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Subject: Firefighters watch house burn down because the owner didn't pay rss

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True Blue Jon
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I saw this linked from a friend on facebook:

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2010/10/4/907568/-Houses-s...
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I'll guess they've learned to start paying their fee.
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Huh...surprised the Fire Dept. wouldn't take payment at the scene. Seems like there should be some type of "premium" you could pay for immediate service.
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TOGB
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Stories like this only serve to perpetuate the myth that Tea-Partiers are out there advocating for no government services at all, especially fire and police protection. That's nowhere near the case (though some individuals might be...), and if anything should be learned from this scenario is that towns might want to use this as an example of why not to privatize the fire department.

It is obviously sad - no family losing their house wouldn't be - but it is also a case of 'you get what you pay for'...or rather you don't get what you don't pay for. If I don't buy flood insurance and the waters rise and I lose everything, who's to blame? It would be sad, but ultimately I would be responsible for protecting my assets. For whatever reason (whether financial trouble or being cheap or playing the odds), this family did not protect their asset.

Now that all that soapbox stuff is off my chest, I personally would have found it very hard to be the obstinate fire chief that refused to try to save the house even at the incessant pleading of the homeowner. Were it me, I would have likely ordered my team to do their best and damn the rules. It might have cost me my job but I could have slept at night. In my personal opinion if the townsfolk are seriously disturbed by this (as they should be) then they ought to high-tail it to the mayor's office and see about getting that law changed.
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SpaceGhost wrote:
Huh...surprised the Fire Dept. wouldn't take payment at the scene. Seems like there should be some type of "premium" you could pay for immediate service.

I agree - sort of one of those situations where the 'victim' is fined for excessive public service utility, like when that lady faked her kidnapping, or when an idiot intentionally ignores warnings/signs/etc. and gets stranded in the wilderness (where the blame is obviously 100% his fault). If they want to keep the privatized nature of the fire department, it might not be a bad idea to write some sort of amendment like that.
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TheOriginalGameBoy wrote:
SpaceGhost wrote:
Huh...surprised the Fire Dept. wouldn't take payment at the scene. Seems like there should be some type of "premium" you could pay for immediate service.

I agree - sort of one of those situations where the 'victim' is fined for excessive public service utility, like when that lady faked her kidnapping, or when an idiot intentionally ignores warnings/signs/etc. and gets stranded in the wilderness (where the blame is obviously 100% his fault). If they want to keep the privatized nature of the fire department, it might not be a bad idea to write some sort of amendment like that.


From a cold view of the situation though, by letting this one house burn, the fire department now has provided everyone a good motive for paying the fee.
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Andrew Rowse
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Honestly - what kind of stupid, fucked up society would think it was clever to fund fire services via a subscription scheme instead of drawing the money from taxes/rates/etc?

Are the pro-capitalism-to-the-point-of-frothing-at-the-mouth lobby seriously that powerful over there?

shake
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Gregory Amstutz
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TheOriginalGameBoy wrote:
Stories like this only serve to perpetuate the myth that Tea-Partiers are out there advocating for no government services at all, especially fire and police protection. That's nowhere near the case (though some individuals might be...), and if anything should be learned from this scenario is that towns might want to use this as an example of why not to privatize the fire department.

It is obviously sad - no family losing their house wouldn't be - but it is also a case of 'you get what you pay for'...or rather you don't get what you don't pay for. If I don't buy flood insurance and the waters rise and I lose everything, who's to blame? It would be sad, but ultimately I would be responsible for protecting my assets. For whatever reason (whether financial trouble or being cheap or playing the odds), this family did not protect their asset.

Now that all that soapbox stuff is off my chest, I personally would have found it very hard to be the obstinate fire chief that refused to try to save the house even at the incessant pleading of the homeowner. Were it me, I would have likely ordered my team to do their best and damn the rules. It might have cost me my job but I could have slept at night. In my personal opinion if the townsfolk are seriously disturbed by this (as they should be) then they ought to high-tail it to the mayor's office and see about getting that law changed.


I agree with you. Fighting the fire, while technically not required, would have been the right -decent- thing to do. Then, after the fire was out, they could have had a lien placed on the property to recover the unpaid fees. That's the American way
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Wray Cason
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This locale operates this way because of their own democratic deliberation. I fall in the cold-hearted camp here. If these are the rules, it behooves every citizen to play by them or pay the consequences. It is that simple. If these rules are undesirable, it behooves every citizen to speak their piece and get the rules changed. The comments about paying a penalty at time of service seem reasonable to me but the bottom line in my view is that this citizen did not look after his own interest given the clearly understood rule set and there is no need to look any further than that to place blame for the outcome.
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This is really pretty stupid, isn't it?
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The firemen could have broke the tension by breaking out the marshmellows.
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Dispaminite wrote:
The firemen could have broke the tension by breaking out the marshmellows.


Having just checked the date, Tennessee would appear to be more than 145 years behind London, which abolished this insanity in 1865, the rest of the UK taking longer (all done well before 1938, that being the next date I can see).

I seem to recall (reading about - I'm not that old) FDR using that you'd lend help to a neighbour fighting a fire as an analogy for Lend Lease during the war (and wanting the hose back afterwards). Good thing he wasn't from Tennessee.
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John So-And-So
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Dispaminite wrote:

From a cold view of the situation though, by letting this one house burn, the fire department now has provided everyone a good motive for paying the fee.

It's true - extortion is an incredibly good business model.
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Mac Mcleod
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Dispaminite wrote:
I'll guess they've learned to start paying their fee.


A lot of other families in that area learned the same object lesson.

This and the medical comment are a problem that if you incent a lot of freeloaders, the system will collapse for everyone.

At some point, you have to be hard-nosed.



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maxo-texas wrote:
This and the medical comment are a problem that if you incent a lot of freeloaders, the system will collapse for everyone.


Yeah, or one could go for a system where contributing to essential services is mandatory. I'm sure there must be places where that wacky idea has been tried.
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Wrayman wrote:
This locale operates this way because of their own democratic deliberation. I fall in the cold-hearted camp here. If these are the rules, it behooves every citizen to play by them or pay the consequences. It is that simple. If these rules are undesirable, it behooves every citizen to speak their piece and get the rules changed. The comments about paying a penalty at time of service seem reasonable to me but the bottom line in my view is that this citizen did not look after his own interest given the clearly understood rule set and there is no need to look any further than that to place blame for the outcome.

What would Fireman Jesus do?
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What I find interesting is the nieghbors house that burned because the firefighters refused to act... If I owned the place I would sue the hell out of the fire department...
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I get the idea that you need to pay for the services, but I gotta say - that decision was nightmarishly stupid. The firefighters are already on site (and apparently were for a while), so it's not a resource issue - they weren't needed elsewhere. So put the damned fire out and bill the family for the actual time/equipment rental/whatever (much like ambulance services will on occasion).

Would they have responded if a person had been trapped inside? A pet?

I'm sorry, but that policy just created a PR nightmare. I agree that the structure of the fee (voluntary rather than mandatory) creates the problem, but it's a horrible decision on the part of the town providing service. It's a worse decision on the part of the county.

Letting someone's house burn to the ground 'cuz they shorted you $75 up front strikes me as petty. Put out the fire, then bill them (or their insurance) for the cost of the services provided. Instead, you look like heartless jerks for the cost of a decent dinner out for two.
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CapAp wrote:
Dispaminite wrote:

From a cold view of the situation though, by letting this one house burn, the fire department now has provided everyone a good motive for paying the fee.

It's true - extortion is an incredibly good business model.


How is it extortion? The family decided not to purchase the service, and the Firemen honored that the decision. That's the American Way.
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sbszine wrote:
Wrayman wrote:
This locale operates this way because of their own democratic deliberation. I fall in the cold-hearted camp here. If these are the rules, it behooves every citizen to play by them or pay the consequences. It is that simple. If these rules are undesirable, it behooves every citizen to speak their piece and get the rules changed. The comments about paying a penalty at time of service seem reasonable to me but the bottom line in my view is that this citizen did not look after his own interest given the clearly understood rule set and there is no need to look any further than that to place blame for the outcome.

What would Fireman Jesus do?
This is only a guess, mind you. Perhaps he would recount the parable of the ten virgins and point out how this home owner could have been one of the prepared ones.
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Wrayman wrote:
sbszine wrote:
What would Fireman Jesus do?
This is only a guess, mind you. Perhaps he would recount the parable of the ten virgins and point out how this home owner could have been one of the prepared ones.


The Jesus you know is very different than the Jesus I know.
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quozl wrote:
Wrayman wrote:
sbszine wrote:
What would Fireman Jesus do?
This is only a guess, mind you. Perhaps he would recount the parable of the ten virgins and point out how this home owner could have been one of the prepared ones.


The Jesus you know is very different than the Jesus I know.
I'm just working with a broken metaphor here.
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Wrayman wrote:
quozl wrote:
Wrayman wrote:
sbszine wrote:
What would Fireman Jesus do?
This is only a guess, mind you. Perhaps he would recount the parable of the ten virgins and point out how this home owner could have been one of the prepared ones.


The Jesus you know is very different than the Jesus I know.
I'm just working with a broken metaphor here.


Or against it.
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KAndrw wrote:
maxo-texas wrote:
This and the medical comment are a problem that if you incent a lot of freeloaders, the system will collapse for everyone.


Yeah, or one could go for a system where contributing to essential services is mandatory. I'm sure there must be places where that wacky idea has been tried.


Being fair, this was an unincorporated area of a county. In many parts of the US, this can mean that they're literally 50 miles from nowhere, so the funding to build out a fire service would be extreme. There are parts of the US with nothing more than the locals with garden hoses, and the taxes to provide fire service to all of the residents in unincorporated areas would be massive.

That doesn't defend this particularly poor decision. Provide the service, then bill them full retail for it. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
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Dispaminite wrote:
How is it extortion? The family decided not to purchase the service, and the Firemen honored that the decision. That's the American Way.


I don't think that the American Way includes standing by and doing nothing while something terrible happens to someone and you have the power to do something to stop it.

"When your neighbor's house is burning down, you don't haggle over the price of your garden hose."

At least, I don't want to live in an America where this type of action doesn't draw scorn and derision. It was a dumb, dumb, dumb decision.
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