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FIRE!!! October 6, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, People.
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220px-Lightning_hits_treeResidents of rural Obion County, Tennessee 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, they’re on their own.

A recent house fire started by the homeowner’s grandson has sparked debate.

Should firefighters have doused the flames despite the fact that the homeowner had not subscribed to the annual fire-fighting service?

The debate has grown heated:

Because of Unpaid Fees, Firefighters Let House Burn

Rural Tennessee Fire Sparks Debate

For a $75annual contribution, this devastated home owner could have protected himself, his home, and his possessions.  He didn’t send in the $75 fee to subscribe to the firefighting service.

He claims he forgot.  That it slipped his mind.  Maybe he’s telling the truth.

But, maybe, he “gambled” that he wouldn’t need their services by choosing  not to submit the requested fee.  If so, he lost that gamble.

Our actions and omissions (even unintentional) have consequences.  Mr. Cranick learned that lesson the hard way.

Here’s a gamble that’s probably a safe bet . . . homeowners in that county will remember to support their local Fire Department in the future by sending in the $75 subscription fee.

Related Post:  Rural Tennessee Fire (booksphotograpshand artwork)

Comments»

1. Richard W Scott - October 6, 2010

Nancy, I often agree with you, and while I believe you are right that these people gambled, I cannot believe one human being would let another’s house burn down because of a $75 fee, when they had the ready means to prevent it.

I reported on this yesterday, and discovered that the family plead with the firechief–who had come to put out a fire in a neighbor’s field–to help. They offered any amount of money (understanable) to save their home.

They were told, “sorry, you had your chance,” and the firemen watched the home burn.

We’ve come a long ways from the days of bucket brigades, and from neighbors taking care of each other, haven’t we?

Fire prevention and emergency services should never be a business in my opinion. What if a doctor came upon a man choking to death. Should he ask if the man could pay, or should he save his life?

I agree that we–as a nation–often take the stand that the world owes us a living, and I think we do need to take care or ourselves, pay our bills, fulfill our obligations… but I think it is the obligation of a fire department to do more than just stand around and watch as a person’s home burns to the ground.

nrhatch - October 6, 2010

I don’t disagree with you. But there are two sides to this issue.

We have become rather dependent on others to step up and help us when, with a little effort, we could have helped ourselves.

That said, I could NOT watch my neighbor’s house burn down just because they didn’t pay $75.

Richard W Scott - October 6, 2010

))

nrhatch - October 6, 2010

If asked to “judge” what happened, I’d need more information:

Did this homeowner pay the $75 fee every other year?

What about other county residents ~ are they slow to pay?

Is the fire department raking in the bucks, or barely squeaking by?

I’d also advocate a change in the rule that kept firefighters from fighting the fire . . .

For example, either pay $75 up front to subscribe OR you will pay the actual cost of equipment rental and manpower to fight the blaze PLUS a $500 penalty fee.

2. Paula Tohline Calhoun - October 6, 2010

Your last comment I completely agree with, Nancy. The consequence of not paying your $75 up front is footing the bill for the entire job. There also should be (maybe there are) different ways of paying your subscription; for instance $6.25 a month might be more viable for many than a single $75 chunk. Also – if you rent the home, who is responsible? The owner or the tenant? What if the owner, unbeknown to the tenant did not pay – does the tenant have to watch his house and possessions burn down? It seems to me that if you live in that town, the $75 annual fee ought to be part of the insurance payment – and that any reasonable insurance company would include that as a required rider on all policies for citizens of that community.

I cannot conceive any situation in which a house should be left to burn! There really is no excuse if the manpower and equipment is available. A fire department might not know just looking whether someone is inside or not! (Emergencies don’t always provide enough time to do account record-checking either!)Personal responsibility is a quality lacking in many, and there are many other useful object lessons that are not so destructive; but house fires (even empty houses) are not good areas in which to teach it – especially since fire is so unpredictable – one errant spark, and it’s Chicago all over again! (And forget Mrs. O’Leary’s cow!)

The Golden Rule always applies – no exceptions, regardless of how tempting teaching a lesson in some respects may seem.

Thus endeth the rant! 😀

(I confess to not having read the stories around this incident, so I am speaking entirely hypothetically!)

nrhatch - October 6, 2010

Nice rant which doesn’t really sound like a rant at all. Good questions, comments, and observations.

From a legal perspective, when someone is NOT under an obligation to provide assistance, they step into the role of Good Samaritan if they choose to act.

If they offer assistance which makes the situation worse, they open themselves up to lawsuits even though they had no obligation to act to begin with. Good Samaritans have been sued for “stepping up to the plate” to assist, instead of standing by and watching the situation unfold.

Some states have Good Samaritan laws to protect them. Others don’t.

It may be that the Fire Department has no insurance to cover claims of negligence, or to cover injuries sustained by the firemen, UNLESS the homeowner has subscribed to the fire protection service.

In that case, they would risk liability by “volunteering” to assist non-subscribers.

3. Paula Tohline Calhoun - October 6, 2010

I understand and accept that argument from the legal point of view, it’s just that I can’t buy it. As I lawyer, I’m sure you must know of cases where good people have been punished for doing what they thought was right – i.e. “Good Samaritan” situations. It’s tragedy that the legal system has been twisted in such a way, although there are arguments that could be made that ignorant, unskilled, and careless help is worse than no help at all! But we have all heard of instances when people have sought to make their fortunes by using such laws to their own selfish advantage. Oh well. Like Ogden Nash said, “‘Cause when people start hitching their wagons to a star, that’s the way they are.”

It is a very complicated issue, and it really shouldn’t be. But I’ve a feeling that it will only get more complicated as our laws get more and more stretched out of shape trying to accommodate each and every nuance of a legal situation. Oh well. I guess my “rant” is based on the fact that as for me (and my house), I will always try to do what is “right” and “ethical” first, before considering what is merely “legal.” I’m quite certain it could get me in trouble in some situations, but at least my conscience would be clear! ;-D

Reading over this comment I realize that the lack of sleep has really caught up with me. It makes no sense whatsoever. . .

nrhatch - October 6, 2010

As you say, it’s a very complicated issue. Life, these days, is complicated.

4. cindy - October 6, 2010

Just plain sad 😦

nrhatch - October 6, 2010

It is.

5. souldipper - October 6, 2010

Nancy, I did a meditation on this situation and ended up with a question:

“Was the decision – to NOT put the fire out – motivated by a desire to do the best for all?”

I ought to have expected that – my intuitive forces do not operate in “separateness”. These messages likely need to stay on my blog, but every time I head for the delete key on this one, I get a pull on my spiritual ear!

I am curious whether or not a judge would ask that question.

nrhatch - October 6, 2010

Excellent question.

At this point, I expect that there is no cause of action for a judge to hear.

The firemen may have had a MORAL obligation or responsibility to act, but I doubt they had a LEGAL obligation to do so.

Judges may address questions like that in family custody disputes, but probably not in Contract or Negligence cases.

BTW: I don’t mind you sharing your messages here.

6. MARLENE LA MURA - October 6, 2010

THIS ALL GIVES ME A HORRIBLE FEELING OF DREAD. GROWING UP, MY FATHER WAS A VOLUNTEER FIREMAN. MY MOM WAS A LADIES AUXILARY MEMBER. (I TRIED TO BE A VOLUNTEER FIRST AIDER BUT BACK THEN THEY BLACKBALLED WOMEN WHO TRIED-IN MY TOWN). THOSE TIMES ARE JUST ABOUT AT END, AS EXHIBITED BY THE AFOREMENTIONED CATASTROPHY. SUPPOSE THE HOUSE WAS TENANT OCCUPIED & THE LANDLORD HAD NOT PAID? I CAN’T HELP BUT FEEL APPALLED THAT A LACK OF HUMANITY IS SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL..AND EVERYTHING IS ABOUT MONEY..

nrhatch - October 6, 2010

Marlene ~ Was that the Colts Neck Fire Company?

MARLENE LA MURA - October 6, 2010

NOPE..YE OLDE MORGANVILLE(IN MARLBORO TOWNSHIP)..CURRENTLY, BY POP CULTURE STANDARDS, SYNONYMOUS WITH VAMPIRES…

7. MARLENE LA MURA - October 6, 2010

WOW NANCY! SPIRIT LIGHTS THE WAY IS “MAGIC”!

nrhatch - October 6, 2010

Thanks for noticing! 🙂

8. booksphotographsandartwork - October 7, 2010

inspite of the situation the photo with that caption is funny!

nrhatch - October 7, 2010

Sometimes a spoonful of humor makes the medicine go down.

I hope firefighters (and homeowners) everywhere take a good look at current rules, regs, and policies to make sure that they don’t find themselves in this type of untenable situation down the road.


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