Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Pay to Spray

In this small area in Tennesse, a man's house burned down because he didn't pay the (non-required) fee of $75 for fire coverage. (see story here).

Mr. Cranick lives outside the city limits and doesn't pay city taxes. The city offers fire protection to county residents and (presumably) uses the fees to help fund their fire fighting activities. Mr Cranick admits he didn't pay the fee last year, but has paid for several years in the past. It just slipped his mind last year. He offered to pay when the house was on fire, but fire fighters told him it was too late.

One troubling comment in the story is made by the city manager who said "We have to follow the rules and the ordinances set forth to us." Another part of the article says "When a household has not paid the fee, firefighters are required by law to not respond." (It's not clear what law is referenced here).

I have to confess, I have mixed emotions here. I have serious, unanswered questions, about what law, if any, specifies that the firefighters are required to "not respond". I also feel that, the fire fighters had an obligation to respond.

But I also feel that Mr. Cranick is trying to buy insurance after the fact. What would happen if people only paid when their house caught fire? Supposed you bought cancer insurance after a cancer diagnosis or life insurance after a loved one died?

While my emotions are mixed, it's pretty clear to me where the law should come down on this. My emotions can be satisfied by neighbors helping Mr. Cranick out. And if I lived in the area, I'd pay the $75.


David said...

My feelings aren't mixed at all. I think the city administrators should be locked up.

For one, the man offered to pay the full cost of fighting the fire at the scene and was refused,

And second, I've heard the mans pets died in the fire. The way I see it, the city is responsible for animal cruelty at the very least.

David said...

Forgot to click the subscribe by email box.

Randy said...

David, thanks for your comments. I hadn't heard the part about the pets dieing in the fire, I appreciate the additional information.

There's a lot about this story that seems to be missing. For example, the article specifically states that the firefighters were PROHIBITED by law from responding. What kind of law is that? And my most important question not answered in the article is, was Mr. Cranick given a 2nd (and maybe even 3rd or more) notice on failure to pay his fee?

But my real question is, how far to fire fighters go outside there "territory" to respond? And who pays their salary? They need to be paid every day, not just on days there is a fire. Should South Fulton annex the entire county, so they can have the tax revenue to pay the fire fighters? Or should the city of Fulton, Ky (just across the street) send their fire fighters?

What if the city had responded, then there was a fire inside the city? A tax-paying citizen could have lost his home, his pets (and maybe even his life). Would that have been fair?

It's hard to be specific given the lack of specificity in the article, but in general, I agree: Pay to Spray.

David said...

It's my understanding that the city did respond. They sent a truck that refused to take action until the fire spread to an adjoining property (so $75 doesn't get any proactive fire protection).

And again, I've heard the person offered to pay the full cost of fighting the fire. Why was that not accepted?

I'm trying very hard not to hold anything against the firefighters, but the fact that anyone (much less firefighters) could sit and watch a persons home burn to the ground is absolutely disgusting. No, it's beyond disgusting.

I hate the reference, but all I can think of is the Nazi's who claimed to be just following orders. If it's not right, and you KNOW it's not right, than you have no excuse for letting it happen.

Randy said...

David, there's conflicting information about the situation. My understanding was that the city responded after the neighbor called. When Mr. Cranick called, they simply said "you're not on the list."

As for the payment, it wasn't clear to me if he offered to pay the full cost of fighting the fire, or the $75 (my impression was the $75).

It would be interesting to hear (if they exist) the 911 tapes and if there were a civil/criminal case, to hear all of the details laid out in facts. Until then, I won't rush to make judgment on this specific case.

But, compare this to insurance. Should insurance companies be forced to payout after an accident?