Tales of privatization

Burn, baby, burn; Ayn Rand style:

The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn’t do anything to stop his house from burning.

Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.

The mayor said if homeowners don’t pay, they’re out of luck.

This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn’t put it out. It wasn’t until that fire spread to a neighbor’s property, that anyone would respond.

Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.
It was only when a neighbor’s field caught fire, a neighbor who had paid the county fire service fee, that the department responded. Gene Cranick asked the fire chief to make an exception and save his home, the chief wouldn’t.

22 thoughts on “Tales of privatization

  1. Not to sound like someone without compassion, because losing one’s home is certainly a tragedy, but dumb-ass redneck conservative Republican voters need to realize precisely what the actual consequences of low-tax, low-service public life actually are. If you demand nothing and refuse to pay anything, it’s hard to feel sorry for you when life kicks you in the balls; in fact, you kind of asked for it to happen.

  2. Since firefighting is not specifically addressed in the Federalist Papers, obviously government has no business putting out fires.
    The mistake was not with the Cranicks, but with a free-market system unwilling to create privately owned fire departments from which the Cranicks could select their coverage from a variety of providers, in a manner not unlike picking out auto insurance from Flo the Progressive Insurance Minx.
    In case you didn’t figure out I was kidding… the damnedest part of this story came afterward when one of the Cranicks went down to the fire station and busted the chief in the bazoo. Now: no house AND you’re in jail.

  3. @Kevin, that’s (busting the chief in the bezel) how they got a temp roof…it was all a part of their ‘cunning plan’. Lucky for them, there isn’t a “just in case I get jugged” fee, which they wouldn’t have paid, either – and been left out in the elements. 😉

  4. Here’s hoping (it’s weak as water, but still…) stories like this start to sink in that ‘compassion for those w/o’ isn’t a bad thing…it may be your own roof you save when others pay their fair share (and so do you as a part of SOCIETY and not the ‘chic’ type society, either) for the good of the community.
    These folks just look like asses. They bet they wouldn’t need fire protection…they lost…BIG. Was 75 smackers WORTH watching your house burn to the ground? I mean, really? Twenty-one cents a day…you are going to balk at? And had you paid, the FD could have put it out AND kept the fire from spreading. Selfish a-holes.

  5. My feelings are a little different.
    I’m in a rural area. The deal is similar to the story: If you want to pay for fire protection, you subscribe. If you don’t pay, you’re SOL. Kind of like if you pay for insurance you get the benefits of that insurance. You can’t take out a policy after the fact.
    Yet this homeowner seems to think that he can not pay for services (for years), but still get the benefit of these services. While I feel sorry for him, why should all his neighbors pay for protection and part of that pay being to subsidize him.
    Getting back into agreement with others here, it is an example of why we have taxes so that everyone is covered. His fire threatens his neighbor’s house.

  6. It’s the South Fulton Department responding to an Obion County fire. If South Fulton pays for city services and outlying Obion County does not how can South Fulton sustain their department for South Fulton residents? Saying you would pay whatever it costs in a panic isn’t the same as actually paying when you get the bill. I read somewhere that rural fire collection payments run about 50%. This is a sad story but I think South Fulton has the right policy that keeps the most people safe from fire. I looked at the South Fulton FD website and they have three old trucks in a single building. When those trucks need fixing the people of Obion County don’t kick in money but they want the trucks to respond to their fires? The trucks have to run all the time for the department to even exist and you can’t do that with people who only find their wallets when their house is on fire.

  7. Liberatarian paradise.
    To paraphrase the US Army in Vietnam, we had to destroy the house to save the economy from ‘soshulism’.

  8. You no pay evil soshulist tax, you no get nice gubmint service.
    As Tom Friedman likes to say: Suck. On. That.

  9. South Foulton, Tennessee — Libertarian Paradise.
    As (I think) Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, taxes are the price we pay for civilization.

  10. The first summer we bought the house out here, I had to put insurance on it as part of the mortgage agreement. The woman at the insurance agency asked if I wanted to add flood insurance for $50. Nah, I said. In fact, I was grateful that even though we were in a flood plain (barely) that the insurance agency classified it as a 500-year flood plain, thus making the insurance optional.
    Sure enough, that summer we got hit by shit that would make Noah say “Damn…” The rivers rose, FEMA came out and everyone was flooding. Basements all around here were backing up with sewage. I was still out of state finishing my old gig, but The Missus and The Midget were here and I was getting frequent freak outs. Turns out, we were saved by two things: a sump pump that could apparently dry out the Pacific and a house that sat on an awesome grade.
    I wouldn’t want to live through that again. So, while I feel for the guy and I understand the desire to shave 50 bucks off of something, I also understand that if the shit had hit the fan out here, I would have been up a creek without a paddle. And it would be My. Own. Fault.
    As shitty as it is, they call it “insurance” for a reason.

  11. the tax system in tennessee is fucked up as CA. and southern states? good idea to charge for garbage. the sales tax is on everything. but WI is a tax hell.

  12. I wrote about this over the weekend.
    I don’t think the fire department is correctly termed “privatized.” I could be wrong, but I believe the Cranick house was outside city limits in a really rural area. In rural areas it’s not uncommon for there to be a fee paid for services by people who don’t live in a general services area. A lot of rural counties have a smaller population and simply don’t have the tax base to operate services the way a metropolitan area does. Again, I could be wrong …
    What I think has gotten missed in this discussion and which I mentioned in my post is that there are a lot of metro areas – Colorado City, San Jose, Lawrence Mass. – who are basically doing the same thing as the Cranicks did. They are shutting down fire stations and laying off police and firefighters because the people won’t approve a tax increase. That’s as stupid and short sighted as some guy in rural Tennessee not paying $75 for his annual fire protection.

  13. I meant to add: great discussion. I just lobbed this out hoping to hear what y’all had to say. I have no idea how things work in rural American. I grew up in the burbs and have spent my adult life in large cities so I learned something.

  14. California faces this same problem, in spades. We vote for initiative after initiative that prevents taxes from ever rising. But, we still expect all of the services that taxes are needed to pay for. When this comes up, every year, we say “just cut the massive waste in government and you don’t need to raise taxes”. But, by “massive waste” we mean all of the funds used to keep those in economic trouble from starving, from dying of treatable diseases, from living on the street, etc. And, of course, we all know very well that the only people in economic trouble are the lazy bums and/or minorities and/or illegal immigrants who are only here to take our money. We Californians are really smart, you know.

  15. “Burn, Baby, Burn” Republicans are at it again.
    In 2001, top Republican officials in the Bush/Cheney administration blew off numerous “hair on fire” warnings of an imminent domestic terrorist attack, and buildings in New York City burned on 9/11 along with a Philadelphia field.
    In 2003, top Republican officials in the Bush/Cheney administration burned a top, covert, counter-proliferation CIA agent.
    In 2008, Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas, as renovations began on the Texas governors mansion, burned the advice of the governors mansion security office, taking almost all of the mansion’s security force out with him to his temporary multi-million dollar lakeside retreat, leaving a mansion-security skeleton crew behind, allowing an arsonist to get close enough to the governors mansion to torch it.
    And then this story about the Tennessee firefighters, following Republican policy, letting this guy’s home burn to the ground. This sounds close to what the Bush/Cheney administration did (or didn’t do, that is) during Hurricane Katrina, after New Orleans flooded, but instead of fire it was water.
    “Burn, Baby, Burn” Republicans have an arsonist streak a mile wide, or at the least, an arsonist-enabling streak (just look at the boiling Tea Party). I’m, therefore, voting straight Democratic Party ticket in November in an attempt to try to stop anymore torching of our democracy (and the U.S. Constitution) by “Burn, Baby, Burn” Republicans.

  16. I live in a semi-rural area (in the township right outside city limits) and have to pay extra home insurance because the city firehouse, which is closer to me, will not service me while the township firehouse (nine miles away) will. Ok, fair enough. At least, the township has a fire department and we don’t have to pay the city extra to have our fires put out.
    Still, a part of me feels like fireworkers need to take some kind of Hippocratic oath like doctors, in that they must put out fires if they have the equipment and the fire has a very high chance of spreading. Do the right thing now and settle up later. It’s only humane.

  17. Cranick lives in an un-incorporated area that has voted repeatedly to not have fire service. Down here in FL these areas fight tooth and nail to avoid any government controls or activities, they don’t even want the roads paved for fear it will bring in developments and raise their taxes.
    The town offers people in theses areas fire coverage, they mail out letters with the offer AND call up non-subscribers to make the offer verbally. Cranick declined.
    The reason the town does it this way is that they tried charging for coming out to the county, people called them for help and then they refused to pay.
    The firefighter’s insurance does not cover them if they deploy to a non-subscriber, no health or death benefits period. Go watch Turk! 182. Tennessee is a right to work state, worker’s comp is Joke down here in the south, I know from experience, my knee is shot because I had to fight for 18 months for a simple operation.
    Contradicting the TV lackey who said Cranick was burning trash far enough away from the house it’s obvious he wasn’t. How do I know? His frigging house burned down.
    And these people all know each other, if Cranick was a stand up guy they might have helped out but they knew he’d refuse to pay down the road.
    The question to ask is who’d he vote for? If you’re living in an incorporated section of Tenn., most likely he’s a Repub. I could be wrong but that’s the bet to make statistically, youbetcha. And If he is he’d probably have a good tea-like explanation about why he doesn’t pay that government extortion.

  18. I used to live in a rural area outside of Oklahoma City. We paid a $35.00 annual fee for fire protection. The fire department made it clear that if you didn’t pay the fee then you would pay the full cost of whatever it took to put out the fire. This seemed like a rational approach as opposed to watching your house burn to the ground for some sort of ideological lesson.
    I can’t even imagine how any firefighter with any conscience whatsoever could stand by and watch a house burn to the ground.

  19. I think the scenario OkieBlue (2 comments up) is more a reasonable & rational approach. More like how actual ins. works (when you get an actual payout that is) – you pay into it and get served for free if/when the unexpected happens later, or, you pay nothing now & have to eat the full bill later. But either way you’re getting served/ protect by people WHOSE JOBS IT IS to do that.
    I too don’t understand how any self respecting firefighter could just stand & watch that happen. Heck, even if I wasn’t in that job and happened by, I’d’ve tried to help. But, to just stand there??? The mind reels.
    I think instead of punching out the fire chief the guy should’ve set fire to the chief’s car. (Well not really, but, you know…)

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