Firefighters watch Tennessee home burn to the ground over $75 fee...

[deleted account] ( 13 moms have responded )

http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_upshot/201...

(video report of the incient provided on link along with the article below)

Rural Tennessee fire sparks conservative ideological debate
By Brett Michael Dykes
2 hrs 48 mins ago


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.

They did, however, come out when Cranick's neighbor -- who'd already paid the fee -- called 911 because he worried that the fire might spread to his property. Once they arrived, members of the South Fulton department stood by and watched Cranick's home burn; they sprang into action only when the fire reached the neighbor's property.

"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."

The incident has sparked a debate in many corners of the Web. Writers for the National Review, arguably the nation's most influential right-leaning voice, have seized on the episode to discuss the relative merits of compassionate conservatism versus a hard-line libertarianism.

Daniel Foster, a self-described "conservative with fairly libertarian leanings" who writes for the magazine, took issue with the county's laissez-faire approach to firefighting, calling it "a kind of government for which I would not sign up."

"What moral theory allows these firefighters (admittedly acting under orders) to watch this house burn to the ground when 1) they have already responded to the scene; 2) they have the means to stop it ready at hand; 3) they have a reasonable expectation to be compensated for their trouble?" Foster wrote.

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."

Liberals are pouncing on the Cranick fire as an illustration of what they take to be the callous indifference of a market regime that rewards privileged interests over the concerns of ordinary Americans.

"The case perfectly demonstrated conservative ideology, which is based around the idea of the on-your-own society and informs a policy agenda that primarily serves the well-off and privileged," Think Progress' Zaid Jilani wrote in a response to the National Review writers. "It has been 28 years since conservative historian Doug Wead first coined the term 'compassionate conservative.' It now appears that if any such philosophy ever existed, it has few adherents in the modern conservative movement."

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Thoughts? Opinions?

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13 Comments

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[deleted account]

I don't think they have the right to call themselves firefighters. I can't understand why anyone would just watch. Whether the fee is paid or not I don't think anyone has the right to say he didn't deserve help.
I'm only familiar with volunteer services because thats just how it is here. All of our local volunteer fire departments travel to the neighboring towns and areas to help all the time and don't get compensated because they aren't in it for the money.

Amie - posted on 10/06/2010

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So I'm confused about something. They checked to see if he had paid this $75 before they responded to the 911 call? or did he offer up the information that he hadn't paid it?

Either way, it's a ridiculous situation.

Rosie - posted on 10/06/2010

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yeah, i don't understand why they simply couldn't bill them the 75 dollars later. pretty fucked up if you ask me. seriously......WTF?

April - posted on 10/06/2010

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why couldn't he pay the 75 dollars right then and there? or call up the department or whoever you're supposed to pay and pay it over the phone? there could have been a solution that would have made both parties happy. instead, this man had to be the example, he had to be the point that the fire department was trying to make. pay your 75 bucks or we'll let your house burn down

Tracey - posted on 10/06/2010

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And if a child was in the home when it burned would they have stood by and let them burn to death for the sake of $75?

Tracey - posted on 10/06/2010

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And if a child was in the home when it burned would they have stood by and let them burn to death for the sake of $75?

Tah - posted on 10/05/2010

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they have lost the right to be called firefighters...they are now firewatchers....that is horrible...I am confused, are they not paid by taxes, i hope he sues and when he is done....sue some more....how can yo feel good about watching a house burn down....isn't there am oath or something...geez luizzze

Kate CP - posted on 10/05/2010

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Just found out that county in 2009 received over $185,000 for rural fire protection services. Also another thing to think about...insurance. If this man had fire insurance on his home I think the city/county can expect a HUGE lawsuit from the insurance company for gross negligence.

Charlene - posted on 10/05/2010

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Absolutely ridiculous.
Aren't the wages of firemen paid with taxes? I have never heard of paying a fee for fire protection services...

Kate CP - posted on 10/05/2010

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If the man was paying yearly government and property taxes then he's paid for fire support and SHOULD have had the rights of those "paying" customers. Not to mention they basically just let the poor man's pets die horribly. What would they have done if there were people trapped inside? Let them die screaming a horrible death because he forgot to pay them $75? I'm all for libertarianism...but this is libertarianism gone nuts. :(

[deleted account]

Why couldn't they put the fire out then bill him later if $75 is THAT big of a deal? Thought I do understand that people need to pay the fees/taxes that makes these services possible. Still doesn't make it right what the firemen did.

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