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Firefighting? Or money-making scheme?

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Firefighting? Or money-making scheme?

Post by Shirina on Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:56 pm

Last year, a story made front page news when a small town firefighting brigade responded to a fire, but instead of putting it out, merely stood by and watched the house burn. Today, the same firefighting brigade watched a second house burn whilst doing nothing. The reason for both these acts was due to the victims' failure to pay a $75 firefighting fee that is being charged to rural homeowners who do not fall under any specific town's firefighting jurisdiction - or more importantly - homeowners who are not taxed for any town's firefighting service. Therefore, the fee is just that, a fee and NOT a tax. In other words, firefighting, which is considered one of our fundamental protections, has become a money-making scam. It should be noted that people fall behind on their taxes quite often, especially in this economy, but no one has yet been denied firefighting service for not being caught up. Only within the system of free enterprise and market capitalism would something like this even take place. While this is not necessarily a criticism of capitalism gone amok (though it may as well be), it stands as a testimony to why certain things should not be privatized. The remarks by the mayor would actually be comical if not for their absurdity:

"There's no way to go to every fire and be able to keep up the manpower, the equipment, and just the funding for the fire department," said South Fulton Mayor David Crocker.

South Fulton has a population of 2,517; unless this town is a community of pyromaniacs or it happens to be the seat of the American petrochemical industry, just how many fires does a town this size have? The mayor acts as though his fire department is running hither and yon like scurrying ants snuffing out hundreds of fires per year. The mayor also acts as if those $75 fees are the only thing keeping the department functional, so the hyperbole in the mayor's words is pretty transparent. After all, who pays if the department is called to put out a brush fire on government-owned or public property? Perhaps the squirrels, rabbits, and finches who inhabit such places are also required to pay a fee?

But it's not the fee I take issue with; it's the rock-hard, stoic way in which this policy is carried out. The first man offered to pay for all of the expenses incurred by the fire department if they would just put the fire out, but they adamantly refused. If you don't pay, tough. They have all the compassion one might expect from capitalist corporatism. In a town that small, the firefighters probably even knew these people, but once money is on the table, the "root of all evil" rears its ugly head.

To make matters worse, the firefighters actually went to the burning house - both times! But they just sat there. With that being the case, they had already responded to the fire, so how much money did the department save by becoming looky-loos instead of actual firefighters? Obviously putting out this fire would not have bankrupted them or they wouldn't have responded in the first place. What's more, these firefighters will actually get paid to stand there and do nothing.

The bottom line is pretty obvious - the refusal of this fire department to act on these fires has more to do with the principle of "the fees weren't paid" than it did with actually needing the money. In other words, they're charging because they CAN ... not because they're in financial dire straits. Of course, the fire department is treated like the victim ("they're providing a service these citizens wouldn't ordinarily have!"), but the question should be - why not? Can't the world's greatest superpower protect a small cluster of rural homes from fire without bankrupting itself? Something is very amiss in South Fulton, Tennessee.

"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."

What's worse is that a subscription-based fire service seems to be catching on:

In a nearby county, rural homeowners can purchase a $110 subscription to cover fires, but they can also pay on the spot for fire protection: $2,200 for the first two hours firefighters are on the scene and $1,100 for each additional hour, according to dailytimes.com.

The International Association of Fire Fighters is condemning the South Fulton fire department:

The IAFF statement reads, in part, "We condemn South Fulton's ill-advised, unsafe policy. Professional, career fire fighters shouldn't be forced to check a list before running out the door to see which homeowners have paid up. They get in their trucks and go."

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Re: Firefighting? Or money-making scheme?

Post by astra on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:23 pm

Well Shirina, If you and I were living in that area, I can see us both buying an ex military or ex airport fire appliance - NOT an ex fire dept machine, heaven forfend!!

A few volunteers, and off we go. Put this Mayor's nose RIGHT out of joint - you ain't providing for us, so you aint getting our lolly (cash)!


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Re: Firefighting? Or money-making scheme?

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:26 pm

Try and withold part of your Council Tax because you aren't receiving a particular service, and see how far you get.
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Re: Firefighting? Or money-making scheme?

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:33 pm


Tennessee family home burns while firefighters watch
By Eric Pfeiffer | The Sideshow – 22 hrs ago

A Tennessee couple helplessly watched their home burn to the ground, along with all of their possessions, because they did not pay a $75 annual fee to the local fire department.

Vicky Bell told the NBC affiliate WPSD-TV that she called 911 when her mobile home in Obion County caught fire.

South Fulton Mayor David Crocker [said] that if firefighters responded to non-subscribers, no one would have an incentive to pay the fee.

"There's no way to go to every fire and keep up the manpower, the equipment, and just the funding for the fire department," Crocker said.

Full story: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/tennessee-family-home-burns-while-firefighters-watch-191241763.html
_________________________________________________________________________________________

Mayor Crockett mentioned the key concept: It takes money to operate a fire department. Just like car and house insurance, except that it’ a higher priority.

Or at least it should be a higher priority. How much money would security cam footage reveal that Ms. Bell spent in local convenience stores on non-essential items in the weeks prior to her trailer fire? I wonder if the amount equals or exceeds seventy-five dollars.

By the way, South Fulton city residents pay taxes to be included in fire protection.
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Re: Firefighting? Or money-making scheme?

Post by Shirina on Wed Dec 07, 2011 5:54 pm

How much money would security cam footage reveal that Ms. Bell spent in local convenience stores on non-essential items in the weeks prior to her trailer fire? I wonder if the amount equals or exceeds seventy-five dollars.
Probably not much. I can't say with certainty who these people are, but the demographics of people living in a trailer in rural Tennessee indicates that they probably don't have a lot of money.
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Re: Firefighting? Or money-making scheme?

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:17 pm

RockOnBrother wrote:
How much money would security cam footage reveal that Ms. Bell spent in local convenience stores on non-essential items in the weeks prior to her trailer fire? I wonder if the amount equals or exceeds seventy-five dollars.
Shirina wrote:
Probably not much. I can't say with certainty who these people are, but the demographics of people living in a trailer in rural Tennessee indicates that they probably don't have a lot of money.

Wouldn’t need to be much. The demographics also suggest a culture similar to East Texas, a similarity to which I can personally attest, a similarity the genesis of which is concisely encapsulated in this riddle:

  • Q: “What should a Texan say when greeting a Tennessean?”
  • A: “Thank you.”

East Texans hit convenience stores hard on Friday and Saturday evenings, easily spending ten dollars or more a pop on non-essential items. That’s a minimum of twenty dollars per weekend, or eighty dollars every four weeks, a pattern I believe is replicated in East Tennessee, so by “sucking it up” for twenty-eight days, Ms. Bell could have saved the required seventy-five dollar fee and had enough left over to my consulting fee of five Fort-four Ounce Super Big Gulp Diet Mountain Dews (easy on the ice), a non-essential item routinely purchased by me from my local convenience store (“Hit It And Quit It”) at ninety-six cents a pop, for working out the math for her.
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Re: Firefighting? Or money-making scheme?

Post by Shirina on Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:47 pm

I think you're missing the larger issue here, Rock. This isn't about how much money Ms. Bell spent at the convenience store - not that you can prove she ever spent a single penny in one - but the morality of turning a fire department into a subscription service. This isn't cable television or a porn site. It's an integral part of a functioning society.

I don't have a lot of sympathy for Ms. Bell since she admits she just flat-out refused to pay it. The main issue here is the inherent moral dilemma in privatizing protective services. Do we really want to live in a society where money overrides basic morality? Are the fire fighters really in the business for that $75 fee? I thought they were supposed to be heroes, not mercenaries. I suppose this is why the IAFF has denounced them, and when firefighters denounce their own, you should sit up and take notice.
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Re: Firefighting? Or money-making scheme?

Post by Guest on Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:54 pm

Shirina wrote:
This isn't about how much money Ms. Bell spent at the convenience store - not that you can prove she ever spent a single penny in one…

I don’t need to prove it; I know the pattern well enough to hock my house and bet the meager proceeds that she routinely spends money, either in the local convenience store or some other venue such as Dollar Store or “Jimmy’s Tackle and Hunting Supplies, down on Highway 32 just past the oak tree”, on non-essential items in amounts that quickly add up to seventy0five dollars.

Shirina wrote:
… but the morality of turning a fire department into a subscription service. . This isn't cable television or a porn site.

The South Fulton City Fire Department is a public service fubnded by the taxpayers of the City of South Fulton to provide fire protection for the residents of South Fulton. The South Fulton City Fire Department is not “a subscription service” like “cable television or a porn site.”

Shirina wrote:
It's an integral part of a functioning society.

No, it is most definitely not “an integral part of a functioning society.” East Texas residents of a certain city and county have no local fire department; they have a volunteer fire department which has inter-cooperative contracts with a multitude of other local volunteer fire departments. Nothing in the constitution or laws of Tennessee require a county to provide public fire departments.

Shirina wrote:
I don't have a lot of sympathy for Ms. Bell since she admits she just flat-out refused to pay it.

Neither do I. My sympathy is reserved for any minor children that Ms. Bell’s refusal might have put in jeopardy.

Shirina wrote:
The main issue here is the inherent moral dilemma in privatizing protective services.

Since no one is “privatizing” fire protection in South Fulton, there is neither a “main issue” nor an “inherent moral dilemma” herein; conversely, there is the matter of funding a public fire department. It’s normally done through property taxes, paid directly or indirectly, by residents of the area served, in this case the City of South Fulton.

Shirina wrote:
Do we really want to live in a society where money overrides basic morality?

Three things money doesn’t do in America USV:

  1. Money doesn’t override morality;

  2. Money doesn’t grow on trees;

  3. Money doesn’t fall from the sky.

One thing money does do in America UWSV:

  1. Money funds local public fire departments.


Shirina wrote:
Are the fire fighters really in the business for that $75 fee?

No.

Shirina wrote:
I thought they were supposed to be heroes…

They are.

Shirina wrote:
… not mercenaries.

They aren’t.

Shirina wrote:
I suppose this is why the IAFF has denounced them, and when firefighters denounce their own, you should sit up and take notice [italics added by me].

Perhaps the IAFF ought to announce supplemental funding collected from its member agencies worldwide and delivered to the City of South Fulton to pay the seventy-five dollar fee for every non-resident of South Fulton who has not paid said fee.
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Re: Firefighting? Or money-making scheme?

Post by dimsum on Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:05 pm

I saw on another board that if they do not pay let the home burn. I told her it was taxes that paid for fire protection which we all pay,the fees were extra. Now I do not call those so called firemen, firemen at all Would they have saved someone if they havd been in the trailer or would they let them die too? Farfetched? Nope. In California they let a man drown because they were told that water rescues funding had been cut so they would lose their jobs if they went in and saved the man. I would of saved him and told them to shove their job. But no cowards all IMO
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Re: Firefighting? Or money-making scheme?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Dec 09, 2011 7:23 pm

Most people understand the principle that you get what you pay for.

There are however commonsense exceptions. A family home without water or sanitation represents a health threat to the entire Community, so the neighbours would be wise to remedy that situation before it involves them as well.

Why should the occupants of a top-floor flat concern themselves with flood insurance, and why should those in the basement pay to fix the roof?
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