In a sad recent turn of events, a family in Tennessee lost their home due to a fire.  The twist on this story is that fire fighters refused to respond because the family had not paid their $75 annual fee to the city fire department for county coverage.  After initially refusing to respond, they eventually did to make sure the fire did not spread beyond the property’s perimeter.  They came, but still did nothing.

And now because the home owner decided to play Russian Roulette with his home,  those volunteer firefighters are being vilified for not helping.  The stories all read that firefighters stood idly by over $75;  that a mere $75 quibble ruined this family’s life.  But I ask:  When did we get to this point where home owners are alleviated of all responsibility?  Was there no cell phone, no cable or satellite, no movies or McDonald’s  that might be given up for a short time to scrape up that $75?  How was it they apparently offered to “pay anything” to the dispatcher for fire service, but couldn’t have paid $75 even the day before?

I have no idea where the property taxes of Obion County, TN go.  I presume they go to some services, such as 911 and State Troopers or county sheriffs.  Most likely, those services had previously been voted for by the residents of that county.   We can presume that the residents have never chosen to pay taxes for fire coverage; otherwise, there’d be no need for the yearly fee.  And, that fee would be mandatory — as in, “pay-the-state-or-lose-your-home mandatory”.

It actually shocks me when people claim themselves conservative and say that the fire department had a responsibility to put out the fire. This, coming from the same type who would probably complain about high taxes and government waste, or millions of taxpayer dollars going oversees for altruistic charity-like use.  This event is that in a microcosm.

My heart goes out to this family just as it would to anyone who makes poor choices in life.  Let’s just not forget whose choice it actually was.  If you play the game and the gun clicks five times, just remember who has his finger on the trigger.

Update:

One edit, I want to say that perhaps a means for a homeowner to have his house saved at cost of the department’s services.  Aside from any other complexities (ie, what if they save an uncontracted home without the owner’s permission), I believe we shouldn’t judge them for not moving along with the paradigm shift of American thought.  We once were a very individualistic country — that we could count on no one but ourselves — and have changed our beliefs so that we believe (many do, anyway) that the government is responsible for our care-taking.

Which sucks.

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