agree that instead of paying a set fee they could have been forced to pay the cost of the endeavor. A couple of these penalties in the area and I'd bet nobody would skip the bill.
However, I think the best thing to do was make it part of the taxes as well, but if you're late on the bill... wouldn't you be left in the same situation.

But the cost of maintaining a standing fire department continuously on the ready with all the equipment maintenance, training and administrative overhead is a lot more than the cost of putting out a single fire. If you are only charged for the fire in the rare event it occurs, the common sense thing for every citizen to do would be to only pay on an as-needed basis. Of course, then there is no fire department. If the penalty was a mere $1000, I would get together 100 of my neighbors and put the $75 each into a fund. That allows us to pay for seven fires when we probably won't even have one. At the end of every year, we get the money back with interest. Self interest trumps community good once again.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 04:14 pm
@engineer,
That makes sense.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 04:28 pm
another side of fees and services rendered, a number of years back the person who bought the house next to my grandmother, never cut the grass, she phoned and complained to the city, the sent someone around to assess the situation, they informed him if he didn't comply the city would send someone to cut the grass and charge him $75 0n hid taxes, he laughed and said fine, about two months later a city work crew came by and cut the grass (or more correctly mowed the hay), this guy got a great deal, he didn't care what his lawn looked like, he didn't have to spend $200 - 300 dollars on a lawn mower and gas, he get's it cut once a year, for some extra money on his taxes
0 Replies
 
realjohnboy
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 04:57 pm
I emailed Mysteryman. Both he and his lady are volunteer firefighters in western KY.
Here in Charlottesville (Virginia) in the urban area that includes UVA, we have a fire department with paid employees. I live a mere 10 minutes away and we have a volunteer force, just down the street from me. As one gets further out into the rural areas, there are numerous others.
I got a fund raising letter from my fire department recently, reporting that they responded to 2000 calls last year. 6 a day on average, many of which perhaps involved nothing more serious then a fender-bender on Rt 29 where some oil leaked out of a car. But, of course, they also responded to serious fires. And they are all trained in EMR.
Certainly, in rural areas in particular, a volunteer fire department makes sense. Neighbors helping neighbors. Perhaps it is also (please don't take offense) that boys love toys.
The rural volunteer fire departments also made smart decisions regarding the design of their physical facilities, incorporating public gathering spaces for community events. The firehouse was a destination.
I still recognize a few names on the Board of Directors of my fire department.
Good people. That is important, I think.
By the way, our Rescue Squad is all volunteer, thanks to UVA which "strongly suggests" that anyone interested in trauma care spend some time doing that.
I don't understand the rationale of the fire department F'Art details. That violates everything I have written about above.
dadpad
 
  1  
Reply Tue 5 Oct, 2010 05:07 pm
In Australia a fire services levy is included in your insurance payment as a separate line item.
eg
insurance 500.00
stamp duty 10.00
fire services levy 75.00
This levy is collected by insurance companies and forwarded to the relevant state government where it goes directly to either the metropolitan fire brigade or the country fire authority.
I understand after our recent devestating fires that some changes are to be made to this system due to the number of uninsured properties. I'll have to check and get back to you.
0 Replies
 
 

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