Town Square

Rural Tennessee fire sparks conservative ideological debate

Original post made by Me Too, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Oct 6, 2010

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.


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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Forgot the link in the original post Web Link

I can't figure out why this is a political debate. It seems to be a straight forward government issue. Most all of us (dems, repubs, tea-party, libs, greens, etc) understand that as a society government does have certain necessary/reasonable functions that require money (taxes) to operate. For most people, Fire Departments certainly fall within that category.

This is a clear case of a person not wanting to pay a tax (called a fee in the story) and they getting upset that services were not provided. He apparently had the money because he allegedly offered the fire department whatever it would cost to put out the fire. But he couldn't be troubled with the fee or he had a philosophical issue with it - the article does not say why he wouldn't pay the fee.

Its clear in my mind, his choices were 1. pay the fee 2. establish his own fire protection system 3. live with the consequences

Now this message board may turn into an argument about what we should be forced to pay taxes for, but that is not really what this is about.

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Posted by ok , so
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2010 at 4:26 pm

it's like insurance. you can't "forget" to pay your insurance bill and then cause an accident and then expect to file a claim... oh "I'll pay the premium now that I really need the protection" won't cut it.

my only problem with this is if there was some sort of clerical error and the Fire Dept thinks you haven't paid but you have... perhaps a better system is $75 annually, or if you haven't paid and they come out to put out a fire there is much larger fee which at least covers all of the expenses of them coming out (probably in the thousands$). They could also place a lien on the land (or remaining house) if you don't pay just like taxes.

i'm a much bigger fan of the way we do it here (through taxes) but supposedly this method has been in place for 20 years per the news story so it's not like people don;t understand the system. again, forget to pay your car insurance and see how that goes.

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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm

ok - agreed. I tried that in Vegas too, I told them I really was going to bet $100 on 17 and I would gladly pay them $100 now if I could be paid my winnings.

Yes, there may be a better system that the fire department could have in place, but just like car insurance it my responsibility to make sure it paid. If you still may bills and the insurance company doesn't get the check they still aren't going to pay for your accident. Its your responsibility to make sure payment was made. If there was a clerical error than the FD would be in some serious hurt.

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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Oct 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm

Llook...this is CA and not Tennessee...get it? Please limit your comments to stuff that's related to the world and not T.

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Posted by ridiculous
a resident of Castlewood
on Oct 6, 2010 at 6:11 pm

I cant believe that you guys are defending the firefighters. This is the most ridiculous story i have ever heard. What about the Firemans duty, code, ethics.... They sat there and watched those poor defensless animals die a slow and very painful death and did nothing. What if it was an infant stuck in there or a person who couldnt get out of bed for health reasons. Would they just sit there and then not be held responsible.Those fireman should be brought up on animal cruelty charges and neglect. There is an orginization that lets buildings burn to the ground if they dont pay their dues its called.... the mob. No one should have to pay for a service that could save their lives.

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Posted by jimbo
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2010 at 6:23 pm

"you shouldnt have to pay for a service that could save your life?" so how would you pay the CAREER firemen with families to support? How would you pay the doctors with families to support? it takes money to operate these services, as stated in a previous post... it was this guys responsibility to pay the TAX and he didnt, that is his problem.

many many years ago, when Benjamin Franklin started the first organized fire department in Phila. PA, you had to pay a fee, to your local fire insurance company which provided you with fire protection, and you got a huge cast iron stamp to put outside your front door. if it wasnt there, then good luck putting the fire out... this is just retro 1700s, just like the rest of most of rural TN. lol oh and im fairly sure if there was a life at stake those firemen would have taken action... a human life... fireman now are instructed and trained not go in after dogs and cats anymore... as a matter of fact, its illegal in many places to have a petfinder sticker on your house

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Posted by mhindin
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 6, 2010 at 7:13 pm

What would Jesus say about this?

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Posted by SailorSam
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2010 at 7:19 pm

"They sat there and watched those poor defensless animals die a slow and very painful death and did nothing. What if it was an infant stuck in there or a person who couldnt get out of bed for health reasons. Would they just sit there and then not be held responsible. Those fireman should be brought up on animal cruelty charges and neglect." WELL SAID!!!

What "if there was some sort of clerical error and the Fire Dept thinks you haven't paid but you have..." Are all you "fire fighter" fans willing to trust your life to them now?

These, so called, fire fighters, if not legally responsible, ARE MORALLY RESPONSIBLE and REPREHENSABLE. It's hard to believe that these individuals carry the same title as the wonderful men and women who were in New York City on September 11th and who fight the wildfires in Southern California. They didn't and don't do it for the MONEY!! SHAME ON YOU, "fire fighters". You had better pray that you do not reap what you have sown.

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Posted by Jenna
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2010 at 7:32 pm

I think it's pretty sick and sad that there's even any debate involved in this greedy, spiteful operation. I say spiteful, because Mr. Cranick offered to pay the costs of their services (which would have been much, much more than $75) and their answer basically amounted to "too bad, shoulda thunka that 'fore you didn't pay our money!" At that point, it ceased to be an issue of funding and became a matter of punishing a citizen for not ponying up with the extortion fee.

What makes me even sicker than this story are the smug words of support for this policy, some even going as far as trying to kick this family while they're down. This obviously comes from someone who isn't charged a "premium" for basic human decency and who has never had to make the awful decision between a POSSIBLE fire and DEFINITE hunger. I believe that in very few cases is the "failure" to pay a matter of someone having the money and preferring to spend it on "cigarettes and Jack Daniels." (This is quoted from a viciously assumptive post lashing out at the victimized family.) In most cases, it either means that the family couldn't afford $75 in one swoop (something tells me they won't take payments) or they just FORGOT, as every person is capable of doing sometimes. Does anyone here TRULY believe that poverty or a slippery memory renders someone deserving of the anguish that comes from watching firefighters practically roasting marshmallows over their burning home? Be careful what that smug, arm-folded part of your brain retorts to this - karma might just hear you and show you how awful that really is! Nobody who supports this policy can call themselves a Christian without hypocrisy because the "Golden Rule" of that faith is to treat other people the way you would want them to treat you. Anyone who says they would stand in their yard and watch their livelihood burn without BEGGING the firefighters present to put out the blaze is just LYING!

It also sickens me to hear people speak out in support of those mercenaries in fire-proof gear who dared to call themselves firefighters. Every one of those creatures who stood by and watched a person's home burn to the ground over a measly $75 (or any sum of money) should never be allowed to touch a fire hose again. I'm not a public servant - never have been - but I would have done ANYTHING I safely could have to save that man's home and belongings. Why, if there's no money changing hands? BECAUSE IT'S THE DECENT THING TO DO!!! I thought Tennessee was the "Volunteer State." There are some things that go beyond "cash services" and FIGHTING FIRE is one of them. I suppose next it'll be OK to send children home with untreated pneumonia and unset broken bones, 'cause well... their parents should have PAID for insurance. I guess compassion will soon be auctioned off to the highest bidder!

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Posted by Jason
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Obviously this was a horrible situation without an easy answer. I would really like to see the county/city reconsider its position in the future. Perhaps if citizens do not pay the fee up front they could still get service in an emergency at a premium cost to the homeowner. I understand that government services cannot operate without fees, but somehow allowing this to happen seems unconscionable.

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Posted by Tex
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 6, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Some people are just devils and that's the way it is. What if there was a clerical error? Eff-M. IF they didn't pay their bill, EFF-M. This is the mentality of conservatives and republicans and why it is SUPER IMPORTANT to vote this November. This is an issue of morallity which is something that 99% of all GOP/Tea Party Baggers lack.

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Posted by Old Fireman
a resident of another community
on Oct 6, 2010 at 8:27 pm

What the he!! is the matter with these "firemen"? Firemen, Paramedics, and other first responders provide aid to those who need it, period. They are not there to decide who gets aid and who doesn't based on whether or not they paid a fee. Those decisions are left to some other shmuck in an office somewhere. Love thy neighbor, if he can afford it. If this is where America is heading then you can have it.

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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2010 at 8:36 pm

I find it hard to believe that this person could offer to pay "whatever it costs" at the time of the fire, yet could not come up with $75 a year to pay the fee.

Although I didn't read about "all the animals," but if he did have all of these animals that I would assume be pets if they are inside, how could he afford them and not have $75.

let's assume that the firefighters go against the rules and do put out the fire. Are you going to pay them once they lose their job? And why would anybody pay the fee the next year? Soon the fire department is broke so they raise the taxes to the people who live in the city. What if a fireman was injured or killed, would he still have payed ALL of the costs?

I'm sorry, but no human life was in danger. It was a house and a terrible loss and a terrible lesson to learn. I would not risk my life to put out a fire in my own home as long as my family was safe. I would also not try to be a hero and rescue our pets if it meant putting my life at risk. I think the family would get over a dead pet quicker than a dead parent.

As far as what Jesus would say, I think Jesus would be fine as once again, there were no people in danger (as far as I read in the story) and Jesus does not care about possessions, he cares about people do God's work, feeding the poor, taking care of the sick. I think Jesus would even make a parable about this mean to teach a lesson regarding the evils of worrying about money.

I also assume that Jenna is currently writing out a check to the fire department in TN to cover all of the fees for people who have not paid so this does not happen again.

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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 6, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Let's see.. this was a 'City' Fire Department. The 'City' offered to extend the 'City' fire protection for a fee. The lost house was outside the 'City' limits and hadn't paid the fee. The Firefighters, employed by the 'City' did exactly as instructed by the 'City'.

The 'City' = Politicians. Ooops. Now is anyone surprised that this happened??


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Posted by ummmm
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm

I actually think that if there were animals in there, even a good samaritan would have probably tried to do something. that is how most people are. For these firefighters to not do anything, after I am assuming take an oath to save people, etc., not to do anything is pure ridiculous. I would say this town is really messed up.

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Posted by murry
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2010 at 4:56 am

The only reasonable policy here would have been to put out the fire and then charge not the annual fee but the full costs for the operation. Because a policy like this puts everyone at risk - letting a fire burn puts those people at risk who have paid the fees.

A fire can always spread if it's not put out. Even if firefighters are present. You never know if it gets windy suddenly, or the wind turns. You pay your fees, your neighbour doesn't and then your house burns down and your children die because the firefighters did not respond when the fire was still a local garden fire but only arrived when your house started to burn. Your neighbour does not pay his fees and your children get smoke poisoning because they breathed the fumes of the burning house. You pay your fees and the fire fighters don't respond to your call, because the your payment was accidently booked on another persons account. What then? It is only a matter of time until someone dies because of such a policy. And the dead person must not necesarily be the one who did not pay his fees.

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Posted by Erik
a resident of Walnut Hills
on Oct 7, 2010 at 10:23 am

Apparently most of you have NO CLUE what unincorporated / rural really means. It means NO tax base, NO services, NO NOTHING... The city had no authority to act outside of its assigned area, NONE. What the story omits to say is: The man fought the fire initially using a garden hose, after failing that he called 911. 911 correctly told him he was not a subscriber, he offered to pay, first the unpaid fee, then the actual costs. This was denied. Later, a PAID neighbor called in asking for protection from the first mans fire. The CITY FD responded correctly and took action to protect the paid subscribers property. Now we find out, that during all the goings on about garden hoses and calling 911 to argue he failed to evacuate his pets. How is this ANYONES fault but his own? This man CHOSE to locate in a remote area with no services. This man CHOSE to not pay for fire services from the city. The city is under NO OBLIGATION to provide services, even if at the end of the driveway. Those that cry "moral" obligation, and/or "oath", etc..etc..etc.. simply have no clue as to life. They simply wish to shift the blame off those truly responsible, and in this case the blame is SOLELY with the "victim".

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Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2010 at 11:41 am

Just as in the slave trade, 9/11 and Katrina price gougers, and fake construction companies in San Bruno....humans squash their humanity to their fellow human for the "Almighty Dollar". This came down to greed, pure and simple. Greed by the homeowner to not pay the fee and greed by the city counsel, 911 and fire service to not act in a humanitarian manner. It is the culture of our society and will always be with us.

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Posted by Chris
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I'm no bible thumper, but I'm sure if there WAS a God out there, he would be preaching the respect of ALL his creations, not just the ones that can talk, walk, and chew gum at the same time. We cannot condescend to know this man's situation. Maybe this man WAS a lazy bastard who really just didn't want to pay, maybe he had a damn good reason for not paying, maybe he saved those animals from a bad situation and knew he couldn't afford them...but housed them anyways. But those maybes don't really matter. What DOES matter is a simple question:


Where morality and compassion can't even touch the price tag of $75? With all our collective wisdom as human beings, have we learned nothing..that if there is a will, there is ALWAYS a way? That's the problem, the city was not looking for a solution, but someone to make an example of. I'm sure if those city scum, pencil-pushing A-holes had just stopped to open their minds for even a little bit, they would have had more than "standard procedure" and a gleeful, "tough shit" to offer this man.
The simple fact remains that if this man's neighbor(who HAD paid) had not been home, or God forbid was asleep, he would never have made that call and more important HUMAN lives would have been at stake. The firefighters should have answered the call simply because it posed a threat to the neighborhood as a whole and had the ability to endanger more than just animal life. Just because he didn't hold up his responsibilities in paying his taxes didn't make it any more right to stand by and do nothing. Two wrongs don't make a right. Repossess his car for collateral, take his belongings to auction...SOMETHING could have been done to remedy the situation but ALSO discourage A-holes out there who use other peoples' laziness to justify their own. "But HE did it, why can't I?". Are you kidding, are we in preschool still?
By letting that mans' house burn to the ground, I can guarantee it's caused more money than it would have to simply put the fire out, and look for another way to solve the money aspect of the situation. Now unnecessary tax dollars will go the man who cannot house himself or his son. Food stamps, government assistance, etc. And what about the depreciation of the land? Even with a shitty economy, your sell value isn't too good with charred remains sitting next to your perfectly manicured lawn. If there are things in this world that need changing, it's starts with the realization that it begins today, with the choices we make and the manner in which we carry ourselves. Do we want to be honorable, or sustain a cold, free-for-all mindset
that gives no room for human compassion...

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Posted by dismayed reader
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Oct 7, 2010 at 3:11 pm

with all our american wisdom, there is NO reason why THREE innocent living beings should have died because us humans were having a squabble about money and couldn't be adults for a moment, who were trying to SOLVE a problem, not bicker about it and make it worse.

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Posted by Curious
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

@ Chris - very well said! Thank you for the rational, very well thought out post.

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Posted by curly
a resident of Charter Oaks
on Oct 7, 2010 at 11:18 pm

Decisions have consequences. Stupid should hurt.

If the firefighters had responded to this idiot's fire, they would have lost their jobs. It is against the law for them to respond to anyone that has not paid the fee.

And yes, this is the world I want to live in. It's time we thinned the herd.