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.