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Firefighters Watch As House Burns Down

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Firefighters Watch As House Burns Down

Postby knapplc » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:34 am

Do the firefighters have a moral obligation to put out the fire even if the "subscription fee" (which is essentially a tax) isn't paid?

Tennessee Firemen ignore burning house over unpaid subscription fee
Firemen responding to an emergency call watched a house burn down because its owners had not paid a $75 local fire subscription fee.


Gene and Paulette Cranick, of South Fulton, Tennessee, US, lost their home after officers were ordered by bosses not to extinguish it.

Fire fighters only arrived when the flames spread to the property of a neighbour, who had paid the fee. However, they continued to refuse to help the Cranicks.

Later the same day, the couple's 44-year-old son was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, after allegedly punching the local fire chief.

Jeff Vowell, the city manager of South Fulton, said: "It's a regrettable situation any time something like this happens." Mr Vowell explained that there was no county-wide fire service and it was too expensive for the city's officers to serve surrounding rural areas like the Cranicks' as well.

Rural residents can gain access to the service by paying the annual fee. But "if they choose not to," Mr Vowell said, "we can't make them".

Mr Cranick said: "I thought they'd come out and put it out, even if you hadn't paid your $75, but I was wrong." His wife said the couple had offered to pay the fire fighters whatever was necessary for them to extinguish the flames, but the officers refused.

However they do not blame the officers themselves, she said. "They're doing what they are told to do. It's not their fault." The Mayor of South Fulton, David Crocker, told local reporters: "We're very sorry their house burned."

However he too stood by the subscription policy, arguing that offering a pay-as-you-go service would mean upfront costs could not be met.

About three hours after the fire began, Mr Cranick's son Timothy allegedly arrived at the South Fulton fire station and asked for Mr Wilds, the fire chief.

It is alleged that when Mr Wilds came forward and asked if he could help, Mr Cranick punched him. "He just cold-cocked him," Mr Crocker said.

Mr Cranick allegedly had to be pulled off Mr Wilds by other firefighters, after having knocked him to the ground. The 44-year-old is said to have been taken to hospital after injuring his hand committing the alleged assault.

Mr Wilds was said by officials to be "doing OK". The Cranicks are temporarily staying in a mobile home.
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Re: Firefighters Watch As House Burns Down

Postby moonhead » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:38 am

it's a socialist government organization anyway. we don't need public service, communist, socialist, firefighters. privatize!
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Re: Firefighters Watch As House Burns Down

Postby dream_017 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 9:48 am

So, they choose not to pay...but still expect the benefits(service) :-?
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Re: Firefighters Watch As House Burns Down

Postby scottaa1 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:17 pm

I wonder if the police in the area operate the same way. "911 what is your emergency?" "My husband is having a heart attack." "I see. according to the system, you've not paid your annual due for police/paramedic service, so we can't help."

It sounds like a strange setup they have there, or maybe it's just not what I've ever been exposed to - "Mr Vowell explained that there was no county-wide fire service and it was too expensive for the city's officers to serve surrounding rural areas like the Cranicks' as well." I just pay my city/county taxes and it's all included. Are those farmers NOT paying the basic taxes the non-rural people pay for emergency services?

I wonder how often Mr. Vowell gets offered an IOU. :-/

edit: and the 44-year old son who goes to the station and punches the fire chief hard enough to break his hand apparently. niiiice.
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Re: Firefighters Watch As House Burns Down

Postby knapplc » Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:43 pm

I think the guy should have paid his fee. He knew about it, he knew about the reason for the fee, and he knew that if he didn't pay the fee the rules said they could let his house burn. Despite this, he didn't pay it. He stated in the article that he thought they'd save his house anyway, meaning (to me) that he never had any intention of paying the fee, but expected them to preserve his house. So I think the homeowner is clearly in the wrong here.

However, I also think the firefighters are in the wrong. What's the problem with putting out the fire and billing the guy? Is a $75 fee really more important than the material possessions that made up this guy's life? I would have a really hard time being one of those firefighters and not helping the man.

The guy who punched the fire chief is in the wrong. Period. :-t
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Re: Firefighters Watch As House Burns Down

Postby scottaa1 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 1:02 pm

knapplc wrote:However, I also think the firefighters are in the wrong. What's the problem with putting out the fire and billing the guy? Is a $75 fee really more important than the material possessions that made up this guy's life? I would have a really hard time being one of those firefighters and not helping the man.

The guy who punched the fire chief is in the wrong. Period. :-t


Yeah, I guess it could be looked at as 'fire mitigation insurance.' The $75 isn't going to go toward replacement of losses but it might just help save some of your stuff. Or maybe not; in many cases the fire damage is rivaled by the water damage of putting it out. Either way, if they showed up for the neighbors fire and the people offered them 'any amount' to put out their fire, then why not put it out and send them a bill... they COULD have gotten service for a flat $75, chose not to, and when it bit them in the butt, they have to pay full price for the servicem, just like any kind of insurance. Maybe they couldn't afford it :-?

As for showing up and punching the fire chief... when the article said the man went to the hospital I was thinking it was due to having the tar beat out of him by a couple fireman. Most fireman I know are in darn good shape and strong, and they're a tight fraternity of men (and women), and some pissed off guy comes in, sucker punches the chief... he's lucky they were professional enough not to respond in kind. Or maybe they did and it just wasn't included in the article.

Either way, there's plenty to call wrong here. Put this on the cover of next month's You Get What You Pay For magazine.
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Re: Firefighters Watch As House Burns Down

Postby shawngee03 » Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:31 pm

i agree that the policy is in the wrong here. that is not the right way to handle emergency services imo...as it then leads to things like this

everyone should be forced to pay as part of a tax and its houdl cover everyone's emergency services. where i live it is part of our county tax

we have part time/volunteer services as its not inside a city...but that better than nothing

emergency services is not somthing to be gettig petty about...so dont even allow it as an option. force payments as a tax and be done with it
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Re: Firefighters Watch As House Burns Down

Postby A Fleshner Fantasy » Wed Oct 06, 2010 3:48 pm

knapplc wrote:However, I also think the firefighters are in the wrong. What's the problem with putting out the fire and billing the guy? Is a $75 fee really more important than the material possessions that made up this guy's life? I would have a really hard time being one of those firefighters and not helping the man.

The problem with this is that the second they did this, why would anyone bother paying the $75 fee. The fee is, in essence, insurance. If you could pay the same amount after an accident that you could from the very beginning, why would anyone buy insurance in the first place?
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Re: Firefighters Watch As House Burns Down

Postby dream_017 » Thu Oct 07, 2010 9:37 am

knapplc wrote:Is a $75 fee really more important than the material possessions that made up this guy's life?


I guess it is...the guy never intended to pay it.


I agree with Flesh, why would anybody else pay if they could just pay after the fact or only if they needed it.
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Re: Firefighters Watch As House Burns Down

Postby bigh0rt » Thu Oct 07, 2010 12:49 pm

Haven't read the replies thus far, but at first glance, failure to pay the associated fee is essentially the homeowner saying, "If my place catches on fire, I'll take care of it; no worries." I don't think they should be required to put it out, either.
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