Photo of a house on fire.
Tennessee firefighters let a home burn to the ground. CC by dvs/Flickr

A home burned down in rural Tennessee last week. What makes this situation unusual is that firefighters were there, but an unpaid fee kept them from fighting the fire. The cost of public services has come under discussion because of this incident. The real question comes down to what the public is responsible for versus the individual.

Cranick house burns to the ground with firefighters on scene

Last week, the grandson of Gene Cranick was burning trash outside of the rural Tennessee home. The fire started to get out of control. The Cranicks called 911 in order to get help. Cranick was told he didn’t pay the $75 firefighting fee or at least he was “not on the list” of those who did. This caused the firefighters to treat the home differently than others. Instead of working to get the fire out to save the home, they just made sure the fire was controlled.

Why firefighters had a reason not to save the home

”The list” didn’t include the Cranick’s home because the $75 county fee hadn’t been paid. That fee covers firefighting. Gene Cranick lived outside city limits. Obion County, Tenn., doesn’t have a fire department. This is why the home is supposed to be covered by the nearest city. Every year, a fee has to be paid to South Fulton for coverage for those outside of city limits. The fee is $75 per year. Tanker trucks along with the larger fire department all get paid for with this fee. This is how rural fires are fought. Cranick claims he “forgot” to pay the fee that year — which could have easily been done with a no fax payday loan. Cranick was not covered when it came to a fire because he didn’t pay the fee.

Should firefighters have let the house burn?

The debate surrounding the Cranick home fire has itself reached a boiling point. Some are arguing that pay-as-you-go emergency services simply could not work — individuals would pay only when there was an emergency, which would not be sustainable. Others are pointing out that by letting a house burn, the firefighters were breaching their duty to public safety. What do you think? Even though the Cranicks hadn’t paid for the service, should the firefighters have let it burn down or not?




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