Didn't Pay $75 Fee? Firefighters Watch Your Home Burn To Ground

A Tennessee man watched in horror last week as flames consumed his house. Also watching? The local subscription-based fire department. The man had not paid his $75 firefighting fee, so the firemen would not lift a finger or a hose.

Only after the fire spread to his neighbor’s field would the firemen even respond to his 911 calls. Once there, they only put out the field fire as his house continued to burn to a crisp. His neighbor had paid his firefighting fee.

“I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,” the hapless homeowner told reporters.

The man offered to pay them the fee right then and there, or however much it took to get them to put out the fire, but was refused. The man lives in a county that has no fire protection. The nearby town offers fire protection to non-residents on a per-contract basis.

“Anybody that’s not in the city of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer, either they accept it or they don’t,” the mayor told WPSD.

Later someone went to the fire station and assaulted one of the fire fighters.

Firefighters watch as home burns to the ground [WPSD] (Thanks to Justin!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. danmac says:

    Holy shit…this is about as good an argument for the continued socialization of emergency services as it gets.

    • Doubts42 says:

      Not really. I bet I pay more than $75.00 a year in taxes to support my fire department. This is just Darwin at work. He chose to risk not being covered. It was a poor choice.

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        And by doing so he endangered his neighbors. The stupidity of one is not a reason to endanger all.

        • Cicadymn says:

          Not really.

          His neighbors paid the fee. The firefighters came out and protected their homes.

          The system works.

          • Anonymously says:

            If the system really worked, the $75 would also cover “Stop my house from catching on fire because my neighbor’s house is on fire”.

            • MikieJag says:

              It did, that is why they responded. Because it was starting to endanger the neighbor that did pay the fee.

      • Aphex242 says:

        According to the county, it would have cost homeowners a .13% increase in property taxes to include this service automatically.

        For most people, it would have been less than $75. For some, a lot more. I guess we know which camp won that fight, huh?

        • petey says:

          Our leaders are too frightened of being voted out of office to actually provide any leadership. Nobody likes taxes, but they are necessary to keeping our republic strong.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        I’d actually rather pay more in taxes and not have to worry about forgetting to pay it, but that’s me.

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          Agreed. This may not have been a “privatized” fire dept., but that is exactly what would happen if fire and police departments became privatized.

          • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

            That and Robocop.

          • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

            That and Robocop.

          • zantafio says:

            I bet you that if fire departments were privatized, there would be a huge spike in arson.

            1. Set houses on fire
            2. ????
            3. PROFIT!

          • Johnny Rotten says:

            That was a West Virginia thing – they got paid for each fire they DID put out. So for a few years, an above average number of wild fires broke out. After the payment system was changed, the wild fire count went down again.

            I think this incident could be brought up as an argument to those who are in the “taxes are evil” club. Taxes do tend to pay for services you need.

            As far as the fire department and their actions: Be a f$*%@ing human. To be on the scene with their equipment and do nothing? Disgusting. The people who put the policy in place without working with the county to come up with a fine system? Complete a$$hats.

            Sooner or later someone will be killed trying to put out a fire on their own, or will delay calling the fire department and someone will be in the house and will perish. All for $75. Yes, the homeowner will be morally guilty of that, but imho, so will those who put the policy in place, and those who had the means to keep it from happening, but stood on the sidelines while it happened.

        • Cicadymn says:

          Sure are generous with other peoples money because of your lack of responsibility.

        • CarnivorousPETA says:

          Do explain how his tax money belongs to anybody else.

          • Crim Law Geek says:

            Because that’s how taxes work, you Teatard. A bit of your money, and my money, and everybody else’s money goes to pay for stuff for all of us, like fire departments, police, healthcare, military defense, etc,

      • EWU_Student says:

        Agreed. Folks make gambles like this all the time, from the large to the small: Building a house on a floodplain, living without health insurance, to not plugging the parking meter. Some win, some lose big.

        $75/12 = $6.25/month for fire service? That seems like a pretty cheap deal to me. Certainly cheaper than what my fire service ends up costing me (through taxes/fire department levy)

      • TheWillow says:

        What happens if the total number of $75 fees the department takes in in one year is less than it costs to run the fire department? Does it shut down, or does it use other government funds (aka taxes) to support itself?

        • Cicadymn says:

          How is it possible to be so damn stupid?


          That means that the nearby city citizens were getting taxed for the fire department. They all had protection. To help out those people in the unincorporated area, the mayor offered a small $75 a year fee to get fire protection.

          The jackass OP thought he was invincible and nothing would ever happen to him. He deserved what he got. I’d bet money he didn’t have homeowners insurance either.

          • TheWillow says:

            Fine. then let the dude pay triple the cost to have them put out the fire AFTER it started. Otherwise you’re not actually a human being, you’re a robot.

          • c!tizen says:

            Yeah, what an asshole. It’s not like people are having a hard time financially right now and having to make tough choices about what bills to pay so their families can eat. It’s a good thing you have all the facts about the family to make such a brasin comment. I mean, no way you’d go out and say something like that without knowing all of the circumstances, right? You know for a fact that he thought he was invincible and he doesn’t have homeowners, right?

            $75.00 is a small fee to you, so it stands to reason that it’s completely affordable for everyone, right? I mean, I have a job so it’s fair for me to assume that all of the Americans out of work right now are just lazy fuckers that want everything handed to them, cause if I can get up and come to work then so can they… economy be damned. Get over yourself.

            • greggen says:

              Home ownership has costs involved.. You dont pay those costs, you can lose your home.. Simple as that..

          • El_Fez says:

            So just how much was the operation to have your heart removed and replaced with a lump of coal, anyway?

          • theycallmeGinger says:

            How far are you willing to take your crappy argument? If he died, would he have deserved it? If his entire family perished, did they deserve it? I think the man deserves a severe and very costly fine. But allowing his house and pets to be destroyed — that’s not comparable to a missed payment of $75.

            Stop acting like you know who this guy is. So far I’ve only seen bitter responses from you like you’re the victim. Try countering a logical argument.

      • c!tizen says:

        So what happens when someone who pays the $75.00 fee loses their house to a fire because the FD didn’t respond fast enough? Do they get a refund? How about if their service wasn’t used all year, do they get that back?

        This is total crap, it’s the equivalent of a group of people standing around watching as someone gets attacked for no reason; because hey… I didn’t get paid to help. We’re all people, human beings, and I’m sure it wouldn’t kill us to act like it every once in a while. Anyone that believes that this family deserved to not only have their house burn down, but also to have the fire department watch as it happend because of a $75.00 bill has some serious mental issues… and I mean that in the most insulting way possible.

        Bill these people after the fact, hell tripple the charge and add 15% gratuity if you want, but help them when they need it. I’ve never said this about a fire fighter before, but what a bunch of douche bags. We’re not talking about a lot of cash here, and they were out there anyway. It’s comforting to know that the people you depend on for help can be so heartless. I’m glad I don’t live anywhere near these jack-asses.

        • danmac says:

          Thank you so much for writing this…I can’t stand the heartlessness of people here sometimes…

        • Doubts42 says:

          No, it is equivalent to someone choosing not to buy insurance for several years because they felt healthy. Then when they develop cancer expecting to be able to sign up for insurance then.

          It is not heartless, it is practical. heartless would be overextending the FD and forcing them to cover everyone, then having the houses of folks who have paid their taxes and fees burn down because the FD was underbudgeted and overextended.

          • theycallmeGinger says:

            No, you’re wrong. If you read what c1tizen actually said, you would have figured that out. The point is that you charge the person the cost of the rescue, not the cost of the insurance. No loss for the party that is rescuing you. And, as a bonus, you get rescued! See how it works? This all could have been avoided if they did their job and then billed him for it. No loss of house or pets. Instead, pig-headedness prevailed and a tragedy occurred.

            • hypochondriac says:

              and how are they supposed to collect? Legally they can’t take the home owner to court. Do you think someone who skips paying $75 a year would willing pay a few hundred dollars when he didn’t have to?

              • theycallmeGinger says:

                I’m not sure how they would get away with not paying. IANAL, but if a hospital, the Coast Guard, or any other emergency service provider can charge you, I would think a fire dep’t could, too. They are extending themselves as pay-for-service in this town, so it seems they would be justified in sending a bill. And then if he doesn’t pay it, take him to court.

          • LandruBek says:

            No, it is heartless.

          • frank64 says:

            If you don’t have insurance, you would normally have to pay the full, real cost of the service. They could charge someone the real cost of the putting out the fire, that includes the annual overhead and cost of equipment, plus the direct costs. It could even be several thousand dollars, but it it better, and more human than watching someones house burn.

            This must be an issue that was known to everyone there, this should not have happened, and the guy definitely should have paid the $75. And as others have said, how could a mortgage or home insurance happen without fire protection?

          • El_Fez says:

            Actually, it is heartless.

        • Costner says:

          Some people might pay that $75 fee for 30 years and never need it, but that is the same concept as insurance.

          If anything, they should charge $7500 for anyone without such a permit, as that would be incentive for people to actually pay the fee upfront. Otherwise, if the “after the fact” penalty is a mere three or four times the annual fee… who the heck would bother to pay the fee in the first place? The odds are you will never need it – and thus nobody would pay it. If nobody paid, there would be no funding for the fire department and their services, response times, equipment etc would all suffer as a direct result.

          This guy took a gamble – he lost. He has nobody to blame other than himself. Frankly this isn’t the first time this has happened and all the fire department does is ensure nobody is getting hurt. When it boils down to property being impacted, they have zero duty to act if the man didn’t pay his fee. Why risk their lives or incur the expense for someone didn’t feel their services were worth $75 a year?

          I have zero sympathy for this man. He got what he asked for plain and simple. Maybe some others in the area will now wise up and this can be a teachable moment.

    • Preyfar says:

      I gotta agree.

      How can you watch a man’s home and life burn to the ground and just go “You should paid your $75.” That’s pretty damn heartless, subscription service or NOT.

      • jeffjohnvol says:

        He probably moved outside the county to save money on taxes. That is the risk he took, and it bit him in the butt. I hope he gets back on his feet and I hope he had homeowners insurance.

        • Preyfar says:

          Considering that the fire started from his two barrels… the insurance may not cover it since they can argue he started the fire himself.

      • madmallard says:

        you do realise, this guy was outside the city limits of this particular fire department’s jurisdiction, right? The incorporated county does not maintain a standing fire department of its own

        The city fire department offers their services to other cities and the cost is $75 a year in fees. You could call that a voluntary tax for those people.

        How heartless is it that the firefighters aren’t getting paid a living? Was it reported how many years had this guy not paid the neighboring city for this?

      • denros says:

        So many things about this hurt my brain, but these make my prefrontal cortex ache the most:

        1) WHY SHOW UP AT ALL. Do they crosscheck his name once they get to the house?

        2) HOW is this teaching him any kind of lesson? he has no more house!

        If I were the guy, I would have said “OH NO LOOK! RIOTERS ARE IN THE FIRE! TO THE HOSES!”

        • WhyNotTry says:

          FTA, “Only after the fire spread to his neighbor’s field would the firemen even respond to his 911 calls.”

          Sounds like they showed up to put out his neighbors field, not just to watch his house burn down.

      • iakiak says:

        I think its reasonable that the Firemen didn’t put out the fire.
        With the system that’s in place there’s no way that they could have accepted a payment at the door or even a large fine afterwards. It would set a precedent and could lead to fewer subscriptions in future which could mean mean upfront costs for maintaining the system would not be met.
        For those of you saying it was heartless of the firefighters there already watching and not doing anything. On a personal level yes, and I’m pretty sure they wanted to and if there were any lives at risk I’m sure they would have. However from a corporate point of view I’m sure there was a risk of losing their jobs or other reprimands if they did put out a fire of a non-subscriber.

        So stop calling people heartless because there was no-one at fault, it is the system that is there so if anything it is the ‘company’ that is heartless and well we all know that already.

    • DanRydell says:

      It sounds like the fire department was funded by the government – the government of a city the OP didn’t live in. He apparently lives in an unincorporated area with no fire department, so it’s his responsibility to pay for the service from the neighboring city.

      Asking to pay the fee after your house is on fire is like trying to buy insurance to cover something that has already happened.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        That’s exactly what happened and why the situation is as messed up as it is.

        The city is under no obligation to provide emergency services outside of its jurisdictional boundaries. People who live in the city pay taxes for mandatory fire coverage. People who live outside of the city have the option to opt in to the fire protection.

      • TheWillow says:

        asking to pay more than the fee after your house is on fire is like… trying to pay for a hospital visit even though you didn’t have insurance. Why exactly wasn’t he allowed to do that?

        • Doubts42 says:

          No it is like trying to buy insurance after you get sick.

        • greggen says:

          Because he was trying to game the system. He thought he could get a freeride and is now upset that his smarter neighbor paid the required fees..

          This is why everyone should be required to have health insurance.

          • TheWillow says:

            Even if he WAS trying to game the system, why couldn’t they charge him say, $250 to put it out on the spot. It’s not like you can’t go to a hospital and pay out of pocket.

            • Gulliver says:

              The fee is not to put out a specific fire. The idea is if YOUR house catches on fire, the rest of what you and your neighbors paid funds it. It is fire protection insurance. Legally the firefighters could not put out the fire. If one got hurt, they would not be covered under their insurance. I guess this guy now realizes that not having a plan for the event something might happen makes him feel like an idiot.

              • dangermike says:

                If they refused to put it out, it’s a fire protection RACKET. The department could easily have written him a bill to cover all the time and liabilities incurred in fighting the fire. And the fact that towns and counties are shirking fire, police, and emergency costs while paying exorbitant salaries to completely non-essential employees is a horrifying sign of the times that must be harshly corrected.

                • wackydan says:


                  If the guy wouldn’t spend $75 a year for fire service what makes you think that he is reliable enough to pay the four figure cost of fighting the fire?

                  There is a reason they don’t bill at time of fire or post fire, they are not a billing department, a collection agency, etc… They fight fires, and offer to fight fires in the next county for a nominal insurance type cost structure. That community with out a fire company already voted down taxes to start their own fire company…. They have done it to themselves… have no pity.

      • Anonymously says:

        So the problem is that he lived in an area not covered by socialized emergency services…so point proven?

        Also, it’s a sad day for brave firefighters when you can compare them to heartless insurance companies.

        • rooben says:

          Isn’t it? because refusing to fight a fire because of a non-paid fee is EXACTLY what insurance companies do.

          I know doctors have to swear an oath, and have to save lives no matter what the fee is, but I guess Firefighters don’t have that same concept, to protect no matter what.

          • tomz17 says:

            Duty :

            To protect lives… yes…
            To risk their lives to save your property… no…

            The firefighters were there “watching the house burn” to :
            #1) Ensure nobody needed their lives saved
            #2) Ensure that the neighbors property (who paid his $75) didn’t catch fire

            • superberg says:

              And that isn’t akin to a doctor watching a person die, but making sure no one else gets sick? Or a police office watching a man get beaten, but making sure the offender doesn’t attack anyone else?

              Hey, I’m all for fining the hell out of the guy. But standing around and watching a house burn? That’s straight-up cruel. That’s self-righteous, passive-aggressive misanthropy of the highest order. You know how they could have kept the fire from spreading? BY PUTTING IT OUT.

            • RvLeshrac says:

              So you’re saying that if the guy hadn’t paid the $75, but someone was in the house, they *would* have put out the fire?

              Then what’s to stop the “freeloaders” from just claiming someone is in the house? Let them burn! Clearly, anyone who can’t afford the $75 doesn’t deserve to live.

              If I hadn’t already removed my shoes, I’d bang one on the table just to emphasize how batshit-insane the Republican mayor and council who designed this policy are.

      • NashuaConsumerist says:

        While I agree he should have paid the fee up front comparing this to insurance isn’t as appropriate as it would seem on the face. Granted, it’s silly to consider buying insurance after the accident but these firefighter had a chance to prevent the loss of a house. The house wasn’t on fire at that point, they could have collected $75 plus dollars to wet a shed. They make money, the house is fine, everyone is happy. If they called AFTER the house was already on fire then I would agree with the comparison to car insurance but that’s not the case.

        With that aside, if I were a fire fighter on seen I would have said ‘screw it’ and try and save someones home, even if it mean putting my job on the line. It’s called being a human being.

        • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

          It’s called being a human being… which now costs an extra $75.

          Gotta wonder, if the house was a relative’s of one of the firefighters and didn’t happen to pay the subscription fee, would they have still done nothing?

          Looks like that FD is becoming more like the PD.

        • Charles Bronson says:

          Except that if you let people pay the fee once the fire has started and the FD is on-site, you’re proving that nobody has to pay the fee unless they need the service. That’s why this is compared to insurance — the point is everybody pays a small fee all the time so that when that rare situation happens where expensive action is needed, the money is there. if everyone knows they don’t have to pay the fee until their house is already on fire, the FD won’t have the money to pay the bills. It’s not like $75 is the actual cost of putting out a fire.

          If they wanted to set up a system where you can pay $75/year OR pay $5,000 (or whatever it costs) once your house is on fire, then that would be fair. People could then make an educated decision and nobody would be completely without the ability to have the fire extinguished (unless they don’t have $5,000).

          • Crim Law Geek says:

            That’s exactly how every subscription fire service I know of operates (although the only ones I had heard of had “suggested donations”). If you pay the fee/donation, they respond to your fire for no additional fee. If you don’t pay the fee, you get charged the department’s costs to fight your fire (which is generally paid for by your insurance).

        • HighontheHill says:

          I disagree with the notion of allowing him to ‘opt-in’ after the fact, the subscription is to a service, these funds are used to equip and maintain a trained group of firefighters with all the various vehicles and implements necessary to do the job and these monies are necessary whether or not there are actually any fires to extinguish. To allow everyone within the coverage area of this subscription to opt-in when they are on fire undermines the process and allows them to glom on only when they need a fire put down, leaving no operating funds to keep the system generally afloat.

          No, sorry, in this case his short-sited decision to not subscribe cost him dearly. He clearly made the wrong decision and that would most certainly have been the best $75 he ever spent; but he chose not to, it’s on him….

      • TouchMyMonkey says:

        I live in an unincorporated area, and I have fire service. It’s included in my town property taxes.

        What I want to know is, what bank would write up a mortgage for a house where there is no fire department? By how much a year is this guy’s homeowner’s insurance higher than his neighbors’ because he didn’t want to pay his $75? How much of an idiot do you have to be to think you don’t need a fire department? And finally, what kind of Tea Party idiot politicians thought it was a good idea to make fire protection optional in the first place?

        Oh yeah. This is Tennessee, and not even Al Gore’s Tennessee. They don’t think like us smart people in New York.

        • Powerlurker says:

          If you live in an unincorporated area, you don’t live in a “town” and don’t pay “town” taxes, you pay county taxes and your county appears to have chosen to fund a county fire department or at least pay a local municipal fire department to fight fires for you. The people of this county could have chosen to allow the county to contract with the municipalities on their behalf or fund a county fire department and pay for it through county taxes, but didn’t. Decisions have consequences, some bigger than others. Democracy doesn’t give us the government we want, it gives us the government we deserve.

          • Crim Law Geek says:

            Um, in New York, at least, everyone lives in a Town or City. Parts of Towns may incorporate as a Village. Those living in the Town, but not the Village, would therefore live in the Unincorporated portion of the Town.

            In some places, like Scarsdale and Harrison, people live in a Village that is co-terminal with a Town (a/k/a a Town-Village), and therefore those Towns have no unincorporated areas.

            So basically, you are talking out of your ass.

            • Powerlurker says:

              It looks like New York is particularly weird in that respect. Towns in New York appear to technically be incorporated municipalities of a sort, though villages can incorporate within them. However, New York’s terminology on the matter isn’t very clear.

            • Con Seanne-BZZZZZZZZZZZZ says:

              At least in North Carolina, the state is subdivided into counties which constitute unincorporated areas. Within counties, towns/villages/hamlets/cities/what have you (not quite sure the different terms, but there are several that all amount to “incorporated area”) can form. These can then govern and tax people within them, but anyone beyond the limits of one of these incorporated areas lives in the county, and as such will only pay county taxes and receive county services unless the county has a contract with the city. In many cases, due to historically loose annexation laws, a county resident near a city may have access to services such as water and sewage for a fee, usually after signing some sort of contract asking to be annexed.

              tl;dr not all states work on New York’s system, he may not have been talking out of his ass.

      • Rose says:

        No, it’s not. An insurance company wants to make a profit. A fire department doesn’t. Big operational differences there.

    • SagarikaLumos says:

      Oddly enough, I agree with that. The government is there to provide what the private sector can’t, won’t, or shouldn’t do. Fire service falls strongly into that category. The big problem here isn’t the firefighters or the mayor who wouldn’t fight the fire but the county (and the OP). With the ability to provide the service through a contract, the county should’ve done that. Since the county doesn’t provide it, the OP should’ve paid his subscription.

      • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

        Bullshit. Even if they were privatized, for public safety they should have put out the damn fire… and then sent a bill to the OP if they had to. Besides the appalling lack of ethics of these “firefighters” think of increased insurance rates, diminished tax base and higher taxes, and the need for increased social services in the region. The people who made this decision should be jailed.

        • madmallard says:

          How do you know people who don’t live in a municipality with a standing fire department don’t -already- pay extra insurance premiums because of that?

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          People in the city should provide free fire coverage to residents outside of its jurisdiction?

          • danmac says:

            No, the county should be taxing unincorporated residents and subcontracting fire services with the city so everyone is covered. Barring that, the department should be responding, then billing residents who don’t pay the fee. The bill should reflective the actual cost to fight the fire, not the $75 preventative fee.

            If either of these things happened, this individual would not lose their house.

    • mac-phisto says:

      wait. were we arguing to privatize those services?

      good god what a horrible idea that would be.

    • rage says:

      VT fr t prt rpblcn t yr wn prl.

      • 99 1/2 Days says:

        Strawman. No one is looking to privatise firefighting. And this has nothing to do with it.

        • denros says:

          No, they haven’t specifically mentioned this. In fact, they haven’t even mentioned much else about what’s implied by their mindless parroting of “Smaller government!!!1”
          In fact, that’s the problem. Whenever I ask someone who supports the tea party movement, “ok, smaller government. What exactly do you mean?” They blithely rattle on the same effing campaign rhetoric that’s been excreted and repackaged by every freaking campaign in the last 20+ years “less government waste… campaign limits… more freedom… bla bla bal.”
          So ok, while the tea party hasn’t explicitly said something like this, assume one of them gets elected mayor of a Podunk, only to find out they have take an already strained local budget and try and fulfill their “smaller government” fetish. Doesn’t seem like much of a stretch for shit like this to start happening.

        • eyesack is the boss of the DEFAMATION ZONE says:

          Sure they are. Ask Rand Paul.

    • shibblegritz says:

      For crying out loud … most emergency services are provided on a public basis. The community in question, at some point, made a pro-active decision not to provide fire services. A neighoring jurisdiction offers protection for what is, I’m sure, less than taxed fire service would cost.

      Like many moochers, the homeowner in question opted to take advantage of the system thinking he could get by with a freebie, only paying for the, ahem, insurance, after he needed it. When he got his outstretched hand slapped down, he, and many of you, got whiny.

      You can make all the arguments about good Samaritanism as you want, but there comes a point when people have to carry their own share of the load and make basic, prudent protective actions, or suffer the consequences.

      • c!tizen says:

        …and you have proof that he was getting by with a freebie? You’ve checked to see that he wasn’t unemployed and struggling like millions of other Americans? You’ve made sure that he had the funds to pay this and wasn’t trying to somehow scape enough to cash to make his mortgage payment, again, like millions of other Americans? I can’t stand how quick people are to jump to hate all over other people without knowing anything but small bits of the story.

        Moreover, go ask any fire fighter why they do what they do and see if any of them respond with “the boat loads of cash!” No, I’m willing to bet that the vast majority will say that they do what they do, not to be a hero, but to help people. Well… there was an opportunity to help those in need, and they stood by and watched and did nothing. I get that they aren’t obligated to help because the homeowner didn’t pay his dues, but if I were a fire fighter in that region I’d be hanging my head pretty low right now. If I came across you laying on the floor bleeding I’d do my best to help until a trained professional got there, not because you paid me a fee, but because I’m a human being and that’s what we do.

        • _UsUrPeR_ says:

          “I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,” the hapless homeowner told reporters.”

          That. Right up there.

          • c!tizen says:

            that doesn’t say anything about why he didn’t pay it. Here, let me show you…

            I was laid off of work last year and have been struggling tying to keep food on the table and a roof over our head. I’ve had to sell our car and rely on public transportation just to make the mortgage payment and pay for this months health insurance for my kids. I had the choice to pay for this or to pay for heat for the next few months. Even though I never thought something like this could happen “I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,”

            See there buddy. It’s the context that missing. You have no idea what came before that quote and that is what gets under my skin. No one knows why he didn’t pay it, that’s all I’m saying. Everyone is assuming he was trying to game the system, but come on… it’s not a huge victory to game the system for under $7.00 a month. I’m saying it’s possible that he may not have been able to pay it for a good reason. Even if he didn’t pay it because he was being an ass, fine him later and stick him with the bill for the actual cost, don’t just sit there like a asshole and watch everything he’s worked for burn. It’ makes me sick to think that people like this live on the same planet.

            • Lnc says:

              If he couldn’t afford the $75, it makes his offer to pay the fire dept. whatever it cost to save his house seem pretty hollow.

              I don’t get the impression that he was unable to pay the fee, it seems like he just didn’t bother.

              Count me in with the heartless crowd– he tried to game the system and lost, and while I’m sure its a devastating loss, if they had saved his house, no one would pay the fee, and the town wouldn’t be able to afford to protect any of the homes outside the town limits. Its a lousy situation, but it is what it is. Firefighters need to eat too.

    • freelunch says:

      wait… what?? way over generalization there buddy… an socialization of medicine (when an ER already accepts everybody regardless of economic status) has absolutely nothing to do with firefighting services.

      The guy got what he deserved…. he even acknowledges it in the following quote.
      “I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,”

      • BlownCircuit says:

        Like I used to tell my old boss: “saying it again doesn’t make it any less incorrect.”

      • watch me boogie says:

        Jesus H., how about being a human being.

        • Scryer_360 says:

          Jesus H: how about you stop being a cheapskate? People don’t like people who are all “me me me me me” and demand free services. Its been pointed out here many times that this man had a chance to get fire protection, in the months prior he could of paid the fee and there was a tax initiative on the ballot to setup a fire department for the county. But the people living outside the city do so to avoid taxes.

          The firefighters have to eat more than just “whenever there is a fire.” They also have to pay for equipment and insurance. If they would allow people to just pay “whenever they feel like it” then we’d have a lot of fire departments with tired, stressed out firefighters who after a long day could end up on a midnight call. Thats not a model for a good emergency service, for safety, for anything.

          Want fire protection? Pay your taxes or the damn fee. Don’t make it all the fire departments fault when they don’t work and risk their lives for free.

    • freelunch says:

      wait… what?? way over generalization there buddy… an socialization of medicine (when an ER already accepts everybody regardless of economic status) has absolutely nothing to do with firefighting services.

      The guy got what he deserved…. he even acknowledges it in the following quote.
      “I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,”

    • freelunch says:

      wait… what?? way over generalization there buddy… an socialization of medicine (when an ER already accepts everybody regardless of economic status) has absolutely nothing to do with firefighting services.

      The guy got what he deserved…. he even acknowledges it in the following quote.
      “I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,”

      • theycallmeGinger says:

        Hey there, chief, danmac said “emergency services,” not medicine. The ER isn’t the only example of emergency needs. What do you think the Coast Guard does? Or other rescue services? A house burning down is an emergency (for the owner, neighbors, and town) and requires services to prevent it from killing or injuring people.

        The guy deserves a huge, huge fine to at least cover the cost of the rescue. (You know, the same way that all of these emergency services are handled? It’s not some newfangled idea.) He does not deserve the death of his pets and loss of his house. Get some perspective.

    • runswithscissors says:

      Agreed. Some things are more than just “property” and a home (being filled with memories, often all one’s worldly possessions, and of course being the place one lives) are MORE than simple property, like a car. This is also the fuel for most of the emotion behind foreclosures and such.

      Was the guy stupid for not paying the $75? OF COURSE.

      But not stupid enough to merit homelessness. The policy should be to offer to save the house in exchange for the owner signing an agreement to pay a large fine, like $5000, with a lien on the house to back it up. Firefighters show up and get into position to start fighting the fire while one goes to the owner with the papers to quickly sign.

      No one loses their home, the Fire Dept gets paid for.

      On another note, to all the “I have no sympathy” folks in here:

      Be a f%$^ing human being.

      • kujospam says:

        They wouldn’t be able to do it, because the home owner is under duress. So any contract signed would not hold up in normal circumstances. They would have to use the altered method of contract law like they do with medical problems. Example, you get knocked out, and ems comes and takes you to hospital and you have to pay the bill. Assuming you would want that.

      • Sian says:

        His home insurance should cover it.

        Unless he decided not to pay that too.

        • selianth says:

          I’m surprised his insurance would allow him to NOT pay the fire fee. They should have required it as a condition of covering the house.

      • Scryer_360 says:

        In lieu of that comment, I’m going to tell you to quit being a loser. You can’t just have everything you want because you say so. If they allowed people to only pay whenever there was actually a problem, the firefighters would either starve or have to take other work. Hmmm, that sounds like a perfect fire department, one that is already tired and stressed out when they have to take a call in the middle of the night!

        And the county gave people the chance to setup a fire department earlier this year. On the ballot was a tax to pay for county fire services, people rejected it. Many people don’t live in town exactly so they don’t have to pay taxes for services like this.

    • incident_man says:

      This isn’t socialisation of anything….it’s the direct result of privitisation, just like some boneheads in Congress want to do with Social Security and Medicare. Do yourself a favour: turn Fox Noise off for a while, eh?

      • wackydan says:

        Wrong. It is the failure of the communities in that neighboring county to incorporate and establish a volunteer fire company.

        My father did exactly that in 1954 in our small town. There was no fire department at the time. Today the fire company has two stations and is entirely paid for with various fund raisers.

        It is not rocket science… The blue print has been there for years. The fact that the neighboring communities offer to come to put out fires for a nominal yearly “insurance” type fee is gracious to begin with. Fire trucks and maintenance on heavy equipment, training for the firemen even if volunteers is very expensive.

        Thus is not about socialism versus privatization at all chump.

        • lawgirl502 says:

          finally someone who gets it

        • pawnblue says:

          Yes it’s very gracious for them to stand there and watch it burn while a man begs to pay the fee.

          They were already there. This man was losing everything he had, and they were already there. Was it the cost of the water? You probably already know that they wet down the neighboring houses do help insure they wouldn’t burn. Instead of putting out the fire, they wet other flammable things near the fire.

          Your dad did a good thing in the 1950s. And 5 decades ago, he made sure that no one would have to suffer this fate. This guy wasn’t so as to live near your dad.

          Conservatives need to look at things like this and realize that when people embrace socialism, it’s because conservatives think that literally letting something burn to the ground was better than government involvement.

          • Scryer_360 says:

            By your reasoning, I should be able to go without car insurance, then pay for it when I get in an accident.

          • wackydan says:

            You have any idea what it costs in fuel, maintenance, training to respond to a fire?

            Is it fair that part of one county’s fire department is on a call in the next county responding to a fire they are not reimbursed thus increasing response time and risk to the tax payers in the other county?

            Either they pay the tithe or watch their house burn down… Or the fire department can refuse fire calls across county lines… Take your pick… The citizens of that county have only themselves to blame for their lack of fire services.

            • magus_melchior says:

              Actually, he did offer to pay “whatever it takes”, i.e., NOT THE 75 DOLLAR FEE.

              It’s funny, in a hair-pulling, frustrating way, that people automatically assumed that the guy meant 75 bucks when he begged the FD to put out the fire.

      • Wei says:

        Um, reading comprehension? He said what you said.

        “this is about as good an argument for the continued socialization of emergency services as it gets”

      • Maximus Pectoralis says:

        Is the city of South Fulton, TN a private business? It is an example of what can go wrong when government agencies can’t make common-sense decisions.

    • zibby says:

      Or even for paying for services that you expect to be rendered if that’s the deal. Old fashioned, I know.

    • Jimmy37 says:

      Get real!! It’s not my responsibility to take care of your home. Don’t own a home if you can’t afford to take care of it. Insurance is a cost of homeownership. What about renting? If you start a fire in your apartment and destroy your stuff, who’s going to pay for that? The landlord?

    • Maximus Pectoralis says:

      Can you please point out where the article says it was a privately-run fire department? I don’t see anything indicating as such.

      In fact, it appears that it was a municipal government-run fire department that offered it’s services to unincorporated county residents for a small fee.

      I think it is both funny and distrubing all of the anti-conservative / anti-libertarian drivel here. All this nonsense about privatizing services, and “oh those idiot tea baggers, they know nothing!” This is a perfect example of a GOVERNMENT agency failing to protect the public. I’m sure if it were a private company they would have put out the fire and sent this guy a bill. Instead you have a government agency so rigid in its policies it can’t make a common-sense decision without miles of red tape.

  2. axhandler1 says:
  3. fs2k2isfun says:

    I’m gonna blame the OP on this one. He felt the cost/benefit was in his favor by not spending the $75 and he lost. Sorry pal, but I have no sympathy for you.

    • Aphex242 says:

      This attitude is precisely what’s wrong with this country.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:


      • Osagasu says:

        I would say that a sense of entitlement is what’s wrong with this country.

        This man skimped out of $75. I spend that much on my monthly phone bill, and he only needed to pay that once a year. Also note that nowhere in the article does it say that he forgot, indicating that it was likely a choice. If the firefighters had put it out, the man could have easily turned around and said that it was not a service that he had paid for and that he wouldn’t be paying up.

        This was a harsh lesson to be learned by him, but no one was hurt in the fire itself so he should just take his insurance (if they pay him… he chose not to properly protect his house so they COULD refuse it) and rebuild.

        • Cicadymn says:


          Personal responsibility isn’t even a concept to these people. That’s not very much money for the knowledge knowing your home will be protected.

          It’s also a good lesson for those around him who thought they were above paying for something because they’re invincible.

          • apd09 says:

            Personal responsibility isn’t even a concept to these people.

            I’m guessing you are a republican. This is not a snarky remark, just saying the concept of personal responsibility from an eye for an eye with the death penalty or being against abortion because you chose to have sex knowing that pregnancy could be a result but still did it. All of the republican set of values is predicated on being responsible for your actions.
            It is at the crux of debate between democrats and republicans most of the time and how democrats want to give people a chance to right a mistake they made while republicans want to make people accountable for their actions.

            It’s so funny a small statement like “Personal Responsibility” can be so complex and create such a divide between a country.

            • Dover says:

              I am a liberal-leaning independent but I agree that there is a huge dearth of personal responsibility in this country. I want to help people, but I’m sick of carrying people who are able but refuse to carry their own weight.

            • greggen says:

              Its funny. In my opinion its the ‘personal responsibility’ republicans who are outraged that one of their own, a home owner has suffered this injustice. They are all about personal responsibility when it is others, but they themselves are somehow different..

              • 99 1/2 Days says:

                Wrong. Didn’t you read the comments? This man lost his house due to evil Tea Partiers. And I know leftists think conservatives don’t really mean it when it comes to personal responsibility, but you are wrong there too.

          • theycallmeGinger says:

            Can’t you punish this man by charging him what it costs to put out the fire? Rather than destroy his house, kill his 3 dogs and a cat and then allow the fire to spread to the neighbors’? What if this started a wild fire?

            This point has been made, but needs to be made again. When a person needs help, they usually get it regardless if they have insurance. Then they pay for the service itself. Think of not only emergency rooms but emergency rescues as well. It’s not an unprecedented concept.

            • HighontheHill says:

              I think this is a much more realistic concept, not sure any of these folks could actually pay-up, if you opt-in your fires are covered under your $75 subscription price; if you choose not to opt-in then you will be charged a’ la carte for the full costs of the operation. The problem with the concept is the teeth of actually being able to force payment.

          • Johnny Rotten says:

            “these people”

            Care to elaborate?

        • Marshmelly says:

          Like your sense of entitlement to not help someone whose house is burning to the ground because of some measly fee? Thats what I call entitlement. Helping someone in a serious emergency situation regardless of what they paid or didn’t pay, because you CAN, is what I call being a decent human being.

          What’s wrong with this country is that its full of selfish assholes who use rulebooks to think instead of their brains.

          • Osagasu says:

            There is no utility that has a legal or moral responsibility to provide their service to people that don’t subscribe to said service, and the people who work there DO have a legal and moral responsibility to take care of their families, something they cannot do if they lost their job because they went against the policies of their employer.

            There’s no entitlement here other than in the guy who thought he could get away with not paying for a service that could save his house.

            • Yamantaka says:

              Actually, there are states where the power utilities will provide power to those in need over the winter, so that the families don’t freeze to death (Illinois Power immediately comes to mind). People can contribute, but they aren’t compelled to do so. To receive the benefit of this, all one needs to do is apply. There you go. Utilities providing a service to ensure survival.

              A bad customer can be rehabilitated (or can, at least, pay fees or have fees deducted from property and/or wages). A dead customer cannot.

              In this case, the fire service was within the bounds of the law. Was it ethical behavior, though? No.

              I do not know how the county distributes its taxes in this corner of TN, but the rural counties I’ve lived in _did_ apply their taxes to provide emergency services to rural, unincorporated locations.

              Three pets did die in the fire. I wonder if their lives were unimportant or not worth the risk per some perversion of Bentham’s utilitarian calculus.

              One would suspect that a person chooses to work in emergency services because they wish to help, not because they wish to become wealthy; hence, volunteer fire departments. Even if you had a non-payer into the communal pot, you could still charge a fee for the service after providing the service (as many posters have recommended). Likewise, if the non-payer still refused to pay the bill, you could send the bill to collections. It’s a simple solution that makes the local services seem far less odious (and keeps this from being a news item).

              The analogue that some are drawing between fire services and health care are incredibly flawed. If you have no insurance and are taken to the hospital for emergency treatment, your needs will be addressed to the point where your life is no longer in immediate danger… even if it puts you in dire debt. Ambulances aren’t refusing to pick up victims of car accidents. Nor are ERs refusing to treat people flown in from said accidents. What the fire department did in this case would be analogous to an ER doctor refusing to work on a patient who is bleeding to death because the patient didn’t have health insurance. It would be more directly analogous if the doctor refused to provide treatment even while the bleeding patient offered to pay cash then and there to save his/her life. Any doctor guilty of that sort of misconduct would be in danger of losing his/her license… at the very least. Too bad we don’t have safeguards against this sort of shenanigans elsewhere.

              • Osagasu says:

                To your first point: Subsidized by taxes, not free.

                Second point, no one was trapped in the house.

                Third point, I’m not arguing the morals of the fire department. At all. Period. My comment was specifically for the fire fighters, who DO have an ethical responsibility to THEIR families and not to those of complete strangers. The “Fire Department” wasn’t at the location at that time, people working FOR the Fire Department were. Maybe they’ll change their policies. HOPEFULLY they’ll change their policies. Until then this man had clear rules and policies that he knew about and needed to follow in order to receive assistance. This man disregarded (“forgot”) the policies and paid the price.

                Your fourth point is moot: It doesn’t matter how things are where you are, where -this- family was that is not the case. If you don’t like the policy, fight it instead of giving your anecdote. Maybe move there, just remember to pay your utility bills.

                Fifth: Unimportant, no. My guess is that there was quite a fair bit of time between when the fire started and when it was unable to go back in: If the Fire Department around here refused to help and somehow my cat was still inside there would be nosebleeds on anyone that tried to keep me from going back in. I don’t think this man even thought about his pets.

                Sixth: There’s a difference between not being rich and not being able to provide for your family. Policy stated not to help if the household didn’t pay, if they went against that policy they probably would have begun to fall into the second category very quickly. This is a point we’re going to have to disagree on; I’ve been -very- deep in the latter at one point life.

                Seventh is not a fair comparison. There was no one in the house, no one was in harm’s way so your statement that this would be like a doctor refusing to assist a dying patient is grossly incorrect. A closer comparison would be the hospital refusing to reattach an uninsured man’s arm. Sure, it’s a hell of a lot of grief the man is going to go through because of it but he CAN work around it. In this case, the doctor (fire department) stabilized the man (prevented the neighbor’s house from burning down). I assure you that this DOES happen.

            • Shadowman615 says:

              Phone services still have to provide access to 911 to people who have services shut off for non-payment.

            • Pax says:

              As Shadowman observes: even if you have no phone number and aren’t paying the phone company a penny – heck, even if your $500,000 in arrears with unpaid phone bills … the phone company still MUST provide you the ability to dial 9-1-1. They don’t have a choice in the matter. In areas without 9-1-1 service, you can still dial “0” and ask the Operator to contact emergency services FOR you.

              • Osagasu says:

                Yep, and if someone was -in- danger they would have been required to get the person -out- of danger: the equivalent of the telecom providing 911 dialing when your life in in danger.

                No one was in danger, so this parallel doesn’t apply.

        • Das G says:

          So what if all the other county residents don’t pay the $75 fee? Then, what pays for the fire dept. to ever come out. The fire dept. is providing a service. You can’t just opt in when you’re in need. Otherwise, everyone would do that and the fire dept. would never make enough to cover the cost of servicing the area.

        • dragonfire81 says:

          I agree to a point.

          I was thinking about this. If everything WAS truly free market and there were no credit lines or whatever available so people could only pay for what they could afford to pay for, there would be minimal debt.

          On the flip side of that though, a lot of people would be unable to pay for services which most of us would consider a basic necessity, like police, firefighters, 911 services and so forth.

          So although the guy did take a game and lose by not paying his fees, it’s a gamble he shouldn’t have had to take in the first place. I think all people, regardless of location should be able to access emergency services when the need arises.

      • Marshmelly says:

        +1 as well. Gotta love it when people ignore basic common sense for the sake of who-paid-what-amount-to-whom. This is an emergency situation. I’m sure the guy would have been glad to pay double the stupid fee if they actually had the heart to put out the fire. Why do people seem to put money before all else? Just HELP the man – his damn house his burning down and you’re sitting there watching it! Screw the money. Ugh…I’ll never ever understand. I just don’t get how someone (like the original commenter) can think this way or call it “entitlement”. It boggles my mind. The “not my problem” attitude is reaching into areas in should not be.

        • Dover says:

          If they fought fires out of the goodness of their heart, then everyone would stop paying the fees and the department wouldn’t be able to afford to continue serving folks outside of the city limits. It sucks, but somebody has to pay for the services or they’re not going to exist at all.

          • Pax says:

            So, if a fire starts, and the person hasn’t paid their fee in advance – tack a 0 on the end of it, and charge it afterwards. Including, if necessary, putting a Lien on the property to ensure (eventual) payment.

            So it becomes “$75 ahead of time, or $750 after the fact. Pick one.”

      • fs2k2isfun says:

        Care to explain more? The homeowner chose to not pay the fee. Whether he forgot is immaterial. It wasn’t paid. If he let his car insurance lapse then totaled the car (or it were destroyed by a tree in a storm), he wouldn’t expect his insurer to pay for it. Why should this be any different?

        • magus_melchior says:

          Because an uncontrolled fire has a 99.99% of spreading to other people’s property, whereas the chances of a totaled car turning into a Burnout style chain reaction is very close to zero.

          There is a reason why a burning home is a PUBLIC safety issue, folks.

    • Pax says:

      … the problem here is, if the fire had spread from HIS home, to a NEIGHBOR’S home …then the neighbor would be S.O.L., too.

      For a fire department to NOT fight a fire, is IMO simply criminal. Fires don’t stop at the property line, and the NEXT guy might lose HIS house, too …!

      Good GRAVY. O_O What idiot thought up the idea of an opt-in, subscription-fee-based Fire Department, in the first place??

      What’s next,.subscription-based POLICE? You dial 9-1-1 because someone is breaking down your door while shouting that they’re going to hack you to piees … and before they’ll even take a report, you have to prove you’ve paid your fees?

      • JixiLou says:

        You failed to read the article. The fire did spread to a neighbor’s home. That is why the fire department showed up- to put out the neighbor’s house.

        I am so confused as to why people seem to think they deserve something for nothing.

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          That’s why fire and police are part of a socialized system! Taxes pay for fire and police, roads and sewers! Do you not get this?!

          • Osagasu says:

            He wasn’t within the town’s limits, which means they have no obligation to provide their socialized utilities. Counties (AFAIK) don’t have socialized utilities, and states probably can but rarely do.

            That leaves him with two options: A VFD or a commercial Fire department.

            My neighborhood has a VFD, thankfully.

            • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

              In the DC metro area, the VA and MD suburbs all have county-based police and fire departments. It’s probably based on practicality — tax base & pop. density. In a huge, sparsely populated county, it would be much more expensive per person to provide those things.

              • Rachacha says:

                Add to that, there are several unincorporated cities and towns in the suburban areas surrounding DC (I live in one with a population of about 15,000 people) and we have two fire stations in immediate proximity to our house that are staffed by a combination of paid and volunteer firefighters. The FD asks for donations on an annual basis that help our local stations purchase new trucks and equipment, but they also receive money from the county (paid for with our tax dollars).

            • WhyNotTry says:

              I would think that county’s (or parish, or township) would have socialized fire departments. I live in an unincorporated parish (Louisiana), and we have our own fire department.

          • fsnuffer says:

            Read the story. He lives in an unincorporated part of the county. He is not paying taxes to South Fulton and they, as good neighbors, are offering it as a service to people outside of the city limits for a reasonable price. How would you feel if you lived in the city, paid your taxes, and the mayor was giving away fire protection services for free to 2000 people? What part of this do you not get?

            • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

              Frankly, I would prefer to have higher taxes than have someone in my community rendered homeless. I doubt insurance is going to pay for this.

        • bearymore says:

          Curse that socialist Benjamin Franklin for imposing public fire departments. What would the founding fathers have thought??

          • Liam Kinkaid says:

            Socialism is not the same thing as getting “something for nothing.” But I do appreciate the sarcasm in your remark. Ben Franklin was a dirty old hippy. And I have it on good authority that he didn’t invent electricity. And that he’s the devil!

          • JixiLou says:

            He was paying no taxes, he was outside of the incorporated county.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        “What’s next,.subscription-based POLICE? “

        The guy lives in an unincorporated part of the county. The neighboring town (which provides fire protection to the county for those who opt in) is under no obligation to provide police protection. This duty falls to either the county sheriff or the state police.

        Police and fire protection typically aren’t provided outside of jurisdictional boundaries. In this situation, individuals who live in the county and outside of town, have the option of contracting the town for their fire protection. The city has no authority to mandate this coverage to county residents.

      • Venality says:

        It HAS to be supscription based. The town is not allowed to tax this homeowner for the service. There are 6 other towns around the area that will not service this development because it is unincorporated. This fire department offered this subscription for the right for them to even go outside the town borders.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          i’m in an unincorporated part of the county. my fire service is covered as part of my county property taxes. but, even if you are delinquent on your taxes, the firefighters don’t stop to check the records before heading out to fight the fire.

          • Liam Kinkaid says:

            But the county, if you’re delinquent on your taxes, has certain methods to remedy your nonpayment. The town in the article, who is providing the services to unincorporated areas, has no such method of remedying nonpayment.

            • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

              that’s true.
              i’m just still surprised by the fact that there are counties who don’t provide some sort of basic fire service and tax based on that need. even in rural areas.

      • CapeMonkey says:

        “Good GRAVY. O_O What idiot thought up the idea of an opt-in, subscription-fee-based Fire Department, in the first place??”

        Two hundred years ago, that was how most fire departments worked – they were set up by insurance companies and if you weren’t paid up with them, then your house burned.

        This stopped because, guess what, fires spread! Companies either realized that it was cheaper to just put out everybody’s fires before they spread to other locations, or they went out of business when the municipalities got sick of having extensive fire damage and took over fire fighting administration. A fee you can somehow manage to not pay is a terrible idea.

      • kc2idf says:

        What’s next,.subscription-based POLICE? You dial 9-1-1 because someone is breaking down your door while shouting that they’re going to hack you to piees … and before they’ll even take a report, you have to prove you’ve paid your fees?

        Ha! Let’s take that scenario a notch further. After determining that the police won’t help, you shoot the guy. The police then come and arrest you, because he paid his fee.

        • Doubts42 says:

          yes except both your hypothetical are ridiculous. if someone is breaking into your house they already have plenty of time to come in and hack you to pieces in the 5 to 45 minutes it will take the police to respond. And if you shoot them in your house you are acting in self defense and will not be arrested.

          Also you are comparing the loss of property to the loss of life. the firefighters did not stand around and watch a person burn to death, they stood around and watched a house burn, they also prevented the fire from spreading to those who weren’t expecting a free ride.

          • Pax says:

            if someone is breaking into your house they already have plenty of time to come in and hack you to pieces in the 5 to 45 minutes it will take the police to respond.

            Unless you have a safe room, with a good strong door. Or a good place to simply HIDE, where it might take the psychopath-with-a-knife an hour to find you.

            And if you shoot them in your house you are acting in self defense and will not be arrested.

            Normally, you’d think this was correct. But when someone (in the dead of the night) broke into the home of the father of one of my college friends, and said father retrieved his pistol, showed it to the burglar, and said “get out NOW” …? And the burglar, upon being caught later that night, then complained to the police about the threat.

            You know what happened to my friend’s father?

            Arrested. Tried. FINED.

            Also you are comparing the loss of property to the loss of life.

            Actually, my complaint is this: fire SPREADS. Fire doesn’t care about property lines. And every time a fire spreads to a new house, there are PEOPLE’S LIVES potentially at risk.

      • UncleAl says:

        If you’re calling the *city* police department and you live *outside* the city in an unincorporated county with no sheriff’s department and no 911 support — then yes, that’s *exactly* what would and should happen.

      • HighontheHill says:

        Who depends on the po po for ALL of their protections nowadays? I would never, ever, ever put them in charge of my personal safety; that would goddamn dumb. No, we have good locks, motion lights, dogs, guns and lots and lots of practice shooting (two to the chest one to the head…). Sure we’ll call the cops, to come get them if they fail entry, but if they make it IN the house, the cops will be coming to take statements and pick up the body(ies).

        It is completely ill-advised to defer the protection of yourself and loved ones to the performance others.

    • qbubbles says:

      Actually, he’d been paying it for years, but forgot. It slipped his mind.

      I wouldnt remember to pay my car registration if it wasnt mailed to me every year, I can only imagine its the same thing for this dude.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Where did you get that? That’s not in TFA.

        • UberGeek says:
          • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

            Much better article, thanks….but it doesn’t say that he ever paid it, just that he “admits he ‘forgot’ to pay the $75 annual fee”, which is ambiguous. It seems to imply that he never did, and doesn’t say if or when he definitely ever did pay it. He may have “forgotten” to pay it since he moved there.

            I say we ask Snopes. It’s the only way to be sure. :)

    • Admiral_John says:

      I was a volunteer firefighter and EMT for six years and the thought of standing by and watching someone’s house burn down just doesn’t sit well with me.

      HOWEVER, two things stand out here:

      “Anybody that’s not in the city of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer, either they accept it or they don’t,” the mayor told WPSD.

      … which is the mayor saying that, for whatever reason, the city has assessed a fee for fire services and it’s not a mandatory fee.

      “I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,” the hapless homeowner told reporters.

      So even though he KNEW about this, he opted to not pay it, figuring that the fire department would save his house anyway.

      My one big question here is what would have happened had someone been trapped in the house?

      • jbandsma says:

        We have several communities here in SC that have subscription fire services. They WILL act to save a human life but will do nothing to protect property if the fee hasn’t been paid. They will also do everything they can to protect a neighbor who -has- paid the fee from being affected by your conflagration.

      • red3001 says:

        being in the area that the report comes from, if someone is in the house they are required legally to get that person out, but not put out the fire. the fire dept is not in the area that the house was in. The area in which the OP lives has no fire protection, except to pay another area’s fire dept to put out the fire.

    • onbehalfofthebunnies says:

      (Sorry if this posts twice, something seems to have gone wrong with my last try)

      I agree with you, except it’s not his not paying $75, it’s his not paying $75 from when he moved there or 1990 (video states that as the start of this policy) plus not paying $75 each year for the rest of the time he lives there. If he’s lived there, let’s just say since before 1990, then he hasn’t paid $1,500 ($75x20yrs this has been in effect). It may not be a ton of money, but if it’s compounded by 100 other people doing the same that’s a substantial difference.

      These people, equipment, insurance, etc. aren’t just magically free because they’re doing a valued and dangerous job, and it’s not fair to those who pay for the services through this fee and through their taxes that he only wants to pay when there’s already a problem, especially if they are taken away from being able to respond to those who have paid if there is an emergency elsewhere.

      If there was someone in the house, they would have helped, it’s not some heartless policy, but each time a firefighter is involved in one of these situations it is a risk to them (not just having a burning house collapse on them but driving out their if they were in an accident), if you as a homeowner outside of their area of service, do not feel that this basically $75/year insurance is worth buying, to protect your home, belongings, and inhabitants of the house, that’s your choice and risk.

      • onbehalfofthebunnies says:

        “driving out their if they were” -> their should be there, I can’t believe I missed this when previewing x_X

      • Shadowman615 says:

        There’s nowhere in the story where it says the guy never paid the fee since 1990. One article just claims he forgot to pay it this year.

        • Hobart007 says:

          Well we will never know as the guy can tell us whatever he wants and the fire department can’t discuss his account because that would violate privacy laws. It is nice to be the only one who can give their side of things… unless of course your negligence results in the loss of your home.

    • Griking says:

      I’m sorry bit I kind of agree. Asking them to put out the fire once it had already started for $75 when he wasn’t an existing customer would kind of be like asking Progressive if you can purchase their collision insurance AFTER your accident and expecting it to be covered.

    • dumpsterj says:

      I hate to agree but i do. I dont have wind or flood damage. I had the wind pry a couple of shingles loose and now water gets in. Its not an expensive fix , but im gonna have to pay it. Its a risk i took

    • zibby says:

      Exactly. Another jackass that figured he’d just coast along on everybody else’s back. Pay for something? That’s for suckers, he had the system beat!

      The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire…

    • zmoney1978 says:

      Sure he didn’t pay his fee, ok…then bill the guy EXTRA for putting out the fire. Thats the fair solution. Sure this guy tried to skate by not paying his $75/year for fire service but that doesn’t stop you from being a decent human beings. These firefighters should be ashamed of themselves. This was someone’s worldly possessions and they just watched it get destroyed.

      Put out the fire and then bill him a crap ton for services rendered. I bet next year he remembers to pay. Problem solved and everyone wins.

      And for those people who say well then everyone else would stop paying knowing they would get services anyway..1 billboard with the owners face saying “It cost me $1000” to put out a fire because I didn’t pay $75. would make everyone pay it.

  4. SabreDC says:

    It should be treated like an emergency room. I’m fine with a subscription-based fire department, but don’t turn down someone who needs it. Just bill them for it afterwards.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Or have them pay the fee when you go out there… just so happens it becomes $750.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      This exactly. Especially considering that the fire in one house spread to another home and needlessly endangered lives & property.

    • K-Bo says:

      Then no one would pay until they had a fire, they can’t run on $75 per fire.

      • drizzt380 says:

        No, you don’t bill them for the subscription. You bill them for the cost of fighting this fire.

        The homeowner would still need to pay for the subscription if he wanted future fire protection.

        • apd09 says:

          very similar to hikers who get lost and full search and rescue needs to be done. people are charged 100’s of thousands of dollars for people to go out and find them and return them to safety. This would be no different, if the guy did not pay his 75.00 then charge him for every single thing that was done to put the fire out from the electricity in the fire house to receive and respond the calls to the gas to drive there and back and everything in between.

          • Kitamura says:

            The difference seems to be that a search and rescue operation of that magnitude would be coordinated by the state (or equivalent for the country in question), not the neighbouring municipality. And of course, the state would have the power to issue and collect those post-service fees whereas it sounds like the municipality does not.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Ramp up the cost if you don’t pay until you have a fire. Like TuxthePenguin said, make it $750 if they didn’t pay the $75.

      • SabreDC says:

        So, then at the very least, it would operate like 99% of most fire departments now: donation-based.

        All they need to do is make it more beneficial to get the subscription. $75 subscription fee or $300 emergency response fee if there is no subscription.

        • Dover says:

          Most fire departments are funded by taxes, not donations. And the price would have to be far more than $300 or nobody would take the subscription (unless their house usually burns down every four years), but it would be hard to collect that money.

    • K-Bo says:

      I like the idea of a system where it’s $75 if you prepay, some set higher amount ($1000 maybe, between labor, water, wear and tear on equipment per fire is probably in that range) if you don’t prepay. They just have to have a way to enforce the higher amount by putting a lien on your house or something if you don’t pay. That way they go ahead and fight all fires, but those who don’t pay ahead are penalized, and there is enough money to pay for everything.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        The problem with that is the neighboring city is providing fire protection and if somebody refuses to pay their post-fire bill, the city has no authority to put a lien on a property that’s outside of its jurisdiction.

      • dolemite says:

        The alternative number would have to be really high. Like 5-10k or something.

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          Assuming the house was worth $150,000, 0.13% is $195 dollars. 150000 x 0.0013 = 195.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      But then subscription fees would probably dry up, and they would be dependent on billing people after they fought a fire, which makes it impossible to budget (not to mention collect) for those responses, which is probably why they offered subscriptions to those outside their normal area in the first place.

      Maybe the city should drop the subscription model all together; it would keep people from outside the city from thinking they actually have any kind of emergency services, because apparently they don’t. This is the CITY fire department responding outside of the city.

    • ttw1 says:

      You would talking thousands of dollars, the bulk of which would be uncollectable.

    • scouts honor says:

      He didn’t pay the $75 they billed him for the fire service, so what makes you think he’d pay the substantially higher bill to put out the fire?

    • Jimmy37 says:

      Property is not life. That’s what insurance is for. This fire department was insurance. Too bad.

    • TheMonkeyKing says:
  5. fs2k2isfun says:

    I’m gonna blame the OP on this one. He felt the cost/benefit was in his favor by not spending the $75 and he lost. Sorry pal, but I have no sympathy for you.

    • passionflower says:

      Wow, you are truly heartless.

      • Marshmelly says:

        Unfortunately, there appears to be a lot of people in this thread (and on Consumerist in general) who are pretty downright heartless.

        • Dover says:

          It’s not heartless, it’s economicfull. Everybody’s house would burn if there wasn’t a fire service, and there wouldn’t be a fire service if people didn’t pay for it. Usually we pay through mandatory taxes but that’s not available in this case. The subscription model falls apart (along with the fire service) if everyone gets service whether or not they paid. It sucks for the person who didn’t think the service was necessary or valuable to them, but it’s the only way to make it work short of the county creating a tax.

          • LandruBek says:

            It is heartless, regardless of whether it is economicfull (whatever that means).

          • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

            It’s not economical. I suggest you read the chapter in your economics book that covers social costs.

        • GinaLouise says:

          Unfortunately the heartless people are the misanthropes who have unlimited time to jabber on a website. I imagine most people who read this would be horrified but don’t have time to battle the wingnuts online.

    • El_Fez says:

      My god, what a piece of work you are. I hope you NEVER need help and people just stand by and watch you get mugged or raped or something.


    • rage says:

      Wll sd tbggr nw g crwl ndr th rck y cm frm.

    • WhyNotTry says:

      I don’t understand people who keep saying they have no sympathy.
      Do I think that he made a bad decision in not paying his $75 fee? Yes.
      Does the blame fall on him for not having the fire department respond to his fire? Yes.
      Do I have sympathy for him? Of course.
      Just because I believe he is ultimately at fault, not not mean he does not deserve sympathy.

    • Scryer_360 says:

      I’d like all the fruits saying the fire department should work for free to jump off a cliff. I’m not a teabagger, but I don’t think anyone should work for free. Especially emergency services.

      Some of you will bring up that he offered to pay: if they took that money, who else would of payed the $75 fee? They’d just wait until there was a problem and in the interim, either the firefighters would have to take other work or starve. Assuming they’d take other work, yah, that is a model for emergency responders: to already have a full day under their belts when called at perhaps any time to fight fires. Yah, that is a model of efficiency and safety.

      The county had previously held a ballot to ask if there should of been a tax to pay for county fire services: the county people turned it down. I don’t see why the people of South Fulton should be forced to pay for the fire services for people outside of South Fulton.

      Whats more, had the fire fighters accepted his payment then, it’d of been payment under duress, which a court would force them to give back pretty easily. “Under duress” in a transaction is otherwise known as “illegal.”

      If he wanted fire protection, he should of payed the $75. Or have agreed to the county tax. Instead, he expected that these public workers would work for free. I’m tired of Faux News and every other conservative in America trotting out a few examples of how some city workers, usually in very large cities with lots for them to do, make low 6 figure incomes and complain that public workers are rip off artists. A city worker in Los Angeles makes $100,000 where as a mayor of a small town in Missouri makes $40,000? That manager in LA may be in charge of projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars and cover tens of thousands of people, the Missouri town may only have 2000 residents. It makes sense that we’d pay a Los Angeles city manager over $100,000 because with so much riding on them, wouldn’t we want to pay a wage that’d attract competent individuals?

      But that is besides the point of this post. The fact is the man didn’t pay because he thought public workers would work for free. Neo-cons can mull that over for a while.

  6. Hi_Hello says:

    hope he had fire insurance.

    • dilbert69 says:

      I’m not a lawyer or an insurance salesperson, but I have to think that a policy would not pay out in this case.

      • drizzt380 says:

        I don’t see why not. Unless the policy specifically said that you needed some sort of fire department service.

        In fact, fire insurance generally does not cover water damage caused by putting out the fire. He could be better off.

        • teke367 says:

          That gets kind of tricky. Depending on how comprehensive your coverage is, you may be covered for the peril that caused the damage, as well as ensuing losses. If that’s the case, you may not be covered for a flood, but if the flood sparks an electrical shortage, which ends up burning the house down, you may be covered, maybe.

          Also, generally insurance contracts have some sort of language where some sort of negligence may be excluded. I’m not sure if this would fit, but it is possible that the insurance company would considered not paying this fee would put the homeowner in breach of their duties.

    • teke367 says:

      I wonder what state laws say about this. I believe a doctor is obligated to help a man dying in front of him (not positive, but I believe I’ve read that), but is legal entitled to bill the victim afterwards.

      Also wondering, why is the $75 voluntary. Considering a fire that spreads could become a larger problem than one house being burned down, shouldn’t they make the $75 mandatory?

      I also wonder how this affects insurance. The general rule of thumb is, “if the house burns down, you’re covered,” which of course excludes arson, etc. Would refusing to pay the fee allow the insurance company to back out of paying the claim.

    • teke367 says:

      I wonder what state laws say about this. I believe a doctor is obligated to help a man dying in front of him (not positive, but I believe I’ve read that), but is legal entitled to bill the victim afterwards.

      Also wondering, why is the $75 voluntary. Considering a fire that spreads could become a larger problem than one house being burned down, shouldn’t they make the $75 mandatory?

      I also wonder how this affects insurance. The general rule of thumb is, “if the house burns down, you’re covered,” which of course excludes arson, etc. Would refusing to pay the fee allow the insurance company to back out of paying the claim.

      • drizzt380 says:

        This $75 is only for people who live outside of the city that funds the fire department. The city cannot levy taxes against the people they are asking to pay the fee.

      • Preyfar says:

        Voluntary because they live outside the city limits of the serviceable area. They can’t force people in another township to pay their fee, so it’s entirely up to you to be aware of it and pay the cost.

    • StarVapor says:

      Being the greed mongers that they are, the insurance companies would simply say that he didn’t pay his fire protection bill so no coverage applies in that instance.

    • zibby says:

      Yeah, THAT’s likely. This guy thought a lousy $75 fee was for suckers, he sure as hell wasn’t going to pay any premiums…

  7. mebaman says:

    “Good business is where you find it.” – Dick Jones, Omni Consumer Products.

  8. EmanNeercs says:

    Can’t wait for the Police Departments to implement this, then I just need to wait for my enemies to forget their monthly/quarterly/annual PD Fee and wage my assault.

  9. mbd says:

    Taken to it’s logical conclusion, this is why the government should provide a basic level of all services, whether it be police, fire, or even (dare I say it) health.

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      I agree with you on police. If there is a crime, they come out and investigate. Completely reasonable.

      I agree with you on fire. If there is a fire, they come out and put it out. Completely reasonable.

      But on health… what is a “basic level” of healthcare? Does that mean one ER visit per decade? The first night of hospital care? There isn’t an easy equivalent with what police and firefighters provide in healthcare. That’s why there is such a HUGE fight with healthcare. You have no one willing to draw the line and say “this is where free ends” because there is always another person with a sob story in which they are poor and need X treatment to live. So that border keeps moving until everything becomes free… and then the system proceeds to go broke. IE, look at UK.

      • AI says:

        Many other countries have already figured it out, so it’s not as hard as Americans think.

        • TuxthePenguin says:

          IE, Look at the UK. Not as easy as it seems.

          • AI says:

            Greetings from Canada where everything works great!

            • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

              Thank you, Canada. and France, and England, and every other major Western country in the world. The insurance and pharma have our udders locked into their milking machines otherwise we’d join you with a healthcare system that works.

              • 99 1/2 Days says:

                As long as you don’t mind waiting a year for that needed operation, it works great!

                • carsinamerica says:

                  Better to wait than to not get it at all, because your insurance doesn’t cover that particular procedure. And for all the horror stories I’ve heard about the NHS, I had some pretty fantastic health care services from them when I was a young lad living in the UK with serious vision problems — not to mention the doctor who came to my family’s home on Christmas Day, just because I was ill.

                • FaustianSlip says:

                  Yeah, I lived in Japan, which has a nationalized health care system, and needed surgery. I was seen by doctors pretty much immediately and scheduled for surgery within a month. Also had no problem getting seen by my surgeon for clearance to go back to work, which is more than I can say for the fabulous care I received in the States. It took my doc here three weeks of repeated appointment cancellations to take a two-minute look at my surgery scar, pronounce me okay to get back to my job and charge me a copy. Never mind that I was on sick leave without pay for the duration.

            • Yentaleh says:

              I’m Canadian too! I am so happy to be here despite the fact that I’ve been waiting for 12 yrs on the transplant list for a new femur. (I have a rare form of osteoporisis with arthritis, Gee how I love my wheelchair!)

              For the poor shmuck who’s house burned down, I would suggest that you move, as far away as possible from this town as quickly as you can. I would hate to see if you were in an accident and the EMT’s don’t show up because you haven’t paid them gas money.

          • Anonymously says:

            Maybe it’s easy and hard, or just moderately difficult? Maybe it’d be easy for someone of sufficient talent, but hard for everyone else? Maybe it’s actually EZ, which I’m pretty sure the IRS has figured out, so maybe they should handle it.

          • FaustianSlip says:

            Have you ever actually lived in the UK? I lived there for several years and had no issues getting medical or dental coverage on the National Health system. I had an easier time getting in to see doctors for treatment there than I have in the US, in fact, where my appointments are regularly canceled due to doctors’ schedules, doctors are constantly running late, et cetera, et cetera. While living there, I asked nearly every Brit I knew what they thought of the National Health system, and there wasn’t a person I met who favored getting rid of it or moving to an American-style system. Not one. The general consensus was that while the National Health has its own issues that need fixing, the American health care system is horrific in the number of people left without coverage, denied coverage after paying years of premiums and the level of expense for the average person in providing himself or herself with medical care.

      • Shadowfax says:

        Easy: If you need it for your health, or to restore you to your condition before your health declined, you get it. If you don’t, you don’t.

        So: If you have cancer, you get treated.

        If part of that treatment is a mastectomy, you get reconstructive surgery if you wish.

        If you just want bigger boobs, you’re on your own.

        See? Not that hard.

        • XTC46 says:

          define “for your health”.

          Im overweight. Is my gym membership covered? How about a gastric bypass? both would help with me from being over weight.

          My back is sore. Is a chiroprator covered? How about Herbal medicine or spiritual healing?

          Everyones health declines as they age, so what gets covered then? What about mental health instead of just physical health.

          Im depressed, covered or no?
          Im Homicidal, covered yet?
          Suicidal? No?

          The list goes on. Lines need to be drawn, but at the same time, people dont want others telling them what is and isnt important, especially not politicians. So how to we solve it? We let the free market take care of it. I have insurance through my job (its required in my state for full time employees) and get most of the benefits listed above (except the gym membership, but even that can be done pre-tax via my flex spending plan I belive, but tis always been more of a hassel than its worth to setup). I got to choose from 3 different health plans at my company, 2 were free, 1 cost more but gave me more stuff, I chose a free option. Those who wanted better picked the other one. Free market works!

    • AI says:

      Quit being logical! This is America!

    • Jimmy37 says:

      What logical conclusion? What ever happened to personal responsibility? Why stop at basic services? Who decides what’s basic? In Europe, they have all sorts of “rights” that some arbitrary body decides. Like right of having Internet.

    • thomas_callahan says:

      Hear, hear! (ESPECIALLY to the health part)

  10. MeowMaximus says:

    I may take a lot of flack for this, but I think this is just horribly wrong. Yes the guy is an idiot for not paying the $75. Nevertheless, the firefighters should have done their jobs and put out the fire. Does not paying the fee mean that if there is someone trapped inside that they won’t get rescued?
    This policy is obscene – if someone did not pay the fee, and they have a fire, bill them, but put out the damn fire.

    • JixiLou says:

      Should have done their jobs? The key word there is “JOBS”- meaning they get paid for it. Paid money. Money that HAS TO COME FROM SOMEWHERE.

      • guspaz says:

        That’s what taxes are for. As has been said elsewhere, if somebody had been trapped in the house, criminal charges probably would have been laid against whoever made the decision not to fight the fire.

        • DcChick says:

          Numerous posts have discussed this, but perhaps it’s eluded you. The people with the burning house did not pay taxes to the city where the fire department is located. This is *exactly* like driving your car around til you wreck it, then calling up Geico and asking to pay the premium so your wreck would be covered. Things just don’t work that way.

          • LandruBek says:

            It is not “exactly” like wrecking your uninsured car because cars and houses are quite different. I think the basic inhumanity manifest in this story has eluded you.

            • JixiLou says:

              It is exactly the same.

              • drizzt380 says:

                Its not exactly the same.

                If you have a car accident, the damage is done. They can’t really uncrash your car or in some way stop the car from being more destroyed.

                I would say this is more like you get an infection. If you don’t do something, the infection will spread. You go to the doctor(the only one in town for some reason), but you don’t have insurance. You say you’ll pay but he still refuses to help you. Then the infection spreads and you lose a foot.

                Of course, thats not a perfect analogy either. One deals with property while one deals with the health of a person. Maybe we should just not use analogies for this?

                • Sian says:

                  “Geico, how can I help you?”

                  “I’m driving a Toyota and my throttle is stuck and I need full coverage RIGHT NOW!”

              • drizzt380 says:

                And another thought, we shouldn’t really be comparing this to insurance anyway.

                Insurance pays you when damages stem from the thing they insure. Fire departments aren’t really insurance. They make no guarantees. They come out and try to put out a fire. They don’t pay you anything, and if the whole house burns down anyway they go “Oh, well. We tried.”

          • comatose says:

            No this is like not paying for insurance and asking a BODY SHOP to fix it, and they say no way…EVEN IF it was out of your own pocket

        • Dover says:

          But this homeowner did not pay the city taxes used to fund the fire department, hence the $75 annual fee. If he was within the department’s normal service area, his taxes would have covered it.

      • whylime says:

        “This policy is obscene – if someone did not pay the fee, and they have a fire, bill them, but put out the damn fire.”

        Money would be coming from the bill. They’re not saying the firefighters should put it out for free. Maybe you should actually read the comment before posting a response.

        • JixiLou says:

          And under that policy, there’s no up-front cost to pay for trucks or uniforms or the firefighter’s time to sit around waiting for something to burn down. It’s not economical, and it’s not practical.

        • zibby says:

          C’mon, people – if this guy wouldn’t pay $75 he is NOT going to pay the bill once his house isn’t on fire. He knew it and the fire department knew it, hence their course of action.

          • magus_melchior says:

            (Contract under duress notwithstanding) That’s why there are courts to deal with the situation you mention. He would have signed a release stating he would pay the full cost of putting out the fire, i.e., a contract.

    • DaveWW says:

      It wasn’t the firefighters’ job… he wasn’t in their service area.

    • oldtaku says:

      If they put out the fire then nobody would ever pay the $75 till their house catches on fire. Why should they? Protection rackets depend on you paying up front.

      Yes, this is a horribly badly designed system – but the homeowner is a fool.

  11. summeroflove says:

    Wow, this strikes me not only as extremely stupid but irresponsible. While yes, the guy is responsible for the $75, my first thought (and it states it in the article) that what if the fire spreads to neighboring properties. Now, imagine a place doing this like Arizona or California that gets wild fires. Awesome. All for $75.

    • scaldinglake says:

      It did spread, the fire fighter showed up to put out the fire on the neighbor’s property and left, all while the house burned.

    • ttw1 says:

      I agree. It’s totally irresponsible not to pay $75 a year for fire protection.

    • jeffjohnvol says:


      Its like asking your neighboring city to provide you with services. It doesn’t work like that.

      • summeroflove says:

        Ok, so seriously, RMFC. I READ the article and I said not only was it my thought, *it also states it in the article*. That’s why I put it in parentheses and called it out, so people would read it. And yes, it may not work like that, but I’m sure there must be another option besides letting it burn to the ground and endangering other people.

      • Shadowfax says:

        Well, yeah, actually it does. It’s very common for neighboring cities/counties to have mutual aid agreements. If one town’s police force or fire department gets slammed, the neighboring town will come over and help.

        Letting the house burn makes sense only to the kind of people who believe they shouldn’t be obligated to help society out at all, and instead should be allowed to (and indeed lauded for) grab as much as they can for themselves.

        Those of us who feel that being a part of a society that enables us to have the standard of living we have carries with it certain obligations to give back to that society fall on the side of the fire department putting the damned fire out. In this case I’d even be fine with the fire department sending him a bill. But to sit there and watch the house burn when they could do something about it is an level of cruelty and classism that is the polar opposite of everything this country’s founders had in mind when they separated from England.

        • Dover says:

          “Mutual” is they key word there. It’s not free, it’s reciprocal. If my town decided to close the fire department and ask the next town over to send firefighters for free every time we had a fire, they’d laugh.

          • Shadowfax says:

            I’ve never said they should have put his house out for free. But when he offered to pay them “whatever it takes” to put the house out, they should have put the house out, and then sent him a bill.

    • MadameX says:

      Actually, there are lots of places in Arizona that are outside of the city limits and serviced by a subscription based fire department (Google Rural/Metro). Same deal…

  12. crashfrog says:

    Ok, but fire departments aren’t in the insurance business, they’re in the “putting out fires” business. So if they’re going for a fee-for-service model, it makes no sense to only do business with people whose houses aren’t burning down. Those aren’t the people who need their services!

    The people who need firefighters are the people whose houses are on fire. Those are the people they should be doing business with, but when this guy called them and offered them money to put out his house fire, they refused. They literally turned away his business.

    How is it that these idiots don’t know how their own business works? Why do they think they’re selling insurance?

    • DanRydell says:

      The reason they’re using the insurance model is because if they only billed the people whose houses were actually on fire, most people couldn’t afford it. Also, Consumerist would be posting an article about a fire department extorting money out of people whose houses are on fire.

      You use insurance to cover the cost of extremely expensive but rare events that you couldn’t afford if they occur. That’s what’s happening here.

      • TuxthePenguin says:

        My Lord, someone who actually understands the concept of insurance…

      • crashfrog says:

        The reason they’re using the insurance model is because if they only billed the people whose houses were actually on fire, most people couldn’t afford it.

        Why? How much do you think it costs to put out a fire?

        And why couldn’t they charge that to the people who didn’t buy the “subscription”?

        You’re much like the people who can’t tell the difference between health insurance and health care. Insurers provide fire insurance. It makes sense that you can’t buy fire insurance when your house is burning down, because the idea is to pool risk and have those whose homes didn’t burn down bear some of the costs to replace the homes that did.

        Fire departments provide fire service. They don’t insure homes against burning down, they stop fires already in progress. It doesn’t make any more sense for a fire department to insist on “subscription” than it makes for a restaurant to insist on subscription. Sure, you could pool the “risk” of getting hungry and have the cost of food spread among the well-fed and hungry alike, but what would be the point of that? And what’s the point of pooling the cost of fire service instead of the risk?

        It makes no sense at all that there was literally no amount of money this guy could offer the fire department to save his house, when that’s exactly the business they’re in – taking money to stop fires.

      • zibby says:

        True…but this is apparently the type of guy who figures the insurance company should cover his damages even though he didn’t have a policy. The one model he does understand is the piggyback model. Lot of that going around.

    • shibblegritz says:

      I can’t believe I really have to explain this …. but here goes.

      If there is no requirement to buy a fire tag before a fire, there is no incentive for doing so.

      Few households suffer fires.

      Consequently, the fire department that collects in arrears would then lack revenue sufficient to buy the equipment and hire and train fire fighters necessary to put out fires, and said fire service would not be able to roll a truck to collect payment for its services when a fire does break out.

      And … assuming they did … the cost would not be $75, but rather the total annual cost of provisioning and training the fire service divided by no more than the average numbeyr of house fires in the jurisdiction. I’m gonna wager that’s a whole lot more than $75.

  13. Shadowfax says:

    “The man offered to pay them the fee right then and there, or however much it took to get them to put out the fire, but was refused.”

    True evil is when you have the ability to help avert a tragedy and you refuse on monetary grounds.

    • hmburgers says:

      That is disgusting… for them to refuse to fight the fire? The person in charge of that team should be charged with criminal negligence and anyone on his team that didn’t argue and fight with him is an accessory.

      This is not the same thing as refusing to fix someone’s car, or mow their own…. this is like laying on the table of an emergency room with a heart attack and being told, “sorry, even though I could probably save you, since you wouldn’t pay my protection racket I’ll just you die”

      • Marshmelly says:


      • njack says:

        The guy lives in an unincorporated part of the county which has no fire protection services. It’s a crappy situation that he didn’t pay the $75 fee, but in reality the fire department didn’t break any laws…with the possible exception of moral ones.

        In most areas with this type of situation there is a volunteer fire department which would have taken action, but the fire department from the neighboring town has no responsibility to take over. The guy chose to live out in the county for whatever reason. One benefit of this is he doesn’t pay the city taxes. The city taxes are what funds the fire department. He doesn’t pay, he doesn’t get service.

      • Kitamura says:

        How is it like that at all? It’s not like someone was trapped inside the house and was burning to death while they watched. I’m pretty sure that even if you don’t pay your premiums, they would respond to imminent loss of life, but they still wouldn’t act to protect your personal property, just your personal well being.

        That being said, it is pretty despicable to not try to fight the fire while you’re there, but I understand that there could be other factors we simply don’t know about because they aren’t reported on.

    • SagarikaLumos says:

      As soon as they provided the service without the subscription, nobody would subscribe.

    • hosehead says:

      “True evil is when you have the ability to help avert a tragedy and you refuse on monetary grounds.”

      You are talking about the OP and his refusal to pay the $75, right?

      • Shadowfax says:

        No. As should be obvious. The guy forgot to pay a fee that he shouldn’t have to pay in the first place, and as a result they let his house burned down, even when he offered to pay them whatever they wanted to put it out.

        There’s really little difference between this and the Mafia’s “protection money,” and I for one do not like living in a society run by Mafia rules.

        • Dover says:

          This is like being mad at a health insurance company for not covering your hospital stay when you didn’t have a policy because you “should have to” pay the premiums. Regardless of your views on health care, that is the model we currently have in place and you can choose to participate or not. This was his only option if he wanted to have fire department services and he decided it wasn’t worth it.

          • Shadowfax says:

            No he didn’t. He paid his fees for years. He forgot this year.

            So, to go down the analogy route, it’s like you forgetting to mail a letter and as a result you lose your house without warning.

            • Gulliver says:

              If you “forget” to pay your car insurance will the police car when you are int he accident? Will the insurance company care? You make choices in life. Sometimes they bite you in the ass. This is one of those cases.
              I personally think those that move to “unincorporated” areas tend to do so because they think they can get away from “them damn city taxes”. I wonder if garbage pick up was not provided if he did not pay that bill, and let it pile up for months, then decided to pay for a week, then go for months without getting the service.
              He had options. he could have bought a water pump. He could have used a hose at his house. There are certain things in life you should never forget. I bet he never forgets it again.

            • borgia says:

              Its also like spending 20 years turning off the gas stove and forgetting one time and burning down your house.

            • Sword_Chucks says:

              What is with all these irrelevant analogies??? Its like a guy who forget, or neglects, or whatever to pay a fire service fee and he loses his house after it catches fire and the fire department watches it burn down.

              what do you mean forget to mail a letter and the house burns down

        • Doubts42 says:

          So the firefighters should risk their lives for free. filling stations should gas up the trucks for free. someone should have donated the land and building for the fire station and all the equipment just magically maintains and replaces itself right?

          Do you roam the streets at night risking your life and spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to keep people safe? If not why do you think you have the right to expect others to?

          • Shadowfax says:

            OK genius. Who paid for the gas they used to drive out to watch the house burn?

            They didn’t save any money by not fighting the fire. They’re still paid. They still used gas to get out there. They still have a firehouse, whether this guy’s house caught fire or not. So put the damn fire out and send him a bill.

            As to your other .. Point. . That’s why I pay taxes. So that people will walk the streets and keep them (reasonably) safe for me. I also pay taxes so that the fire department will stop my house from burning down. And if there were a subscription-based fire service in my county instead of a regular tax-funded one, I would pay the fee, but I would also do my damnedest to vote out the Republican SOB’s who won’t fund fire services.

            • borgia says:

              He lives in an unincorporated area. That means he doesn’t live in a city and there is nobody to vote for. The neighboring city that doesn’t receive tax money from this man will fight fires if you pay them to come out.

              • Shadowfax says:

                He lives in a county doesn’t he? The county is responsible for the citizens that don’t live in cities.

                • borgia says:

                  The county provides limited services. It is not designed to replace a city. The standard county services are designed to provide for farmers and others. It was never designed for people living in neighborhoods in unincorporated areas. People choose to live in unincorporated areas to save money on taxes and some like the rural lifestyle and it looks like he got a good dose of both. There are some unincorporated areas that have a homeowners association to collect fees that they pass onto the city for extended city services like police patrols and fire protection but he didn’t buy in an area like that.

                • borgia says:

                  The county provides limited services. It is not designed to replace a city. The standard county services are designed to provide for farmers and others. It was never designed for people living in neighborhoods in unincorporated areas. People choose to live in unincorporated areas to save money on taxes and some like the rural lifestyle and it looks like he got a good dose of both. There are some unincorporated areas that have a homeowners association to collect fees that they pass onto the city for extended city services like police patrols and fire protection but he didn’t buy in an area like that.

            • hymie! says:

              OK genius. Who paid for the gas they used to drive out to watch the house burn?

              They responded to a separate call for the subscribed neighbor whose field caught fire.

              • FaustianSlip says:

                You know, if I were the neighbor, I’d sue their asses, even if it was only my field that caught fire. They knew that this guy’s house was going up, and they didn’t even bother suiting up and heading out there until the neighbor physically called them to say that his property was on fire? That’s ridiculous. If you know that a freaking house is on fire, get your butt out there in time to prevent its spread, even if you’re not going to put it out. The idea that they literally waited until the neighbor noticed his own property catching before they came out just blows my mind. They were basically willing to put the neighbors at risk to prove their point about the $75 fee. Unacceptable.

            • JixiLou says:

              Ummmm, *genius*, if you had actually read the article, you would see that they DIDN’T drive all the way out there to watch it burn. They drove out there to keep the neighbors’ houses from burning down, the neighbors who actually paid the $75 subscription/fee/tax.

        • njack says:

          What makes you think he forgot? Nowhere in the article does it say he forgot.

          What makes you think he shouldn’t have to pay the fee in the first place? He lives outside of the city and thus doesn’t pay city taxes, which would pay for his fire services. Thus the $75 he “shouldn’t have to pay in the first place” is his tax for fire services. He didn’t pay, he doesn’t get service.

          I don’t agree with letting the guys house burn down, but they didn’t do anything “wrong”. I also find it a little funny that he offered them ” however much it took to get them to put out the fire”, but there is no comment on whether or not the guy would have the financial means to do so. I’ve lived in unincorporated areas and along with no city taxes, there are also much less stringent building codes, etc. Areas like this are appealing not only to those looking to get out of the city, but those who can’t afford to live in the city.

        • Griking says:

          Well, in all fairness its he didn’t just owe $75, he owed $75 times however many years her lived there.

          Think of it like insurance, your weekly premiums are always going to cost a lot less than what it would cost to treat a major health issue but its a chance that insurance companies take. You can’t just go without health insurance and then when you feel a heart attack coming on offer to pay your first premium right there and then. It just doesn’t work that way.

        • f5alcon says:

          He shouldnt have had to pay to begin with? do fire trucks magically appear out of thin air for free? he wasnt paying for their existence at all, no taxes. do your job for free because im sure some feels entitled to have what you offer for nothing.

    • Guppy06 says:

      The house was already on fire, a pre-existing condition.

  14. hymie! says:

    Didn’t we just have this discussion about health insurance, using the analogy of insuring a house after it burned down?

    Everybody pays a small fee. Everybody is protected against tragedy. The few people who need the expensive service get the expensive service. That’s how the service gets funded.

    The article doesn’t mention, among other things, for how many years this family did not pay for the subscription before suddenly deciding they needed it.

    I’m sorry. I feel bad for the family losing their home, but if they didn’t want the fire-fighting service, then they didn’t want the fire-fighting service. Complaining that they didn’t get the service they didn’t want to pay for? Talk to the hand.

    • crashfrog says:

      I feel bad for the family losing their home, but if they didn’t want the fire-fighting service, then they didn’t want the fire-fighting service.

      But they didn’t need the service until the house was on fire. Why should they pay for it until their house was on fire?

      This isn’t like insurance, where you pool risk to avoid the immense cost of a tragedy that only befalls a few, but you can’t know which few in advance. The services of the fire department are only needed at houses that are on fire. Those are the homeowners they should be doing business with!

      It’s like going into a Burger King, and they refuse to serve you a hamburger at any price because you didn’t pay your “BK Subscription” until you were hungry. It makes no sense; hungry people are the market for hamburgers. Homeowners with house fires are the market for fire fighting services. People whose houses are not on fire don’t need firefighters, so why should they subscribe?

      Because their house might burn down? Well, so what? Why not charge them then? This guy wasn’t unwilling to pay; he just wasn’t willing to pay until he needed the service. What on Earth is stupid about that?

      • Bativac says:

        Yeah, but that’s exactly how insurance works. You pay based on the risk that something may happen. Otherwise you take the risk and pay out of pocket if something DOES happen, like in this case.

        I can see both sides of this. You didn’t pay for the service so you don’t get the service. It’s like filing an insurance claim when you haven’t paid your policy premium. But at the same time, as a human being, I think I’d have put the fire out, then dealt with the guy afterwards.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        “This isn’t like insurance, where you pool risk to avoid the immense cost of a tragedy that only befalls a few, but you can’t know which few in advance.”

        Unless you’re an arsonist or just like playing with matches a LOT, it’s exactly like this. The city fire department tried to offer insurance for those in an unincorporated area for a fee much, much smaller than the cost of one actual response. They probably wouldn’t make back the cost of fire trucks, stations, training, and 24/7 staffing even with a normal lifetime of fees. They depend on a pool of people, most of whom will never need it.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        “This isn’t like insurance, where you pool risk to avoid the immense cost of a tragedy that only befalls a few, but you can’t know which few in advance.”

        Really? What you just described is the purpose and scope of the fire department. Everyone pays into the system so that the few who need it are protected. You pay with the possibility of never needing it. THIS IS INSURANCE.

        You can’t argue that citizens should only pay for fire service when their house is on fire. That model does not work. A) It would make the cost of saving your house extremely burdensome, B) It would enivitably lead to corrupt fire services.

        Dumbest argument I have possibly every heard.

        • crashfrog says:

          No, you’re confusing fire insurance with fire service. The job of the fire department is not to insure your home against fires – insurance companies do that – it’s to stop fires that are in progress. That’s why the firefighters don’t go to every home, they only go to the ones that are on fire.

          If fire fighters want to sell insurance they should get into the insurance business. If they want to fight fires for money, then they should take money from people who want them to save their burning homes, like this guy.

          Honestly it’s not that hard to figure out unless you’re the kind of person who confuses health insurance with health care, too.

      • igoooorrrr says:

        Wait, so everyone paying $75 a year to pay for the cost of a few expensive fire fighting efforts is not the same as pooling “risk to avoid the immense cost of a tragedy that only befalls a few, but you can’t know which few in advance.”

      • EWU_Student says:

        -1 due to argument fail

      • hymie! says:

        But they didn’t need the service until the house was on fire. Why should they pay for it until their house was on fire?

        So when you call 911 and report a fire, an HR person springs into action. He/she announces 6 job openings for firefighters, they interview people, hire people and train them. Then a purchasing agent goes out and buys a fire truck and equipment. Then they call the water company to lay pipes and install a fire hydrant near your house. The firefighters equip themselves, get on the truck, buy a city map, and drive to your house and put out the fire.

        After all, why pay for firefighters to be on staff until a house is on fire?

      • HighontheHill says:

        Because the infrastructure necessary to put out all the fires that MIGHT happen is expensive, absolute, ongoing and cannot be realistically supported by a pay-as-you-go construct. Nope, much as it might suck, you pay your subscription or you’re FUCKED if you have a fire; like this poor guy.

        This isn’t a free ride you hop on only when you need it, you pay your way as INSURANCE against catastrophic loss or you dawn your own firefighting apparatus should the unlikely occur.

    • Paintmann says:

      It sounds good on paper, but what happens when the “small” contribution is no longer enough to fund said expensive service. If you need an answer look at Social Security.

      • hymie! says:

        It sounds good on paper, but what happens when the “small” contribution is no longer enough to fund said expensive service.

        Two options.

        1. You do a cost analysis, estimate what percentage of your subscription base will pay a higher rate and what percentage will drop the subscription, and raise the subscription rate appropriately.

        2. You do a cost analysis, estimate how much money you will save by not providing the service at all compared to the amount you receive from subscription payments, and you stop providing the service.

    • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

      Nice….hope you are not stuck bleeding on the side of the road and no one helps you out. Come on…what happened to be a member of the human race and helping each other out. Apparently, you and the bubble you live in make a great companion.

      • hymie! says:

        I never said I agree with the concept of fee-based fire protection. That’s why I live in a county where my taxes pay for services, in a part of the state where I can travel up to two counties away and still be in an area where (somebody’s) taxes pay for these services. If he’s going to live in an area where the services are not provided by the government in exchange for tax dollars, then it (if you’re conservative) enables (if you’re liberal) behooves him to determine if he wishes to pay for those services.

  15. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    The situation is a little more complicated than it’s been presented in the news.

    The man lives in a county with no fire protection. The neighboring town offers voluntary “subscriptions” to those non-residents who would like to contract their services. This town has no authority to tax, put liens on, etc. people who don’t live within its jurisdiction.

    If you live in town, it’s not optional, you get fire protection and the mandatory fee. If you live in the county, you can voluntarily subscribe to the service. If you don’t pay the fee and live outside of city limits, then you’re on your own.

    • Hoss says:

      That’s fair in my book, unless lives are in danger

    • zibby says:

      This just proves the need for a federal firefighting force so that those people who live in areas where the population density is less than 2 per square mile can get the coverage they deserve. We’re going to need a lot of FFF stations in the middle of nowhere to keep response times under a couple of hours, but it should be worth it – in fact, I predict massive savings. FEDERAL FIREFIGHTING FORCE!

      • JennQPublic says:

        I don’t predict massive savings, I predict massive ependitures for rarely-needed firemen to sit around waiting for a fire.

        But you know what? I don’t mind a tiny sliver of my tax dollars paying for bored firemen. In the grand scheme of things, it’s probably a better use of those dollars than most things…

  16. Liam Kinkaid says:

    Would he be complaining if he didn’t pay his water bill and the city shut off his water?

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      You mean like that story a while back about the old man who died after his heat was cut off? (He had the money but apparently was having some memory problems. They found the money and the bill, he just hadn’t sent it in)

    • zibby says:

      You know, he probably would. “My pipes froze and burst, the water company could have prevented this tragedy by just giving me the water! It ain’t right!”

  17. odarkshineo says:

    Someone should tell this place about taxes…seems to be pretty popular other places!

    • humphrmi says:

      Read the article. The fire broke out in an unincorporated area. The nearby town has a fire department that can serve the unincorporated area, but does not have the authority to tax the unincorporated area’s residents. The town taxes it’s own residents for services such as fire protection, but can’t tax the unincorporated residents. So they implemented the voluntary fire protection fee scheme to recover their costs of providing fire service to residents who can’t be taxed by the town.

    • Murph1908 says:


      Or, RTFC2AY

  18. trey says:

    ths frfghtrs nd t rt n hll!!! nyn n hr blmng th P, hp yr fckng hs brns dwn! wndr hw y wll fl thn, vn wth nsrnc y cn ls vrythng, d y rll thnk y cn rplc vrythng n y fckng hs! sm f th ppl n hr r th scm f th rth

    • NightSteel says:

      Pardon me while I play a bit of devil’s advocate.. some people would say that peace of mind against such a situation is worth $75.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think it was a douchebag thing to do, still refusing to fight the fire even after the guy said he’d pay, but he did make his own bed.

    • alSeen says:

      You obviously didn’t even read the post, let alone the article.

      This person lived outside the normal coverage area for the fire department. The city has no authority to tax the residents of this neighborhood, so to offer the service, the city offers to let the residents pay a fee. Why should any government be required to provide services to people who are outside their governing authority?

    • DieBretter says:

      I did have my house burn down. It was the Saturday before Father’s Day in 2008. But, hey, guess what? I was a college student that was unemployed and I still had enough sense to have good insurance AND live with fire protection. He took a gamble, of his own free will, and lost. I would bet you money that he lived in that area because of lower taxes too.

      In my case, the house had ~200k worth of damages and ~300k worth of goods. Every single thing got replaced. The adjuster came in and took count of how many packets of kool-aid I had in the kitchen, to how many pounds of tenderloin I had, to how many chew toys my dogs had (in the hundreds because they hide them). Again, every single thing got replaced.

      • ghostberry says:

        You were an unemployed college student with 300k worth of goods. So i guess you were subsidizing all your mega insurance selling handjobs.

        • jesirose says:

          Not to mention he apparently had a house. I’m employed, not wasting my money on college or 300k worth of goods, and still can’t get a house. WTF.

    • hosehead says:

      I think you mean “lose”, not “loose”.

      Maybe he can replace his checkbook and pay the $75 next year to protect the tent he will be living in on his burnt-up property.

    • trey says:

      like i said… scum of the earth

      thanks for proving my point

      • alSeen says:

        I’m generous with my own time and money.

        I’m not self righteous enough to be generous with other people’s time and money. I guess that’s why I’m a conservative.

        • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

          I believe what you are living in is called a bubble….

        • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

          Using that logic:
          We should privatize all fire departments.
          all police and sheriff’s departments
          all healthcare (get rid of the VA and SS)
          all branches of the military dissolved (buy your own damn gun)
          all roads and highways should be toll based

          Disagree with any of this and you are a commie bastard.

          • ghostfire says:

            You forgot schools!

          • alSeen says:

            This is the problem with discussing any type of government program on the internet. Everything is either all or nothing.

            The idea that the government can be good for some things but isn’t the solution to everything is foreign to you, isn’t it?

            • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

              No, it isn’t. This guy deliberately took a gamble and lost his house. That I agree was his fault.

              I just get sick of having the same pre-recorded phrase slathered about. Especially the way “I’m not self righteous” part should be missing the “not”. The “I’m generous with my own time and money” is almost always a bold-faced lie; I’ve lived in the most conservative state in the country and can guarantee that conservatives are the least generous and the most self-righteous people there are.

              I wish people would think for themselves and stop bleating the same soundbites. Go ahead and buy your own fire extinguisher, gun, books, ham radio, and then home school your kids and dig your septic tank and your own well. I don’t care. Health care, fire departments, police departments, libraries, schools, highways, bridges, utilities, military, are the things that should be socialized. Things like sports stadiums should not be, but often are.

    • fsnuffer says:

      I hope your home burns down and the fire department is busy fighting another house fire where the person did not pay for it. Let’s hear you whine like a bitch about how when you needed the fire department you paid for and they were unavailable outside of town putting out a charity cases fire.

    • jeffjohnvol says:

      Sticks and stones, mr. bleeding heart crybaby.

    • Darwin says:

      I guess ignorance isn’t bliss after all.

    • zibby says:

      What’s with the hysterics?

  19. Starrion says:

    “I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong”

    Yes, you were wrong.

    Not to add insult to injury, but how stupid is that? Who would buy health insurance if you could sign up on your way to the hospital?

    • SagarikaLumos says:

      Exactly. He probably lived there 15 years or more without paying the fee that’s only $6.25 per month and thought he was pretty smart for not paying it right up until the point where he needed it.

    • A42NT1 says:

      Thanks to our illustrious president and speaker, you now can do just that!

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Um, no you can’t.

        • TuxthePenguin says:

          Actually, yes you can. Well, in 2014. You simply pay the fine for not having health insurance. Trust me, there will be people out there who have resources to pay the fine until they get something bad enough that they’d drain their resources too fast. So they’ll buy insurance and insurance will be forced to cover.

          • onbehalfofthebunnies says:

            The question is, how much will that insurance cost. I don’t remember any specifics about cost limitations being in the bill which, if I am correct in that, the insurance companies will say, “Sure, you haven’t paid any health insurance other than the fee for the past 10 years, but now that you have what appears to be cancer, we will insure you…for $20,000 a month. Oh, you can’t afford that? That’s too bad, but we’re offering you insurance, we’re not denying you based on a preexisting condition.”

    • mobiuschic42 says:

      The difference is you can still see a doctor without insurance, you’ll just have to pay a lot out of pocket. In this case, the insurer and the *only* service-provider are the same entity, and they refused to provide any service at any price. Seems like a conflict of interest to me.
      Also, doctors are generally bound by ethics to help you if you show up bleeding to death, whether or not they know if you can pay. Apparently, this group of firefighters isn’t bound by similar ethics.

      • Liam Kinkaid says:

        Since you bring up conflict of interest, perhaps it would have been a conflict of interest for the firefighters to price out the cost of fighting that fire. Say the 4 firefighters each had $250k of life insurance on a self-funded (i.e. the city) plan. Since they’re risking their lives fighting the fire, they possibly could have incurred in excess of $1,000,000 fighting the fire. Since they’re good firefighters, and don’t routinely die, the city decides to charge only 10% of that, or $100,000 for fighting the fire.

        Of course, if the guy couldn’t pay $75/yr., he probably couldn’t pay $100,000 for fighting a fire. Plus, any amount they charged (even less ridiculous amounts) might come off looking like extortion. That’s the real conflict of interest.

  20. SagarikaLumos says:

    I hate to be callous about it, but I have to join the choir in blaming the OP. He didn’t pay for the service, so he doesn’t get the service. If he has fire insurance, he might really be up a creek now as his fire coverage may have been predicated on subscribing.

    In fact, I feel sorry for whoever had to take his progressively more frantic and probably guilt-trip riddled calls. It wasn’t their fault he turned it down, and it wasn’t anything personal, but they couldn’t come fight the fire.

    • Parsnip says:

      I’m not sure why you think they couldn’t do it. They were RIGHT THERE, with their trucks, hoses and fire fighters. It’s not a matter of couldn’t. They WOULDN’T.

    • yusefyk says:

      It’s so funny how people think calling this a “service” means it is just like satellite television service or a magazine subscription.

      This is quite horrific situation. Bill him for the entire cost if they wish. I can not imagine this happening in my place ever, because here, the fire men are people.

      • JixiLou says:

        Funny. Where *I* live, the firefighters (they’re not all men, where I live) are people, too. People with families and bills, who need money to live. Even “volunteer” firefighters get paid for their time, it’s just much, much less.

        You’re asking people to run into burning buildings, to risk their lives, FOR FREE. That’s just stupid.

    • hmburgers says:

      The problem here is that you can’t control a fire like you can control other things… so for them to not fight the fire should be criminal because of the potential for it to endanger lives, and other people.

      They refused to fight the fire even when the man offered to pay them for their services–not just $75, but whatever it would cost–and they refused.

      What the dept should do is fight the fire, no matter what, and then bill/sue the homeowner for whatever their costs are… it’s not optional. Frankly this is a state government problem, they should be ensuring fire coverage (of some sort) for every square inch of their land… if they want to have a local law that stipulates the cost is on the owner of that land (either via $75/yr subscription or insane one-time charge for fighting a fire) then that’s an option.

      Frankly, if the man has home insurance I’m surprised they didn’t require a subscription to fire protection…

      • BrianneG says:

        Maybe you can’t control a fire but then I guess you shouldn’t start them yourself. They were burning trash and it got out of control.

      • SagarikaLumos says:

        No, this is what taxes are for. It should be provided. However, the county doesn’t pay the fire service for him, so it’s up to him to pay for it. Now his house is gone and it’s HIS DECISION THAT MADE IT HAPPEN. It’s not the fault of the people who wouldn’t respond to his call.

        And a one-time fee of maybe $1,500 would seem really dickish and would also get a lot of protest on here. Imagine levying such a fee on someone who now has to deal with a severely damaged home and lots of lost property. They’re in a no-win situation here, but they have to answer to both money and voters while the OP is neither a voter nor a (voluntary) taxpayer.

      • FaustianSlip says:

        This is the part that bothers me most; they refused to do anything about this guy’s fire, which is pretty heartless, but whatever. However, his neighbor has been paying his fee right along, but it takes his field catching on fire before they’ll even suit up and come out to do deal with it. I’m sorry, but if I’m paying the required fee for fire protection, and you know that my next door neighbor’s house is going up in smoke, you’d better get your asses out there to make sure it doesn’t spread, regardless of whether he’s paid his damn fee or not. Those firefighters had no way of knowing how quickly or in what direction that fire was going to spread once (or even before) it hit that field. All it could take was a change in wind speed or direction, and the neighbor’s house could have gone up in flames, too.

        I don’t like this privatization of emergency services at all, but the guy didn’t pay his fee, he knew that was the deal, and it sucks, but them’s the breaks. If I were the neighbor, though, I’d be absolutely livid that it actually took some of my property catching and a call from me before anyone would even come out. Not cool at all.

      • HighontheHill says:

        If there is no mechanism to force payment, which is what I am gathering from the data provided, then how can this work? You will wind up with a situation where people choose to not opt-in (like this guy) get their fires put down and choose not to pay a bill they cannot be forced to. This is not a plausible option….

        Note to those living under similar arrangements: Opt-in for the fire coverage…..

        • Johnny Rotten says:

          Of course there are mechanisms to enforce payment. That’s just being thrown around as a red herring by the “it’s an excuse not be a f$@#ing human being” crowd.

          There isn’t some magical get-out-payment-free card you can wave around just because you happen to be a few miles from the city line.

          There are many cases of multiple fire departments from different jurisdictions responding to a call, and billing out accordingly. This isn’t some unique jurisdictional case that is happening for the very first time. Governments are very good at is collecting money that is owed to them.

    • Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

      Well they could put out the damn fire and then charge him for it. Come on, it’s the guys freaking house…not something that can be so easily replaced.

  21. NoThankYou says:

    If this is now a fee service they should have put the fire out and then billed the homeowner the cost of coming out and putting out the fire. The 75.00 fee should be more like insurance as it would be far less than how much it actually cost to have the fire department come out in comparison.

    I however feel that this is a basic safety service that should be covered by our taxation.

    • hosehead says:

      Reading comprehension much?

      They are in an unincorporated part of the county, meaning they are not paying city/town property or income taxes. They do not have the same property taxes as the residents of the town, likely just a small county assessment.

    • Jfielder says:

      That exactly what I was thinking…. “well we can put that fire out, but you must agree to pay all fees associated with the job”, and give him a 2,000 dollar tab.

      To stand by and watch it burn is simply barbaric.

    • dg says:

      Yes they could do that, perhaps morally they should. But from a financial standpoint, if they did that, then chances are that no one would subscribe to the service, and everyone would only call when they needed it. That wouldn’t leave enough money to cover the ongoing expenses of operating a fire brigade, maintenance on the trucks, etc.

      It’s a harsh lesson to learn, but honestly – so long as the fire didn’t affect any other covered properties, let it burn itself out. That scorched wreckage right there is the best advertising you have for paying the $75/yr subscription fee. Wanna bet that one of two things happens in the aftermath?

      1) Subscriptions jump wildly
      2) County ends up enacting a tax, and just paying for everyone…

    • zibby says:

      That bill would be worth about as much as used toilet paper, and the firefighters knew it. The guy wouldn’t pay $75, you think they’ll be able to collect on, say, a $1,500 tab once the danger had passed?

  22. Yankees368 says:

    “Anybody that’s not in the city of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer, either they accept it or they don’t,”

    This sentence makes it sound to me as if this house was not in the jurisdiction of this fire department, but due to some circumstance (closing of that jurisdictions fire house) you can elect to pay for this dept. to come to you. It still isn’t alright to just outright tell the guy to get lost, there is something else going on here.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      The house wasn’t within the jurisdiction of the fire department, as it was located outside of city limits. For people in those situations, the nearby city offers subscriptions for fire protection but it has no authority to mandate coverage, nor does it have the authority to bill for services provided after the fire.

  23. XTC46 says:

    Awesome. One of my co-workers constantly complains about how much we pay in taxes and how much goes to services he didnt ask for (like roads, fire and police). Im sending this to him.

    I dont feel bad for the home owner, 75/yr is about 12x less than I pay for my car insurance, I cant imaginge thinking “nah…I dont need no stinkin fire fighters” when it comes to my house.

    • shepd says:

      $75 * 60 = $4500

      Considering most people never experience even one house fire, I wonder, how much does it cost to put out the average house fire? I imagine somewhat less than $10,000.

      It’s a gamble, but a pay-after service wouldn’t be a bad deal. And I bet you could get homeowners insurance to cover it for a small fee (That might even be less than $75 a year). When you consider the level of payouts for most fires, another $10k isn’t really much to ask for.

      I don’t understand why they wouldn’t fight the fire and bill the man for the work. It’d be the right thing to do.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        The wages and equipment to put out a house fire wouldn’t be too bad. The real costs belong to overhead — paying the fire fighters when they’re not actively fighting fires, their insurance, the equipment, workman’s comp (which is enormous), OSHA compliance, training, etc.

        If there’s a good year, with relatively few fires, the cost of protection doesn’t go down since you still need a certain number of fire fighters per thousand people. To be able to provide coverage, a consistent revenue source is required. Billing people after a fire doesn’t provide for this.

      • hosehead says:

        The cost to fight a fire, with overhead of a fire department, is likely closer to $30,000 for a true single family house fire like this one. It would take two trucks, about 12 firefighters and 2 officers plus officer vehicles. Figure 4 hours for everyone, cost of materials and amortization of (very expensive) capital equipment per incident, it is likely pretty steep.

  24. Mknzybsofh says:

    Wow this reminds me of the 2099 comic book series where you had to pay out of pocket up front for the police. If you failed to pay, in advance for the service, they would not even bother to do anything for you no matter what was happening even if you offered to pay them 100x what the going rate was right then.

    • cromartie says:

      That’s not a comic book. That’s garden variety Paleoconservatism. One need only flip on to a particular cable news network to see some version of it in action on a nightly basis.

      • frank64 says:

        No conservatives never advocated private fire fighting. They all say that there are certain things gov should do, and police and fire is always an example. Not good for a rational discussion of you exaggerate a view to make it worse than it is.

        • frank64 says:

          Corrected for typos and clarification:

          No conservatives EVER advocated private fire fighting. MOST say that there are certain things gov should do, and police and fire is always an example. Not good for a rational discussion IF you exaggerate a view to make it worse than it is.

          • cromartie says:

            You ought to do some research on who funds the astroturf movements that make up the political party that carries the water for your point of view.

            You can start with the Koch family, whose father was a founding member of the John Birch Society, who advocates this very thing. As do core libertarians and paleo-conservatives.

      • Mknzybsofh says:

        It was part of a comic book series that marvel printed in 1992. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvel_2099

    • WagTheDog says:

      Isn’t that exactly how the original gangs of New York got their start? They had fire crews, who would put out fires but only if the homeowner had paid up his protection money. Letting the rest of the neighborhood burn was the reason we got city fire departments rather than private. I think I remember that bit of my history class right….

  25. Mknzybsofh says:

    Wow this reminds me of the 2099 comic book series where you had to pay out of pocket up front for the police. If you failed to pay, in advance for the service, they would not even bother to do anything for you no matter what was happening even if you offered to pay them 100x what the going rate was right then.

  26. BrianneG says:

    It sounds like he wasn’t actually in the jurisdiction of the fire department. Notice he lives in the county and they are a city fire department?

    I grew up in a small town and there were township fire departments (all volunteer) for those that lived outside of the city limits. Maybe it’s a bad economy issue with the county. If there are lots of farmers in the “county” then they’ll never pass a property tax issue. Farmland makes property taxes outrageous.

    • Brunette Bookworm says:

      You know how much the tax increase would have been? .13 cents. That’s it. The tax increase would be cheaper than what people pay now.


      And now the area is expanding the subscription based system.


      • BrianneG says:

        .13% increase isn’t .13 cents. If your property insurance was $1,000 then you would pay $1.30.

        I admit, they should’ve voted it in. But people seem to vote down property taxes if they own a great deal of property and they convince others to do the same. My school district was rural and most of our funds came through property tax levies. And it was a pain to pass every single one, even when one of our schools was condemned and we clearly needed a new building.

        • Brunette Bookworm says:

          No, it isn’t. The example from the county document says:

          “Example # 3 ~ Increase in property taxes or enact “fire tax”
          This scenario would add an amount to the county property tax
          Records indicate that every .01 cent increase nets approx $42,000 in
          .13 cent increase would
          equal——-> $546,000.00
          • Example #3 would be the most inflation proof. As property values and or property taxes
          increased, or so would the amount of money being generated
          • Example #3 would place more of the cost on the property owner”

          So it doesn’t say a .13% increase. Not sure exactly where the .13 cent increase goes on the property taxes and if they really meant a .13% increase. It’s funny that the last option in their findings, the subscription based one, is the least desirable yet that’s what they have.

  27. smbizowner says:

    Our property taxes pay for our fire dept and they still bill you for the cost of fighting a fire to the tune of thousands saying your homeowners/property insurance should reimburse you for the charges.

    But the insurance company tells you no, we will not pay.

    and yes, this happed to our neighbor who lost his building to arson. $8g in fire fighting charges later and no his insurance will not pay. Me, if my building catches fire – let it burn to the ground. Nothing like double taxation here.

  28. hmburgers says:

    Other people have said a fire dept not fighting a fire is criminal… I agree completely.

    Just like a hospital will not refuse you treatment in an emergency, a fire dept should not refuse to fight your fire in an emergency….. but once that fire is out you’re gonna see a hefty bill for the people and equipment.

    So the $75/yr is your insurance against having to pay that $4000 truck/man cost to fight the fire.

    I’d also be curious if this person’s home insurance company will start up a law suit against the town or fire dept–after all the house is now burned to the ground where-as the damage could have been ten’s (or hundred’s) of thousands less had they put the blaze out.

    I’d also argue that if I were neighbor paying the $75/yr I would not accept that the fire dept will allow my neighbors home to turn into a conflagration before they start to hose off the side of my house.

    • JixiLou says:

      Not fighting a fire is criminal? So you want to put people in jail for not working for free?

      I look forward to your free, no-charge, non-profit firefighting operation you surely must be starting, because not fighting a fire is criminal. Go on, get out there and start running into burning buildings!

  29. qbubbles says:

    Ok, this is on the 2nd page so probably wont be read. He didnt “decide not to pay”. He forgot to pay. He’d paid previous years, but forgot this year. It happens. Its called old age.

  30. qbubbles says:

    Ok, this is on the 2nd page so probably wont be read. He didnt “decide not to pay”. He forgot to pay. He’d paid previous years, but forgot this year. It happens. Its called old age.

  31. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    I heard the town official. This is what’s lining up for you with your new so-called “conservative” survival-of-the-fittest society that they’re cooking up. Putting our fires isn’t a taxpayer obligation, it’s a “service”. Look for police response next on the “menu”.

    Damn, I’m happy I’ve go the TEA Party and the Republicans lookin’ our for the little guy like me. /sarcasm

    • TuxthePenguin says:

      Did you read the article? The man lives in an unincorporated part of the county. As such, he does not have a city police department, fire department. He does not live in a town. He does not have a mayor… does that make sense?

      The towns around have no ability to tax him to automatically pay for the service that they provide – fire protection. So, he has to pay for it separately. He did not in this case… so the consequences become what they are.

      This is not some political argument. Its about understanding the situation where you live.

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      Enough with the BS. The Tea Party doesn’t want to do away with essential government services. But keep it up, if you lie enough about them no one will believe anything you say about them that’s negative.

  32. Hoss says:

    The mayor’s statement seems to suggest fire protection is free for the citizens in the city of South Fulton, and on a subscription basis outside the city. Since those outside the city are not in his jurisdiction, I can see why he doesn’t want to support a county-wide fire dept on city property tax dollars. Unless I’m reading his statement wrong, he’s not refusing fire protection for his own residents.

    • Chuchundra says:

      In fact, the fire chiefs of the eight municipal fire districts in Obion County have had a proposal on the table for some time to create a county-wide fire service that would cover the entire county, including the unincorporated, rural areas. But since that would involve imposing a tax on these rural homeowners to cover costs, the proposal has gone nowhere.

  33. Pooterfish says:

    This is a lot like the bad old days of private fire companies.

    It’s not at issue here, but a more serious problem is the increasing tendency of municipalities to force citizens to pay an extra fee for police and fire services (on top of taxes already paid).



    Looking for extra income, cities are trying to argue that the taxes you pay only go to maintain a fire department — if you actually want to use their services, you have to pay a separate annual service fee.

  34. D0rk says:

    Ugh, I couldn’t willingly live in a town where basic firefighting services were “rented” from a neighboring town because they didn’t provide it for themselves.

  35. jsemtp says:

    And why should they provide a service that everybody else pays for? These are the kind of people who refuse to pay, based on whatever brainless reasons they have. Good for the firemen. There is no mention though of how many years the home owner has refused. If this was a situation where they first moved into the area, and did not know any better that is one thing. However, in these cases it’s where people year after year refuse to pay. I had the pleasure of watching a concrete company burn and go out of business because the owner refused a $100/yr membership. Many departments in rural areas only exists on these fee’s, because whenever it goes before voters for a tax, everybody freaks out, so long as they never have a fire, they don’t care.

    • nextyearsgirl says:

      Good for the firemen? GOOD FOR THE FIREMEN? The had ample means and opportunity to prevent a family from losing everything they had on earth and stood by and did nothing because of a FEE?

      It disgusts me how many people on this site decry corporate greed but in a situation like this are more than happy to puff themselves up because they’re sure they’re smarter and will commend the firefighters for being absolutely callous in favor of the almighty dollar.

      You and everyone who expressed similar opinions are terrible people. Have some fucking humanity.

    • El_Fez says:

      So you are happy that this family just lost every single thing they own on the planet? Their entire life – family photos, herlooms, pets? And thrilled that the firefighters just stood there and did nothing.

      You’re a fucking idiot.

  36. jeffjohnvol says:

    You take the risk of not paying, this is what happens. I feel for the guy, but tough crapolla, he should have paid his fee.

    It would be like me totaling my car and going to an insurance company wanting them to fix it.

    There could very well be some concern that the firefighters aren’t covered insurance-wise if they do it.

    Everyone wants something for free…

    • human_shield says:

      No, it would be like you being trapped in your totaled car and a firetruck driving by without stopping because you crashed in the wrong zip code.

      • scouts honor says:

        No, it wouldn’t because we’re talking solely about property damage here. Not rescuing humans.

  37. Silica says:

    “A Tennessee”? If I live in Colorado, I’m now “a Colorado” and so forth?

  38. Cicadymn says:

    Good for the firefighters.

    If everyone could just pay the fee when their home was burning down, then no one would pay for it.

    75 bucks to protect your home from fire. You’re not invincible, that’s no that much money. Pay up. It’s better than cutting and destroying the number of firefighters a city has.

    • SynMonger says:

      And my response to that comes from Jon Stewart:

      “Be a fucking person! A decent thinking, caring just a bit compassionate human being, BEFORE deciding to shit on another person as though you are better or more important than them.”

  39. human_shield says:

    Yes, he should have paid his fees. And yes, the firefighters are heartless jerks. The whole thing could have easily been sorted out later.

    If they see a traffic accident will these hero firefighters drive on by because they aren’t on the clock?

  40. Andy S. says:

    I know I’m likely in the minority here, but I actually think this is kind of awesome. I feel sorry for the man who lost his home, but he did have something that most of us in the US don’t have: the ability to decide whether or not the services of the fire department are worth his money and pay for them or not depending on his decision. This man lost the gamble, but I wonder how many others in his area who aren’t paying the fee will go their entire lives without needing FD services?

    I don’t necessarily think it was a good idea for him to forgo paying the fee, but I like the fact that he had the option.

    • FaustianSlip says:

      It’s awesome until a paying neighbor’s house catches and goes up before they can get there, or a kid gets trapped in a house and dies because their parents forgot to pay and the dispatcher refuses to send anyone out to keep an eye on things even if they’re not going to save the house. Then it’s probably a little less awesome.

  41. AI says:

    With this logic, homeless people should have no protection from the police or fire department either.

  42. ninjafirefighter says:

    This is just awful. I can understand some limits in terms of response (dispatchers decide where the fire fighters go, not the FF’s themselves). Firefighters work off three tenets: Life Safety, Property Conservation, and Incident Stabilization. I would like to think that if someone was trapped in that building, the situation would be different. Still, as a firefighter; I don’t think I would be able to be there and watch this go down in good conscience.

    The worst part of this is that this guy is going to have issues with his insurance company for not having fire protection. They may not cover this loss.

    • lettucefactory says:

      My brother is a firefighter, and feels the same way. He just can’t even comprehend standing by and *not* trying to put the fire out. It’s just so antithetical to everything about the last 15 years of his life. This is a terrible situation to put firefighters in.

  43. maggiemerc says:

    If firemen are now for profit does this mean we can stop calling them America’s unsung heroes? Heroes don’t generally watch houses burn.

  44. Chaluapman says:

    I would have already been arrested had this been my home.

  45. Chaluapman says:

    there is a special hell for this mayor

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      For not providing fire insurance to those who don’t live in his city?

  46. dwtomek says:

    Unincorporated county resident’s should not expect municipal services free of charge. “I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong.” That is exactly what this poor fellow expected.

    Hopefully taking a hard stance on this will spur others to not make the same mistake. Not knowing the facts, I would wager a guess that some fires had been put out for free-loaders for which the cost was never recouped.

    • SixOfOne says:

      Perhaps part of the problem is leaving all the firefighters to the cities and towns to provide. It’s been mentioned once already, but around the DC area, in Maryland and Virginia, police and fire are run by the counties themselves, not the cities. That would close this particular hole that individuals like this poor man fell into.

  47. hmburgers says:

    “Friends and neighbors said it’s a cruel and dangerous city policy but the Cranicks don’t blame the firefighters themselves. They blame the people in charge.

    “They’re doing their job,” Paulette Cranick said of the firefighters. “They’re doing what they are told to do. It’s not their fault.””


    The right thing to do is fight the fire. If they were standing around w/ their hose in their hands then they should have been fighting the fire.

    “I was only following orders” may be acceptable in the military where you don’t know the whole situation, but this is not the same…

    Those firefighters are MORE at fault then whatever idiot politician thought up this scheme because unlike the idiot politician who is detached from the event and who was thinking hypothetically, those fire fighters were THERE AT THE SCENE, able to do something and they chose to “obey orders” and let the house burn.

    • Gulliver says:

      The firefighter did the exact correct thing. This homeowner FAILED to do his job. Why should a firefighter risk their life for a clown who is too cheap or stupid to pay his bill? Sorry, but if you want people bailing your inbred ass out of trouble, you better make sure you pay upfront.
      I would have roasted marshmellows with the firefighters. I guess Tennessee is really anti-socialism on everything. Funny how that worls.
      By the way, there is no legal standing to sue the mayor. The owner could have called any other town to come put it out. See if they would have rilled a truck.

  48. ITDEFX says:

    WOW…Just WOW… I can’t believe firefighters would just stand there and not do their job. The owner should sue the fire department and mayor. As someone had mentioned, what if someone was trapped? I am not a firefighter or EMT, but if I saw someone in distress I would respond as best I could and I would not charge them. Anyone who thinks it’s the home owners fault for not paying should really get some help quick. For some people in this economy, 75 dollars is a lot of money that could be use to paying another bill. I really hope the community puts some pressure on the mayor and the fire department to get them to foot the bill for this mess.

    • cheri0627 says:

      The follow up article talks about just that case, “if the fire situation is life threatening, fire departments will respond. However, that was not the case with the fire in South Fulton Wednesday.”

      • ITDEFX says:

        Ummmm… a HOME FIRE CAN BE LIFE THREATENING!! I wonder what the guy’s home owners insurance is going to do in this case? Will they cover him despite not paying the 75 dollar other fee?

    • SagarikaLumos says:

      Why? Neither the fire department nor the (city) mayor had anything to do with choosing to not cover this guy’s home and property. The OP didn’t pay the fee, and the county government didn’t make this service something that was covered by the property taxes. The county aldermen (or whatever title they use there) didn’t want to run an unpopular tax increase, and the OP was careless or willfully didn’t pay his $75. Blame the people whose fault it is…no the city mayor or the city firefighters.

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      How is it their job? I fix computers- does that mean I’m required to step in if someone has a computer problem in a coffee shop?

      • El_Fez says:

        If it’s something you can do, why not? It’s called being a fucking human and helping each other out. We’re all part of a community, you know.

        Well some of us are, at least.

      • trey says:

        so you are comparing fixing a computer (a completely optional piece of equipment) to a family home burning down? yep, sounds like you are comparing apples to apples, oh wait, nope, you’re an idiot. go fix the computer in the basement apartment you share with your mom.

    • HighontheHill says:

      WOW, just WOW, I cannot believe someone living in a county with NO FIRE SERVICES would OPT-OUT of paying the subscription for such a potentially critical SERVICE. Sucks big-time but some CHOICES have lingering repercussions.

  49. superfluousK says:

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    • dwtomek says:

      Or alternatively my tax money can continue to fund the local fire services. Living in an unincorporated sub division has its perks and its cons. They might not have to pay those municipal taxes, but they shouldn’t be expecting the municipal services that those avoided taxes afford.

  50. GuidedByLemons says:

    Put out the fire and bill him for services rendered.

    Whoever made the decision to let the house burn is truly heartless.

  51. c152driver says:

    It’s pretty sad that the mayor and fire chief are so coldly calculating about this. Is this what we’ve become as a country?

    At a minimum the city should at least amend it’s policy to charge those who don’t pay the $75 fee a much larger fee if the fire department is called out to their house, whereas those who pay the $75 don’t pay anything for a fire call.

    And it sounds like the residents of unincorporated parts of the county would be wise to work on forming a volunteer fire department.

  52. AI says:

    The action of these firefighters has now officially canceled the ‘Hero’ status every firefighter received after 9/11.

  53. majortom1981 says:

    That is horrible . I bet the firehouse still has state run stuff. here in ny the firefighters get a reduction in taxes. they still use county and state roads. so if its the same there they cant deny anybody service because they still use things that everybody pays for.

  54. gglockner says:

    Sorry, but there is no way the fire department can just say “it’s OK, you can pay afterwards for the services.” What would happen then is that they’d send a bill to the homeowner, and the homeowner would dispute the bill: “Did you really need 4 engines? I didn’t need you to save the shed, only the home. This fee is outrageous. I didn’t have a chance to shop around.” The next thing, it winds up in court.

    The job of the firefighters is to fight fires, not to fight court cases.

    Sorry that his home was destroyed, but when you play with fire… yadda yadda.

    • GuidedByLemons says:

      Oh, bullshit. By this same logic nobody anywhere should ever offer services for payment; after all, their customers will just refuse to pay and end up in court!

      “The job of the firefighters is to fight fires, not to fight court cases.”

      Yes, it’s really too bad that court case broke out on this guy’s lawn and stopped them from fighting the fire.

  55. Why is this on Consumerist? says:

    This seriously happened in America? I mean, I can imagine this in the Onion or something, but seriously happening? Am I the only person here who thinks this is totally absurd?

  56. finbar says:

    I’m not sure who is most negligent, the County leaders who failed to provide fire protection for the rural residents, or the constituents who failed to support & fund a necessary, basic government service. Nobody should be allowed to “opt out” of fire protection.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      That’s pretty much how I feel. I really don’t blame the neighboring city — I’m sure their budget can’t justify providing for free fire protection outside of its jurisdiction.

  57. Excuse My Ambition Deficit Disorder says:

    Isn’t this what the Mafia does (pay our fee or else)…or….one of those great 80’s sitcoms like the A-Team. I really like how they just stood around and watched the house burn. What ever happened to integrity, honor or how about being a member of the human race.

  58. Azuaron says:

    People on the Consumerist don’t seem to understand what “jurisdiction” means. Know what happens when you live outside the city, your house gets broken into, and you call the city police? They tell you to call the sheriff. They don’t, and can’t, do a thing.

    He’s lucky the city even OFFERS residents outside its jurisdiction fire protection. His cold-hearted refusal to support emergency services is worse than the firefighters’ refusal to put out his house. I’m GLAD the firefighters had the backbone to stand up to this guy.

    • The Horror... says:

      The last time I checked the so-called “firefighters” put out the fire that spread to his neighbors property right next door. Where does jurisdiction come into play here? Sorry, but you’re a heartless moron.

  59. The_IT_Crone says:

    I’m utterly amazed that people here are outraged that the fire fighters didn’t RISK THEIR LIVES for some property for a homeowner who wasn’t obligated to their services, and when lives weren’t at risk.

    • PottedPlant says:

      This. My neighborhood is unincorporated (we have fire service through our county taxes) and my neighbor three doors down had a house fire a couple of years ago. Once the firefighters determined that everyone was safely out of the house, they asked if there were any guns or ammunition in the house. There was. They let that sucker burn to the ground, as they should. Firefighters are called to save lives, not stuff.

    • JonBonWonton says:

      Another news cite mentions there were three dogs and a cat inside the house as it burned.

  60. JollyJumjuck says:

    This reminds me of people who lose their home/possessions in a fire, and then cry to the public for assistance because they were too cheap to buy house insurance.

    • ghostfire says:

      Between health insurance, separate dental and/or vision insurance, car insurance, homeowner’s insurance, separate flood insurance, disability insurance, life insurance, and long-term care insurance, there doesn’t seem to be much to live on. Oh, and if you own your own business, general liability insurance, employment insurance, etc etc…

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        Unless you’re independently wealthy, skipping out on homeowner’s insurance is an idiotic way to save money.

  61. The Horror... says:

    “The only thing that will redeem mankind is cooperation.”

    A big thanks for nothing to the so called “fire fighters” who held their tiny hoses while this man’s house burned to the ground. Over a $75 fee? PATHETIC! PATHETIC! PATHETIC!

    If he were my neighbor I would have helped him put out the damn fire. What is wrong with you “he should have…” people? Grow up children. This would not have happened where I’m from. When there is an emergency in my area good people come running to help FOR FREE.

  62. sopmodm14 says:

    are you serious ?

    what has this country gone too ? they should be ashamed, and owe this guy’s taxes back PLUS a house !!!

    they should’ve thrown the mayor in the fire too, i am so steamed, and i’m a NY reader !!! !!!

    • Powerlurker says:

      This guy doesn’t pay taxes to the city. He doesn’t live in a city, town, village, or any other sort of incorporated municipality. This man only pays county taxes, which don’t pay for fire protection because the county residents have decided that they don’t want to pay taxes for such a service. Instead, they’re left to contract with the surrounding municipal fire departments for their firefighting needs. He chose not to, which appears to have been a poor decision.

    • coolteamblt says:

      Ummm, he doesn’t pay taxes for fire protection. RTFA! He lives in an unincorporated area, and his coverage by this fire department, out of a neighboring town, is voluntary. It’s like driving without insurance, then offering to pay your premium when you hit a tree. Stupid, stupid stupid!

  63. Suburban Idiot says:

    I look forward to the day when there’s a dispute over who has or hasn’t paid and a person has to rush into a burning house in order to try and find his receipt in order to get firemen to put out the fire.

    But I guess that would never happen. Certainly we’ve never seen any instances on the Consumerist of people who paid a fee and were mistakenly told they hadn’t.

  64. Culture says:


    I offered to pay for full coverage auto insurance just as I rear-ended the idiot in front of me who stopped for the yellow light. However, those bastards at the insurance company would not take my premium. Now I have to pay to fix my car myself, instead of having someone else pay for it. Life it not fair.

    • GuidedByLemons says:

      It’s more like if you offered the repair shop full cost to repair your car, but they refused because you didn’t carry insurance coverage. And also instead of a minor fender bender your car was on fire and the fire department stood there and waited for your car fire to spread to somebody else’s car before they’d put it out.

      So basically it’s nothing like what you said.

  65. Culture says:


    I offered to pay for full coverage auto insurance just as I rear-ended the idiot in front of me who stopped for the yellow light. However, those bastards at the insurance company would not take my premium. Now I have to pay to fix my car myself, instead of having someone else pay for it. Life it not fair.

  66. Tim says:

    Later someone went to the fire station and assaulted one of the fire fighters.


    The thing about being in an unincorporated area shouldn’t matter. The township or county (or whatever it is) government ought to contract with the nearest town for firefighting, then put it in taxes.

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      Yeah. That’s a real win, right there. Hell, I’m gonna go punch the guy at Best Buy for charging me a restocking fee, just so I can get a “win” as well.

      • El_Fez says:

        Because of course there’s no difference between having your ENTIRE life destroyed, every single possession you own gone forever and getting hit for 50 bucks when you return a laptop.

        • Liam Kinkaid says:

          I see. Assaulting someone without provocation is fine in *some* circumstances, but not others. Thanks for clearing that up.

    • hosehead says:

      Yeah, his “town” should do something.

      Learn to read. He lives in an unincorporated area. He has no town.

    • f5alcon says:

      they tried that and the residents voted down a mandatory fee. It is just stuff, a house is just a bunch of materials, the fact that people build attachment doesnt mean its actually worth more

  67. diasdiem says:

    Isn’t this racketeering? You have to pay “protection” money for your house not to burn down?

    • coolteamblt says:

      No, I’m fairly sure that would be like paying a fee to not have the fire department light your house on fire. This is like not paying insurance on your car, then getting in an accident and being pissed the insurance company won’t pay to fix it.

      • diasdiem says:

        They were willing to pay the fee, or “however much it took.” I mean, this is not just a banged-up car here. This is a health and safety hazard to the surrounding area. What if, instead of just a field, it had been someone’s house that the fire spread to? Even if that second person had paid their fee, how friggin’ furious do you think they would be that their house caught on fire because the fire department didn’t put out the fire before it spread? What if there had been people trapped in the first house?

        • 99 1/2 Days says:

          Had there been people trapped in the house, they would have been rescued. But the firefighters aren’t obligated to risk their lives to save property that isn’t in their area.

  68. scouts honor says:

    First, I find it funny that people here think the city should have just expected the homeowner to pay the cost of fighting the fire when he obviously couldn’t be bothered to pay the small fire service fee to begin with. Just what makes you think the deadbeat would have actually paid up?

    Second, as someone else already mentioned, the firefighters would have acted if there had been a person in danger. But there was only the risk of property damage in this case, so save your moral outrage. The firefighters were under no moral or legal obligation to put their OWN lives at risk to save the deadbeat’s sofa.

    The guy admittedly thought he’d get something for nothing. He was wrong. Next time, he’ll remember to write that check pronto.

  69. Culture says:

    Can I get the phone number of everyone here who thinks the FD should have put the fire out? Because next time I have a house fire (I have had one before), I am going to call and ask you to come help put it out. When you don’t show up, I am going to sue you, because it is clearly criminal to not help me, because I deserve help from everyone for simply existing. It is my right.

    • GuidedByLemons says:

      I’m not a trained fire-fighter, so that would be silly. We’re all stupider for having heard it.

      I don’t think (and very few people are arguing) that these particular fire-fighters should face criminal charges nor civil liability. But they (or whoever ultimately made the decision) are still heartless monsters, since they had the means at their immediate disposal to prevent grave human suffering and chose not to do so.

      Since the homeowner offered to pay the cost of fighting the fire, fight the fire and bill him for it. If he refuses to pay, take him to court. If you never recoup the cost, well, at least you can sleep at night instead of living with the ethically reprehensible decision to let a fellow human being’s home burn down.

    • superfluousK says:

      DF. dn’t gt t typ tht ftn bt y, y’r spcl lttl dckhd.

  70. jake.valentine says:

    Out here in California we have a new problem that is the opposite of this article. We pay very high taxes on just about anything the state/local governments feel like they can get you for AND some local fire departments are now charging fees to respond IN ADDITION to the taxes you have already paid.

    There was a time when I greatly admired firefighters, but out here they earn exorbitant salaries (some are paid HUNDREDS of thousands of dollars) and ridiculous retirement benefits. Local and state workers out here extort whatever they can from the people in order to live their lavish, government funded lifestyles. I grew up greatly admiring police officers and fire fighters, but after living in Cali I just don’t see them in the same way anymore.

  71. cromartie says:

    Very few things in life are more pleasant than watching the contemporary American Paleo-conservative get his just desserts.

  72. davidsco says:

    What a bunch of Scumbags. But, I guess it serves him right for living in such a pathetic county. I’d move out, and take my taxes with me

  73. pot_roast says:

    There’s a lot of misinformation floating around for this.

    The homeowner had been contacted several times before, and each time he refused to pay the subscription fee. A county tax to cover fire services was on the ballot, but was voted down by the residents. The county has no fire department itself. This was a city issue. The area has more residents that live outside of the city just so they enjoy a lower tax rate by not having city taxes. If there was someone trapped inside, a rescue effort would have taken place.

    This homeowner rolled the dice and lost. You can’t get in a wreck and then pay for car insurance either. This is essentially what this guy did. If he had money to “pay whatever it cost” (like the article says he offered) then perhaps he should have taken notice much earlier and simply paid the $75. If the department DID put it out and he wasn’t a subscriber, why would anybody else pay? The department isn’t getting funds from the county – only by subscriptions.

    Also note that this set up is not common in the United States. It’s usually in very rural areas, if anywhere.

  74. rooben says:

    So, everybody is talking about this being like Insurance. Pay $75 a year, and you will have fire protection.
    Problem is that insurance as regulations which I am sure the fire department in South Fulton is not following; what kind of guarantee does my $75 have? They can’t promise the house won’t burn down, only that they will show up and shoot water at it, maybe save a couple people’s lives.
    The problem is that the fire department SHOULD NEVER be a profit-making department. You don’t look at your expenses, and decide that you can only support 3 fires this month; their job is to put out fires.
    What happens if they are requested to help put out a forest fire outside of South Fulton? Do they decline to participate, since the forest did not pay the fee?
    To me this is more like the mob – we will protect you only if you pay up front. Otherwise, who knows what could happen?

    • madmallard says:

      think of it as a voluntary tax instead. After all, who’s responsibility is it where he lives to maintain a fire department?

  75. JonBoy470 says:

    This entire story is absurd to the point of being Kafka-esque. The entire concept of “subscription-based” fire fighting is beyond the pale to me. To watch a man’s home burn to the ground over a $75 fee is morally and ethically reprehensible. Heads high up the totem pole should roll for this, and I for one hope the owner leaves his burnt out hulk of a house untouched as a protest, to act as an eyesore and fire danger for the community, and to reduce the property values and tax base.

    • Gulliver says:

      Thats fine. He is not on the tax rolls of the fire department he called. So more power to him. He can not vote for the mayor of the town, and is really just a leech on society

  76. peebozi says:

    this simply shows that the free market works. no need for government involvement here.

    Ben Franklin…the “Original American Hating Socialist Scum”

  77. suez says:

    City fire departments used to be like this 150 years ago, etc. You had to pay a fee to whichever department you favored, and in return they gave you a plaque you would hang above your door to indicate you were paid up. If a fire broke out and they arrived only to find you didn’t have the plaque or the wrong plaque, you were SOL. Sometimes it would result in mass riots and major fires because the firemen’s main interest was not in serving the public but in serving their clientele. THAT was why tax-funded fire departments were started up–to PREVENT those things. I think it’s insane for anyone to wish we could go back to that system.

  78. eigenvector says:

    In my parents hometown, the fire dept is volunteer. To offset lack of donations and low fundraising success, they charge $50 or so bucks a year for their service.

    If your house catches on fire and you haven’t paid, they will STILL RESPOND and fight the fire. Later, you can expect a bill of several hundred dollars. Seems really damn reasonable to me. That should be the situation there in that Tennessee county.

    The OP was a dbag for thinking he could get away without paying and the firefighters were just following city policy, but it’s pretty awful that he lost pretty much everything over $75.

  79. StevePierce says:

    Lets see, he wants lower taxes but living in a place with no fire service. Then he opts to not pay for fire service. Then he blames the neighboring community and leaders for letting his house burn.

    Fire protection is not a right protected by the constitution.

    The OP made a choice, he chose to save $75 and lose everything.

    File a claim with homeowners insurance company, assuming he paid for that, and get on with life.

  80. aen says:

    When the fire department let my house burn down, they said it was because my check was still processing.

    I once got in a wreck in an unincorporated area, I had to prepay the 911 dispatcher over the phone before they dispatched a responder.

    What if the fire started on his neighbor’s lot and spread to his?

  81. MurKam says:

    This is a preview of the “you-are-on-your-own” world of the Tea Party.

  82. borgia says:

    How is this any different than not paying insurance? I doubt this board would be full of outrage if this man had not payed his car insurance and then crashed his car. (Oh Please Lets buy him another). He chose to buy in an unincorporated area where there is no city providing services, and hence no taxes, and he choose not to pay for these services. Finally, he should just be happy no one lost their life. A house is just property, losing it is not a tragedy. Losing a house and thinking your life is over is closer to comedy.

  83. Xeos says:

    The man chose to not pay the fee, and knew this was the consequence. What’s the big deal? Should my car insurance company fix my car, even though I only pay liability?

  84. Macgyver says:

    Why the hell should you pay a fee to the fire department, that’s one of the services that tax dollars pay for.

    • coolteamblt says:

      *headdesk* RTFA. He doesn’t pay taxes for it. He lives in an unincorporated area, where the county doesn’t provide a fire department. The neighboring city offers to extend their coverage to his unincorporated community for a $75 annual fee. Guy doesn’t pay it, he’s not covered. Neighbor pays it, their house is saved. Simple as that.

    • ttw1 says:

      Another reading comprehension FAIL

    • TandJ says:

      Does Macgyver think I should bail out New York City and all of California for their faulty management? Mr. Obama does.

      Take responsibility for your own decisions.

      This kind of comment is why America is in the shape it is.

  85. borgia says:

    With regards to all the comments about police protection, in unincorporated areas only the county sherrifs will patrol and provide service. So, many unincorporated areas, like those around houston, will have a homeowner’s fee that then is used to pay the neighboring cities to have local police patrol and this helps protect the area. If you don’t have this you are dependant on the county and you have the slow response sherrif’s department. This is a choice you make when you live in these areas. The county only provides some minimal services the rest is usually provided by cities.

  86. evnmorlo says:

    75% of the time even with 50 firefighters playing with their hoses the house is destroyed. 25% of the time there is enough smoke and water damage that you’ll wish it was destroyed.

  87. wrbwrx says:

    Another ‘city’ i can put on my list of places i will never move to.

  88. peebozi says:

    So many posters on here remind me of Daffy Duck when he and Bugs take a wrong turn in Albuquerque and end up in Ali Baba’s treasure cave…

    “It’s mine, you understand?! Mine! All mine! Get back in there! Down, down, down! Go, go, go! Mine, mine mine! Mwahahahahahaha!”
    “I’m rich! I’m wealthy! I’m independent! I’m socially secure!”

    It’s funny in animated form, not so funny when coming from actual humans.

  89. Red_Eye says:

    Hows about this fellas, you payz me the $$$ and I make sure no one comes in and kicks your ass.

    What do you mean this is extortion?

  90. scotchguard says:

    This is just terrible.

    Not the fact that he tried to get away with not paying. If he knew the fire department in his area was a subscription service, he elected not to pay and therefore elected not to have their services.

    What I do disagree with, however, is the fact that he tried to pay on the spot and they refused. That sounds like it was just for revenge or to “make a point”. They should have taken his money right then and put out the fire.

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      But isn’t that like offering to pay that month’s premium to your car insurance, AFTER you had an accident? Offering to pay on the spot only works if you are a pay-by-case basis. Otherwise NO ONE would pay the yearly fee, and just pay on the spot. If they did it that way, they’d have to charge you like $10k to show up and put out your fire.

  91. StarVapor says:

    Wait until some cops respond to a rape-in-progress call and realize the victim didn’t pay her protection bill allowing them to take a donut and coffee break in their squad car while watching the rest of the crime.

    • libertysubvian says:

      Don’t laugh so fast at that one. A few years ago some off-duty NY cops witnessed a rape in Central Park. It was caught on video that they stood around watching a young woman get gang raped. You know, because they were off-duty…

  92. Emily says:

    This would be funny if it weren’t despicable. I hope this story causes the local or federal government to outlaw this type of thing.

    These “firefighters” appear to lack one of the fundamental requirements of the job: a sense of public duty.

    • Liam Kinkaid says:

      Outlaw what type of thing? Covering people outside your tax jurisdiction by subscription? Great, you just lost everyone in unincorporated areas that don’t fund firefighters through taxes their fire department protection.

      • Emily says:

        Yes, exactly. There should be a requirement that police and fire services be provided everywhere within a country’s borders and that they be funded by taxes. If this subscription model was an experiment, it failed.

  93. crb042 says:

    what worries me is the potential for this system to break down.

    “Help, my house is on fire!”
    “Sorry, you’re not paid up.”
    “But I am paid up!!!!!”
    “Sorry, the system says we shouldn’t help you. Can you produce proof of payment?”

  94. JohnDeere says:

    if they were on his property and wouldnt put out the fire they were tresspassing. he should press charges against everyone of the sorry piece of shit parasites.

  95. hypochondriac says:

    IIRC an updated article stated the Owner started the fire in his own backyard to burn trash or something. Even though the area was going through a drought. He didn’t have a burn permit either. So I say he got what he deserved

  96. thor79 says:

    He was calling their bluff…he lost. Pretty straight forward.

  97. Gulliver says:

    “The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire! We don’t need no water let the motherfucker burn!”

  98. Jack Handy Manny says:

    Everybody keep in mind this is like calling Sacremento to put out a fire in San Francisco. What if the fire department responded and put the fire out and someone’s house inside of that departments’ jurisdiction burnt down or someone died? Pay the stupid fee, cheepskate. Hopefully you had some insurance on your dwelling.

  99. colione112 says:

    What would happen if the fire started at one house that did pay the $75 fee… but then spread to a neighbor’s house that didn’t pay the fee? Would the second house be covered since it started at a covered house? Also, what if someone was trapped inside? Would they go in and get them but leave the fire burning?

    Why wouldn’t they just charged everyone the $75 through property taxes and be done with it?

  100. NYGuy1976 says:

    Arent most small towns in America volunteer fire departments. If so you cant really blame people for not doing a job they arent paid for anyway.

  101. Dave on bass says:

    I don’t care what the subscription model says. If you’re a firefighter and you just watch a home burn down and could have prevented it: Pardon my French, but you’re an asshole.

    All the people in this thread comparing it to insurance: it’s not the same. It’d be closer, if the doctor was standing there with the defibrillator/epi-pen/bonesaw in his hand and going “oh, if you’d only paid your insurance…” but not the same.

    If they needed the money to cover the job they could have billed him for it afterward so as not to have wasted the subscribers’ paid funds. Just like in no-insurance doctor instances.

    • Gulliver says:

      No, it would be like a doctor refusing to do a boob job before he got paid. There were no lives to protect, and property damage is not the concern of firefighters. The job of putting out fires is to reduce injuries and loss of life, property is the province of their insurance company. Putting out this fire was elective surgery, not really necessary.

  102. ghostfire says:

    Do these firefighters stop to make sure city residents aren’t behind on their property taxes before coming out?

  103. u1itn0w2day says:

    Bill em, fine em, berrate them but don’t stand around with thumb up butt protesting. Either you want to be a fireman or not. This fire dept already failed in my book for letting the fire jump to somebody else’s property which it was their job to prevent.

  104. The_Fuzz_53 says:

    I blame the guy for not paying the fee. Why the hell should he get a service for free that everybody else pays for?

  105. UnicornMaster says:

    Seems like a good argument for the town to compel these services and take in property taxes on it.

    • madmallard says:

      Only this guy didn’t live in ‘the town’. They had no jurisdiction to force him to do anything.

  106. goldilockz says:

    The comparison between health care which if not paid for only endangers the individual, and a FIRE which could result in entire neighborhoods being decimated should the right wind happen on by, is absurd. Fires should be put out because they are hazardous to everyone.

  107. physics2010 says:

    I certainly can’t find any references online, but a boy I remember seeing a “tax disc” nailed to a tree. Turns out in the oldin days that you either belonged to the volunteer fire department, or you paid a fee/tax. If you didn’t have your medallion they didn’t put out the fire. There are no freebies. You either pay for fire protection or you don’t get fire protection. As long as the fire departments aren’t setting the fires, or collecting the tax (via city etc) and then billing your insurance company there is nothing wrong with this. I doubt this is the first year that the person didn’t pay the fee. There is no paying for insurance after the accident.

  108. pulsar0510 says:

    What I haven’t seen mentioned: what if he had paid and through clerical error, the P.O. or some other snafu he was placed on “didn’t pay” list in error? Would that make it ok for the firefighters to not put out the fire? If the list and payment delivery system are perfect and there is no chance for error well, maybe you have a point (although I still don’t agree with it), but until that happens they need to have system in place that is something other than “you’re not paid up, so we let your house burn.”
    That the error was the homeowners and not someone elses doesn’t make it less tragic or unacceptable.

  109. Keith is checking the Best Buy receipt of a breastfeeding mother (for tips!) says:

    Libertarians, Objectivists, Tea Partiers, please take note.

  110. The_Legend says:

    Why doesn’t the FD charge per call (ALA Ambulance) for those that don’t choose to pay the fee? I guess who ever is in charge of Animal Cruelty in the state might look into why they made no effort to save his dogs either.

  111. italianbaby says:

    “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.”
    the homeowner knew this upfront. no pay no service. it’s a shame but he only has himself to blame for his house burning down.

  112. ovalseven says:

    I’d sue for damages if I were his neighbor. He paid the $75 fee and the fire department did nothing but wait until his property actually caught fire before they left the station. They must have know that was highly likely to happen.

  113. Owl Says South says:

    meh. the firefighters came out, made sure that no-body got hurt. if the firefighters could have saved the house, then the guy could have put the fire out with a bucket and or a hose himself. otherwise the best he would have gotten was a fire-gutted water-soaked and damaged frame that would need to be torn down.

    pay the fee or deal with it. i cannot condone Assaulting firefighters cause they did their job. which they did… putting out the fire on the property where they have jurisdiction. that fee? also would include a waiver to allow the firefighters to be absolved of liability while working on you property.

    if you don’t have public fire dept, thats what you get for not paying you fee. he wasn’t hurt. no-one was hurt. his house and shit burned down. sucks to be him. esp if he doesn’t have fire insurance. or if said insurance tells him “tough luck, sense you didn’t pay the fee to keep fire coverage on your house, besides this politcy, it nulls our contract, we don’t pay”.

    • mcgyver210 says:

      And I can’t even condone calling any of the Lowlifes involved calling themselves Fireman.

      What if I could condone & turn a Blind Eye to anything that happened to the so called Fireman though? Sounds Cruel doesn’t it?

  114. smarty-pants44 says:

    I wonder if they would have still refused to put out the fire if he was in the house at the time

  115. zantafio says:

    Can you imagine the hilarity that would have ensued if the guy had paid the $75 fee, but the fire department was claiming otherwise because of a clerical error?

  116. mcgyver210 says:

    No one needs to be confused All the people involved with watching are not emergency service personnel & are a Disgrace & don’t deserve any respect. I have showed this video to Real Fireman which are 100% Shocked & can’t believe this really happened.

    If that had been my property I & those communist wanted to watch I would have given them one warning to leave my property.

    It is one thing not to respond but another to watch like you are at the movies.

    As for the assault that is just a small part of what these jerks needed.

    They deserve every bad thing that comes their way & I personally hope they get punished.

  117. Scryer_360 says:

    So first, people whine and complain that they have to pay taxes, because of course they are infinitely qualified to determine what is a fair tax rate without any knowledge of what it costs to pay the people, acquire vehicles, etc.

    Then, when actually put on a for profit system like they claim would be better, they freak out and get upset when someone wouldn’t do it for free.

    And don’t complain that “well he offered to pay them right there!” Firefighters and emergency workers need to eat to, and they need to eat more than just “whenever a fire actually occurs.” If they would of took his money, people would just not pay at all until a problem actually occurred, and the firefighters would either starve or have to do something else in the interim. Hmmm, firefighters who have already done a full days work, and would be tired and stressed called to do one of the most tiring and stressful jobs possible in the middle of the night. Yah, that is a model for safety and efficiency.

    Like it or not people who setup institutions that required taxation were not all high off their ass or stupid. It made really good sense to pay firefighters out of taxes. The neo-con movement seems to think they are all smarter than those who came before them.

  118. MitchV says:

    There are many implications here:

    1. Liability. Why should that fire department take on unnecessary the unnecessary liability associated with his fire? The firefighters could get hurt. The firefighters might accidentally damage another part of the property when there is no agreement for them to be there at all. What if the firefighters are using their resources to put out his fire…. and they get another call?

    2. This guy did not pay. Why should the tax payers in another municipality pay for the service and expense associated with putting out his fire?

    3. If they put out his fire, why would *anyone* outside of the municipality pay the $75 to fund the fire department?

    It is a sad thing to have happened, but I can completely understand the reasoning behind the policy. This guy pays no taxes to support the service, he didn’t pay the fee, and he got what he paid for.

  119. no_wallmart says:

    Another sign of the fall of America. So sad. Literally, this country is going up in flames. BTW, those South Fulton firemen are scum.

  120. coym says:

    For a better example, let’s say you live in a country that doesn’t have very good health-care (Mexico for instance) so when you get pregnant and are having your baby, you jump the border to the closest country(let’s say the US) and use their county ran hospital. You don’t pay for the services, and thus are forcing others (tax payers in the county) to pay for the medical bills. Do you think this would cause a problem with the taxpayers? :)

    Same principle applies, someone lives outside the area that has good fire protection, so when your house catches on fire, you jump the border (so to speak) to the nearest fire department and try to use their city ran fire department. You don’t pay for the services, and thus would be forcing others to pay for the department bills. So the taxpayers aren’t paying for that service, which is the agreed upon contract.

    It’s sad he lost his house, but it is his fault. He didn’t do what was required in the contract for him to do, so he doesn’t get the service. It is really and truly that simple. I understand it’s an extreme (real life) example, but Americans like to go around thinking that they can have their way no matter happens. Life just doesn’t work like that. You don’t pay something you should, there are real life consequences.

  121. FMulder says:

    It is just an extremely sad indication of our society that so many people feel that it was okay for firefighters to watch a man’s house burn down because he didn’t pay a $75 fee.

    The only standard to reach that conclusion is based on the money, with no value system in place to consider that a person was in trouble and that other people had the ability to help him, but did not because a fee was not paid. And if it was just about the money, didn’t the man offer to pay at that point, is it realistic to think they wouldn’t have gotten their fee even afterwards?

    What if there were people trapped in the house – then would it still be okay that for lack of a $75 fee that people were left to die? I am guessing that more than a few commenters would believe that as long as a fee wasn’t pay in advance with the proper paperwork filed, then people deserve to not only lose their home but their lives. Because after all, money has to be made, right? God forbid a person get help if they haven’t paid their fee – what would become of society, then?

    I’ve been places where there was no fire department, no trained firefighters and no special equipment, but neighbors with buckets of water and hoses came to the aid of their neighbor to stop a house fire. It would be unthinkable not to do so. But in a ‘civilized’ society, with all capacity to assist, these firefighters refused to help? And in a ‘civilized’ society we have so many people who agree and seem gleeful that this man’s house did catch on fire when it hadn’t paid his fees. It isn’t because of any real dislike for the person, but an overriding focus on the need for proper fees to be paid. We should all be so lucky to have our ‘fees paid’ when we need other people to help us.

    Yes, the man should have realized that we generally live in a society where most people don’t act out of concern for other human beings, but based strictly on proper fee procedures and a glee for seeing others punished when they don’t pay their fees.

    • hosehead says:

      It was just a house. Stop acting like they stood by and watched a guy bleed out because he did not pay his bill.

      The sad part is that people refuse to take responsibility for their actions and EXPECT others to sacrifice when they try to take a shortcut.

      Have fun in your silly self-righteous bubble.

  122. FMulder says:

    That said,

    I also want to say that the number of people who expressed disgust at the complete absence of human decency shown by firefighters in letting a man’s house burn down because he didn’t pay a $75 in advance (because he was offering to pay right at that time, and even if he couldn’t would have paid it afterwards, even if in small installments, heck, if I heard the story I WOULD, and surely others would, have helped this man pay his 75 bucks fee) makes me happy that at least not everyone is just a bag of self-centered flesh.

  123. TandJ says:

    Sounds like a good reason to either join the existing fire district with the $75 annual fee or create a new fire district, hire a chief, firefighters, union, and then buy a fire truck or two and all of the equipment to go with it.

    I bet he was paying higher fire insurance premiums if he told his insurance company that he refused to be covered by the existing district. Wait for his complaint that the fire insurance company refuses to pay as he mis-stated his fire district covedrage. Why should they pay for a total loss if he could have mitigated their loss, too.

  124. laphroaigh says:

    Its sad but this is like me not paying my car insurance and then offering to pay AFTER i have a crash………

    I agree with the comment that he gambled and lost

  125. ShariC says:

    What we see here, besides the obvious inhumanity and lack of decency, is the failure for there to be a contingency plan to put out fires for those who don’t pay the fee. This could have been simple, but no one thought ahead. All they have to do is develop a policy which the homeowner has to sign before firefighting begins which offers up a fee that covers the entire cost of the actions of the firefighters plus a “service charge” for opting not to pay the annual fee (something on the order of $1,000-$5,000 to make it unappealing to avoid the annual fee). This allows the firefighters to make a better choice and the homeowners to essentially take a gamble.

    Standing around and watching the house burn should never have been the contingency.

  126. lawgirl502 says:

    What kind of person would sit idle, having the skill to stop or prevent damage or tragedy, yet do nothing? It is disgusting. Money should not be the deciding factor here- morals? ethics? helping one’s neighbors? human decency? This is more telling of the individuals who did nothing, than the idiotic rule regarding emergency services.

  127. CapitalC says:

    “Shit, I was just in a car accident, can I buy insurance?”
    “Did you not have insurance BEFORE the accident?”
    “No, I’d like to buy some now and I want it to be retroactive.”

  128. MikieJag says:

    Sure we take the high road now, AFTER the fire. Everytime a new tax comes up, I would be willing to bet everyone votes it down. Tax levy…No, Fire Support…No, etc…

    No one likes taxes, but it is this verything that taxes pay for. $75 for the year, heck most people pay more for cable, cell phone service, eating out…do the math. It was not paid, he took a gamble that they still would come out, he said it himself. I figured they would still do it…

    Many outer neighborhoods are doing this to get away and then when they think about garbage, fire, police, etc…All of a sudden a few bucks a month does not seem so bad. Private police? Private Fire? Private garbage? Sounds sweet until the bill comes.

    An I would bet the Firefighters were told to stand fast, not that they were heartless, but who would pay for the gas, time, water to fight this fire? No one comments on that, you can bet the water dept sends a bill to the fire dept and they pay. Maybe reduced, maybe not, but someone pays someone.

  129. BrownLeopard says:

    As a volunteer firefighter I want to say this about LODD and dis-obeying orders:

    If I am killed inside my district or out of it while on a mutual aid call, following a safe and lawful order, my wife and her son are compensated.

    If my wife is killed inside our district or out of it while on a mutual aid call, following a safe and lawful order, her son and I are compensated.

    If you are outside of your district and acting AGAINST AN ORDER WHICH IS DEEMED SAFE AND ACCORDING TO THE DEPARTMENT SOP/SOG and you are killed or injured, you/your family gets nothing. Does it suck that the family lost everything? Hell yes. Does it suck that the firefighters had to put out a field fire while the next door house burned? Hell yes. Should you blame the firefighters that are put in the middle of a dispute which concerns the MAYOR and NOT the fire chief? HELL NO.

    The chief was assaulted because he followed what is in the town’s charter. Is it fair? No, I don’t feel it is. In this day and age a district should be able to stand on it’s own two feet. Our small department has less than 20 active members, yet we hold fundraisers and write for grants to get our equipment/training. The fee? $1 per month on everyone’s water bill. That’s it. Will we EVER not go to a call? NO. Will we ever not put the wet stuff on the red stuff? HELL NO. However, if the town went to a subscription-based service, I would follow my chief’s orders.

    According to an article at firehouse.com, if someone is in a critical situation, they will evacuate the person(s) and stand back if they have not paid the fee. Is it proper? Most would say no, some would say yes. If you were in my boots and had to walk inside of a burning building knowing you could die and your family wasn’t taken care of because the homeowner couldn’t pay the fee, you wouldn’t either. Will I walk inside a burning house in my fire district now? Hell yes I will. This is my community. I am here to serve it with pride, honor and dignity. Oh, and no, we do not have subscriptions. If the person doesn’t pay their water bill, we still take care of them (it’s in our town charter).

  130. FaustianSlip says:

    The thing is, it’s easier for us to say, “Oh, well, he should have paid,” because on this occasion, no one died. What happens if you have a family of six with four small children who haven’t paid their fee? Do the firefighters just refuse to show up, as they did here, while a couple of kids are trapped in the house and go down with it? I can sort of understand showing up and refusing to do anything more than required to ensure that no one dies or the fire doesn’t spread, but to fail to go to the scene until the neighbor calls and reports that the fire has spread to his property? Totally unacceptable.

    The fire department in question should be thanking their lucky stars that no one was killed, or this backlash would be even worse than it already is.

  131. ThatsWhatSheSaid says:

    reguardless of them not paying, yes they are stupid for doing so, but reguardless this is absolutely unacceptable. in this country it is a law that you cannot be denied medical care especially in a emergency situation. they couldve made the attempt to put out the house and then bill for the 75$ and to be honest, if this is a paid company, it cost the tax payers alot more money to have them all sit there doing nothing, then the mundane 75$./year people pay to have their house protected. i hope this family can find some loop hole and sue them for everytrhing they can…absolutely unacceptable….

  132. dumpsterj says:


  133. powervator says:

    This is absolutely disgusting.

    What has America become?

  134. Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

    It looks like this family already got one free pass a few years ago. The neighboring fire department put out a fire even though they didn’t pay their fee.


  135. TuxthePenguin says:

    I’ll try to find the link again, but I read that because they didn’t put out the fire, three dogs and a cat were killed.

    That’s unacceptable. The firefighters and whomever made the decision not to do a darn thing should be arrested for cruelty to animals.

    Go in and get the animals (dogs would be easier, cat maybe not) and then step back and watch it burn. But to leave them in there? That makes me sick.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      There isn’t a fire department in the country that will put human lives on the line to save an animal.

  136. mbd says:

    This person lived outside the town in question’s jurisdiction. He did not pay any taxes to that town. As such, they were under no obligation to respond his fire, just as they have no obligation to provide police, maintain the roads, or provide any other public service.

    The person who’s home burned chose not to contract for fire protection. Since he lived in a jurisdiction that did not provide it, he chose to gamble he would not need it. When you gamble, sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. He lost.

  137. soj4life says:

    And this is why the small government approach by the ring wing is damaging America. I love that somehow it is a complex system for this county to calculate how much each property payer should pay for fire coverage yet they have to do the same thing for schools and the basic county tax

    The guy forgot to pay a fee he has paid in the past, we offered to pay it and more before the fire fighters came out and put out the fire in the field next to him. It is just sickening that some pinhead town manager will let a property burn down because of a $75 fee.

  138. Jimmy37 says:

    NO SYMPATHY! A subscription-based fire department is no different than insurance. It’s sad but a necessary experience. Otherwise, how would these fire departments get funding? Volunteer fire departments spend a lot of time fundraising with with bingo, carnivals, and other fundraising campaigns.

  139. u1itn0w2day says:

    So what would happen if my car caught on fire as a tourist driving through this area? I’d bet you the fire would be put out and I would be given a bill.

    You mean to tell me someone has a list at the ready of who has paid and who hasn’t?

  140. bshockme says:

    This is quite common in rural america… Not as common as it used to be, as most rural areas have gone from membership departments (annual fee for protection) to districts with property tax support.

  141. ginnel says:

    If he calls an insurance company that he didn’t already have a policy with and offer to pay the policy amount after the fire, do you think they would agree? This is the same thing. It is insurance that you must prepay. Why would anyone pay the fee if you could just pay after a fire? The Fire Company wouldn’t be able to stay afloat. People do not understand what it takes to keep a volunteer fire company operational. Which is why there will soon not be any volunteer departments. And trust me. You will pay a lot more in taxes when your community goes to totally paid departments. These people had a bargain but decided they deserved something for free that everyone else had to pay for.

  142. PhilFR says:

    I just shed a tear for the death of the commons.

  143. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Firefighters don’t take a Hippocratic Oath. They fall under jurisdictions and protocols, and I imagine they are often times stuck somewhere in the middle of “be a @#& human” and “lose your job for not following the rules”. Anyone who thinks a firefighter’s job is to stop a fire from simply ruining property doesn’t understand the entire concept that they are there to save LIVES – and if they happen to save your house in the process of saving you, even better. In this case, no lives were at stake, and if there were they would’ve had the obligation to go in and save.

    Sadly, this gentleman made a gamble and lost. It’s sad that his home is gone, but it’s a lot easier to replace than he is.

    Don’t blame the guy who didn’t pay $75 for fire protection. Don’t blame the firefighters for following protocol and not trying to save 4 walls and a roof. Neither are at fault. It seems like a crack in the state/local government is.

  144. sheshighvoltage says:

    Wow..disgusting if you ask me. Okay so he didn’t pay, and I’m sure he knew the consequences, but does that mean he should loose EVERYTHING he has over $75 as the house burnt to the ground? How can the firefighters be so heartless? I’m sure this isn’t that common of a scenario..

  145. isileth says:

    This is unbelievable and frightening.
    I never thought that something like that could happen in a civilized country.
    I guess I am not going to complain about the taxes I pay in my contry anymore.
    At least, should my house catch fire, I know that someone would try and estinguish it.
    I wonder if the fire department in this town would have moved in case of presence of people in the burning house.

  146. FaustianSlip says:

    So given that the fire department wouldn’t even come out to the house to make sure none of the neighbors’ houses caught fire (it took a neighbor’s property catching just to get a truck out there), what happens when either a neighbor’s property catches and goes up like a tinderbox because the wind changes or the department refuses to send anyone out, and it turns out a kid dies or something because they were in the house, and their parents refused to pay the fee? Heck, even if someone doesn’t die, could you imagine being a kid and watching your house burn while a bunch of firefighters stand around and do nothing? Good luck explaining fees and unincorporated county land then.

  147. pearlysweetcake says:

    Is this surprising? I live in Alaska where you can choose to live in an area that has fire and/or road service, or not. If you’re not in a service area, they show up if you’re on the edge of a service area and watch while your structure burns (they show up to make sure that neighboring structures don’t catch fire as well). This happened at my husband’s work and it burned to the ground while the fire crew watched…lesson learned, they joined the fire service area. People also fight fires for themselves in small communities (villages) without a fire service, it’s completely possible to do.

    When we were shopping for a house, we had to get one that had both fire and road service (fire alone doesn’t do you a lot of good if the road to your house is impassable during winter) to get a mortgage and insurance. We pay a (relative) arm and leg (16 mills!) for taxes and services, but we enjoy the services that the taxes pay for.

  148. f5alcon says:

    What if they fought this fire and while they were another fire started with someone who had paid and their house burns down because the fire crew was fighting a fire they shouldnt have.

    • mcgyver210 says:

      You are a Idiot because either way the other house would have burned down since they watched the guys house burn down while parked with at equipment & Lowlifes that think they are Fireman.

      I still hope they all get what they deserve especially the mayor & Chief

      • f5alcon says:

        they would have been able to leave and go fight the other fire, waiting there doesn’t mean they cant leave, but if they are actively fighting the fire they cannot leave.

        What if one of the firemen died putting out this guys house?

        Its a house, its some sheet metal maybe some wood and rocks.

        As for the animals would you risk your life for an animal and if you died your family got absolutely nothing because you were doing something that wasn’t covered by life insurance?

        also facts that are missing, the guy set the fire himself and the fire department had previously given him a freebie.

        • mcgyver210 says:

          So with you logic we should let all houses & buildings burn so no one gets hurt trying to put them out. WOW Great Idea & this should eliminate the need for Fireman LOL.

          As for risking my life I have done this more than once for animals & I would again because I have morals & a continuous & never have been good at taking orders from anyone.

  149. baristabrawl says:

    I can see both sides, but really? Who lets a fire burn?

  150. Palin Walmart LLC USA says:

    I see nothing wrong with this. If we could get Republicans or Libertarians in office there would be no big government because we would privatize it. Waste would stop and we would have more money left over for other things. I’m a Christian and proud to be an American and I take personal responsibility. I don’t expect somebody else to everything for me. Why can’t everybody else?

  151. The Marionette says:

    Oh well, their loss. They didn’t want to pay the fee, then they didn’t want the protection. There are plenty of other cities that don’t charge a fee for firefighters, but if you’re moving somewhere that you know has that fee, then why skimp out on it? Besides, $75/year? He couldn’t pay THAT?!

  152. bwcbwc says:

    And that’s what life is like when the libertarians and tea party have stripped government services to the bone and everything is pay as you go.

  153. houstonspace says:

    Although I think this is horrific, and that this is a prime example of why you can’t de-socialize everything (medical care included in my opinion) – a person must always deal with the reality they are living in, not the reality they wish they were in. If I were living in that area, I would be pissed as hell to have to pay for subscription-based fire protection – knowing that it goes against everything in my being – but I would sure as hell pay it. This guy really pisses me off because he forces me to side with nut jobs.

  154. abz_zeus says:

    This is the best argument for having fire services paid at your state/federal level. I live in the UK and London has had a legislated fire service since 1865, with Edinburgh first in 1824 the rest of the country was covered in 1938 (just before WW2!) though a lot of towns (1600+) had fire services before 1938.

  155. madderhatter says:

    I could understand this, maybe, if it was a volunteer fire department and the fire fighters didn’t get a salary. I’m sure these “fire fighting professionals” get a salary for showing up at work, and their job is to put out fires. That’s what they get paid to do. Maybe they don’t get a salary and get paid just from subscriptions ? Not likely.