Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tennessee Burning

In olden times, a neighbor’s home caught fire and any able human ran for their buckets and formed a brigade from water source to the burning home. Either the fire was put out by the community or it got out of hand and the building was lost. The point is, those that could be of any help showed up and helped. Sure there was probably an asshole or two, leaning up against a fence and chuckling. Their standing in the community was probably lessened immediately. Perhaps they even sported a black eye the next day.

Afterward, the owner of the damaged or ruined property most likely wholeheartedly thanked the community. Hands were shaked and pies were baked. The community, worn out from the bucket brigade, probably went back the next day to help the family clean up and offered food, clothing or shelter.

Not anymore, baby! Now, the unconcerned can just stand around and watch the flames leap higher and higher. You gotta pay up front for your fire service. Yeah, yeah, I’m sure you’ve purchased your homeowner’s insurance. But that’s not gonna keep your house from bursting into flame. You’ve got to pay your firefighter's fee. Now, really, there’s nothing wrong with paying for your fire and police services upfront. It’s a method called taxation. And I believe that it works. But this mafia-like shakedown thing doesn’t appear to be working too well, does it?

I’m surprised that the fire department didn’t shoot Mr. Cranick the finger as they watched his house burn.

Is this what America is coming to? Is kicking people to the curb the new national sport? I’ve read a few articles about this incident, and am shocked to read about people supporting what the fire department has done. And with the mayor’s approval! Did any of the loitering firemen hear the dying howls of the animals that were trapped in the home or were they long dead before the fire department came to protect the neighbor’s fields?

When the idea of “pay to spray” was thought up a while back, was there a brainstorming session where folks could have brought up and discussed a few possible negatives? Did any one think that, should the fire department stand around and let someone’s home burn, that there might be some negative thoughts aimed at firefighters in general. I’m sure, that somewhere in this country, there would have been firefighters that would have just gone on and sprayed some water on Mr. Cranick’s burning house. They would have done what most of us would consider the brave and honorable thing. And now, we’re not going to look so highly at any firefighter thanks to those bad apples who stood by and did nothing.

There are a large and growing number of people in this country who would rather die than pay taxes. And now, they seem to be projecting this onto others. They hold rallies in the hopes of having our country dispense with collecting taxes. These taxes build and maintain roads, pay for Medicare, defend our country, and provide for fire and police services. This group would rather have everyone pay for themselves so they do not have to involve themselves with assisting others in any way.

This group I am referring to is also a group that is deeply conservative and religious. They ask God and Jesus’ counsel when times get tough. I keep thinking about that WWJD (what would Jesus do) line of thought. I don’t think any of the firefighters in this situation were thinking of this. If they were, they must have thought Jesus would go and get a bag of marshmallows and a long stick.

Several years ago, there was a house fire in my town. A man was driving by a burning house. He called for the fire department and left his car. He noticed animals in the home and broke into the home to attempt a rescue. He was able to save two out of three animals. Perhaps he could have saved the third at risk of his own life. I am glad he did not attempt to save the third. This man should live a long life knowing that he did what he could. He helped a neighbor. I don’t think he even knew the owners of the home. It doesn’t matter. He is still a neighbor. I’d like to think that if my own home were to burn, a neighbor would be there to help in some way.

I would also like to think that if a burglar showed up in my home that the police would come to help. If I were drowning that a lifeguard would swim out to help me. If I were to be raped, that a group of policemen wouldn’t just stand around and watch (unless they had up-front payment).

After this incident, I will never look at my fellow Americans the same way. I will always wonder if somebody would help me out of the goodness of their heart (or, perhaps, the requirements of their job). Should I walk down the street with wads of cash and hand it out to folks just in case I might need their help one day? Should I take a wheelbarrow of money into the hospital in case I might need urgent care? Should I hand out envelopes of cash to everyone that knows CPR in case one of them happens to be standing next to me if I choke? Should I write a check to every Boy Scout so that in my not-too-far-off old age that they might safely steer me across a busy intersection?

I can’t believe I even have to write the next sentence.

If there is a fire, I believe that firefighters should put it out.


Without debate.

Without up-front payment.


Fibra Artysta said...

Well said.

I was in a bad car accident a few weeks ago. The car was totaled, luckily I was not.

But because I complained that my back hurt, the cop on scene called an ambulance. Two weeks later I got a bill for $125 from the ambulance service.

I called their customer service line and told them I already paid the bill. When they said they didn't have anything in their records to indicate that, I told them I could send them a copy of my tax forms showing I'd paid for the service for pretty much the rest of my life.

The rep's response?

"I'll have to submit this to my supervisor for approval."

Nice, eh?

Vicki W said...

I think there's a little more to that fire story that we were initially told. I believe that the fire department there is funded by local taxes but this particular home (and others) are outside of that municipality. That's how they can up with the $75 program so that those homes can be protected as well.

I am covered by a volunteer fire department. It's a wonderful fire department and when our neighborhood had a huge brush fire (set accidentally by a stupid neighbor) we were fortunate to have response from 5 separate stations. However, if we don't pay them to exist they will not be there to put out our fires. I write them a check every year and, frankly, I prefer that to being taxed even more.

As always, I think there are 2 sides of that story and we are not hearing the full story on either side. They could have avoided the whole PR problem if they had a program that said either pay $75 annually up front or x-thousand if we respond to a fire at your home.

Kim Hambric said...

I see no problem with a later billing. If he missed one payment, then he should be billed that payment. If he missed several, he should then be charged for several. But under no conditions should the fire department not respond to a fire.

Anonymous said...

Kim - Great post! It is nice to see I am not the only person in this country who is upset over the events in South Fulton, TN.

Thea Belecz said...

I heard this story on NPR and was soul sickened by it. Yes, they also said the people hadn't paid their $75.00 fee. I thought... and your point would be?!! The rural fire department's response was unconscionable. Put the fire out NOW and squabble about payment later.
I live in a rural area with the same fee structure. My fire dept would not hesitate to put the fire out and settle up later.

Ellen said...

If the other side of the story is that the fire department couldn't put out the fire because Godzilla was blocking the way, then okay, otherwise there is NO excuse. I live in a country where this would never happen. Sure, we pay higher taxes, but we're covered: fire, ambulance, medical, no one ever thinks about it or questions it or has to negotiate some separate program, it's dealt with. This is ridiculous and completely shameful.