I received this Email from a fellow firefighter friend:
A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.
The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn’t do anything to stop his house from burning.
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.
This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn’t put it out. It wasn’t until that fire spread to a neighbor’s property, that anyone would respond.
Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.
“I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong,” said Gene Cranick.
Bottom line: the firefighters were there and they should have put the fire out. Standing by and doing nothing was cruel.
Daniel Foster at National Review discusses some of the issues, including the moral dimension but this is really a simple matter; there are some things government should do and one of them is creating and maintaining a fire department. Voluntary participation in a fire district is stupid and self defeating. The man whose house burned down shouldn’t have been billed; he should have been taxed. And if the town didn’t have the ability to tax him, then the state, or the county, or the township should do so and pass on the money to the fire district.
Libertarianism is a fine thing – until you’re being raped or your house burns down. Then it becomes clear that there are limits to voluntary participation in government.
The following is my Rant… I mean reply.
Until just recently(last 100 years), this was the way all departments were setup. It was the precursor of fire insurance. Beats the shit out of the property tax screwing we now have. The current scheme is nothing more or less than socialism. Why should I have to pay for the equipment and staff necessary to fight the fire at a neighbor’s home because they haven’t taken the safety precautions I have.
Where I use to live some neighbors refused to cut the pretty trees near their homes, in some cases these idiots would build a wood deck AROUND a tree. On the other hand, I created hundreds of feet of defensible space. When the Missionary ridge fire came raging through, most of my neighbor’s homes were lost, but mine wasn’t. However the firefighters wasted thousands of man hours and dollars trying to save these homes that stupid choices selected to burn.
Where we currently live I have cut ACRES of defensible space around our home, I spent big bucks for top-of-the-line electrical equipment, installed my own private high volume pressurized fire hydrant, lightning rod, grounded chimneys, and other common sense fire precautions. I refuse to expect someone else to pay for my own laziness, cheapness or stupidity.