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Author Topic: Fire department lets house burn.
kmbboots
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Ok. To many of us don't see enough of a problem with that to fix it. Is that fair?

Note. I am not saying anyone is gleeful about it.

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Strider
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quote:
But the accusation that libertarians don't care is unjust.
Sure, but I haven't made that accusation.

I have a lot of sympathies for libertarian principles, but I think that libertarianism as a philosophy has the propensity to be one that encourages an uncaring attitude for others. And those attitudes are easily arrived at since while libertarians can certainly be good people, I think you need libertarianism plus something else to get there.

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Glenn Arnold
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Lisa: Your links prove he was notified. They do nothing to prove he REFUSED to pay. Note that he has paid the fee in past years, and claims that he forgot to pay it this year. It's possible to forget despite having been notified. As usual, you are putting words in people's mouths.

Flying Fish wrote:
quote:
c)I'd really like to know just how "involved" the house was when they arrived. How good a chance did they have to save it?
According to the video, the house was not burning when the firefighters arrived to put out the fire on the neighbor's property. It's not clear to me whether the house was involved after they finished putting out the other part of the fire, but it is clear that the firefighters literally watched as the house burned down.

There is an argument here that if the fire department makes an exception for someone who's house is burning, that people will refuse to pay because their houses will be protected anyway. As if having your house burn down is an everyday occurrence.

As I said in my previous post, fire departments traditionally have raised money through fundraisers, and there are plenty of people who give more than their fair share to the district, because they think it's the right thing to do. Likewise, some people give money to the public library, or to the battered women's shelter, but fail to give to the fire department. A civilized community recognizes that individuals can't be held responsible to anticipate every organization that needs funding. That's why we have government in the first place. Taxes make a lot more sense than a fee for service policy that's designed to be punitive.

Second,
Fundraisers are often for a particular piece of equipment, or because of a budget shortfall prevents hiring the necessary personnel. The fire department will point out to the public that they will not BE ABLE to effectively fight a fire, and ask the public for the money to buy the necessary equipment.

So let's say not enough people pay into the coffers, and the department has a pumper, but not a tanker. The fire department shows up at the Cranick farm and says "where's the pond? We need a source of water." There is no pond, and the house burns down. Or the town has one tanker, but it's already fighting a fire, so they say "sorry Mr. Cranick, but the equipment isn't available."

These are all legitimate consequences, and in general, the public is aware of such, and makes the best arrangements that can be made given the available support. I don't know of any fire district that couldn't be made better if more money was available, but as long as a reasonable effort is made, you can't really point the finger. But funding of the fire department did not come into play in this case, because the equipment and personnel were in place. It wouldn't have cost much more to put out the fire, so why didn't they? Because of a stupid policy that wasn't based in the reality of the situation, and because of stubborn leadership that was too thickheaded to admit they were wrong.


Finally, the analogy keeps being raised that Cranick is like a guy that doesn't pay his insurance, and then wants the insurance company to pay for his car after it's been wrecked. WHAT? The house hadn't burned down yet. I'm searching for a good analogy here, and the best I can come up with is that Cranick didn't pay for an alignment, his tires wore down and now he's asking someone to put new tires on the car so he doesn't blow a tire and have an accident. The mechanic refuses to put new tires on the car because the struts are still bad, so the tire blows and the car is totaled. Not a great analogy, but a hell of a lot better than the one that was offered.

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katharina
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It's insurance because a fire department involves risk. Even having a fire department is a hedge against the risk of fire. Opting out of joining in the collective hedge against the risk means trading the certain loss against the risk of a gigantic loss.

Insurance is a hedge against risk.

The model that is actually a problem is medical insurance, because medical insurance is not just for risks, but more like paying in installments for eventual certainties. Almost everyone gets medical care before they die, but not everyone will have a disaster to their home.

-----

I have no doubt that losing a home and your possessions is a horrible thing. But it isn't like losing a life, and that distinction is important enough that I think medical care for people who don't opt in to sharing the collective risk is worth the cost, but protecting property is not.

This guy had six months and multiple reminders to opt in, and he chose to bear the risk alone and not opt in. That's what happened.

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Glenn Arnold
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I understand why insurance was chosen as the analogy, but it breaks down with the "car has already crashed" thing. The house hadn't burned down, so it was a bad analogy. You can always buy insurance up to the minute before an accident happens. If you had a premonition that your uninsured car was about to be totaled and you went out an bought insurance, the insurance company would sell you the policy, but that isn't a very good analogy either.
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Sterling
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I wonder if in the course of putting out the fire at a home that had paid for the service the fire spread to a non-covered house the non-covered house's owner would be able to make a case against the fire department...
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Hobbes
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I am massively in favor of making fire departments a tax rather than an opt-in (or even an opt-out) scenario as I think fire is a collective problem ala the fire spreading from home to home that was mentioned before. I am also a believer in the choices made in this scenario given the context of the situation as it seems most people here are.

quote:
These are all legitimate consequences, and in general, the public is aware of such, and makes the best arrangements that can be made given the available support. I don't know of any fire district that couldn't be made better if more money was available, but as long as a reasonable effort is made, you can't really point the finger. But funding of the fire department did not come into play in this case, because the equipment and personnel were in place. It wouldn't have cost much more to put out the fire, so why didn't they? Because of a stupid policy that wasn't based in the reality of the situation, and because of stubborn leadership that was too thickheaded to admit they were wrong.
I disagree with this paragraph. First, there was a budget issue: future payments. What if they showed up and discovered that though they had the tanker truck to use it in this fire they'd have to destroy it afterwards? That's basically what people are saying. Just because they had the resources for this particular fire doesn't mean there wasn't a resource problem. And again he had an opportunity to make the arraignments necessary given the fire-fighting set-up: pay the $75.

"Because of a stupid policy that wasn't based in the reality of the situation, and because of stubborn leadership that was too thickheaded to admit they were wrong."

Which stupid policy. Along with the majority here I agree not having a county-protection system set-up (payed via the tax) was a stupid policy, and that whoever was in charge of that did make a dumb choice. Any other implication (just about) I disagree with. After having read through this thread I don't think anyone knows who made that choice: was it a vote, was it a choice of the governor, the county commissioner? We don't know, but once the decision is made we have to live in the reality it created.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
and he chose to bear the risk alone and not opt in
Once again, you're making assumptions.

I join a farm cooperative each year. Last year (maybe the year before, I don't remember) we joined, and my wife and I were sure we'd paid the fee. We went all year collecting our vegetables and doing our hours of labor, and several times we were asked if we'd paid. We responded that we had, until someone worded it differently "we don't seem to have a record of your check."

So we looked in quicken, and couldn't find the check. We wrote one immediately. Just an honest mistake, but these things happen.

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Hobbes
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
I understand why insurance was chosen as the analogy, but it breaks down with the "car has already crashed" thing. The house hadn't burned down, so it was a bad analogy. You can always buy insurance up to the minute before an accident happens. If you had a premonition that your uninsured car was about to be totaled and you went out an bought insurance, the insurance company would sell you the policy, but that isn't a very good analogy either.

It breaks down for two reasons: the "car" was in the middle of crashing, which isn't really a thing. No one has ever tried to take out an insurance policy on the car in the middle of a crash. Or at least with the hope of having completed it before the end of the crash. And two, this is preventative where car insurance is paying to clean-up. The money for insurance goes to paying you back your money when you need it (kind of) where here the money you pay is not correlated to what you would lose, but to what it takes to keep from losing it.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Glenn Arnold
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In any case we agree that the analogy breaks down.

quote:
What if they showed up and discovered that though they had the tanker truck to use it in this fire they'd have to destroy it afterwards? That's basically what people are saying.
What are you talking about? The trucks and personnel were already there. And even if they weren't, fire trucks are not single use items. Unlike much else these days, they are built to last.
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Hobbes
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The point is that there was a funding issue based on the idea that putting out this fire would diminish their ability to put out other fires due to minimal funding. Which I "equivilized" (this should be a word) into your analogy as a tanker truck breaking through use.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Belle
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quote:
try getting chemo with insurance.
I have. I did.

Some things to think about, from the perspective of a firefighter's wife:

  • This is not uncommon. In many cases, municipalities will have a "mutual aid" agreement which allows them to put out fires in another municipality. If there is no mutual-aid agreement, then they sometimes do have to watch things burn
  • Firefighting is a dangerous business. Firefighters get hurt, often. If they are fighting a fire in a home they are not supposed to be fighting a fire in - then their own insurance may not cover them if they are injured.
  • Most firefighters can't stand to watch things burn. I remember an issue several years ago where firefighters, due to a nonexistent mutual aid agreement, had to watch a building burn. They called their chiefs and begged to be able to go help, but were told no. If they or their equipment had been damaged, said the chief, there would have been no coverage.
  • Pets are not people. Firefighters are instructed never to endanger themselves by entering a burning building to save a pet. If they must go inside anyway for a search, or to put out the fire or vent the building and they have the opportunity to rescue a pet in the performance of other duties, then fine. But they are not to risk themselves for an animal.

I feel sad that a home was lost, but I am also unable to muster much sympathy. I mean, he knew the possible consequences of not paying. As someone already said - he rolled the dice, and he lost.

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Jenos
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quote:

I feel sad that a home was lost, but I am also unable to muster much sympathy. I mean, he knew the possible consequences of not paying. As someone already said - he rolled the dice, and he lost.

This is a viewpoint I want to rail against, because it implies intent to not pay as opposed to negligence to not pay. He's paid for years in the past, and he claims he simply forgot to pay. There isn't a lot of evidence saying he chose not to pay, and people keep bringing up "Man he got notices he must have remembered!" But I'm sure we've all forgotten to do things after getting notices, and the 75$ for firefighting isn't exactly the most important bill one looks to pay when they have to pay their bills.

To say that this isn't a tragic accident that doesn't deserve our sympathy because of a failure to read notices to me seems wrong. Its an excuse to avoid feeling bad about a situation. Its quite plausible to have an intent to pay and forget about it. A much less expensive example is fines from the library. I fully intend to pay/return books on time, and they send me reminders too, but I usually forget and end up paying quite a bit more. But to say I don't intend on paying the fine is a far cry from simply forgetting to, and the two differences carry a significant weight when it comes to determining our responses to the action.

And if there was truly an intent to not pay, then this event changes from "the tragic failure of a bad government policy" to "A person making a bad call", and the two require different responses. But I haven't seen any evidence to support the latter position.

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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by CT:
quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
There are several serious divergences here that are directly caused by government interference and not the market. For example, not accepting some ludicrously high on-the-spot payment from the victim.

From a pragmatic perspective, I personally wouldn't take a promise to pay from this particular guy on the spot, at least not in the context of expecting it to be followed through on. I wouldn't even take a check and expect it to clear without trouble.

He strikes me as someone whose logic and and interpretations of his own responsibility are heavily flavoured by convenience. Once the fire was put out, I'd be spending a lot more money to get paid, I bet.

That's a very good point.
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Hobbes
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quote:
To say that this isn't a tragic accident that doesn't deserve our sympathy because of a failure to read notices to me seems wrong. Its an excuse to avoid feeling bad about a situation. Its quite plausible to have an intent to pay and forget about it. A much less expensive example is fines from the library. I fully intend to pay/return books on time, and they send me reminders too, but I usually forget and end up paying quite a bit more. But to say I don't intend on paying the fine is a far cry from simply forgetting to, and the two differences carry a significant weight when it comes to determining our responses to the action.

And if there was truly an intent to not pay, then this event changes from "the tragic failure of a bad government policy" to "A person making a bad call", and the two require different responses. But I haven't seen any evidence to support the latter position.

I agree, the loss of one's house for the honest failure (i.e. forgetting) to pay a $75 fee is a very major consequence. Which to me is all the more reason to move to a taxed based system. However, I'm not sure what response you're referring to at the end of your post. The firefighter's response, the cities response? Our response as 'spectators' (so to speak)? I don't think it should impact either of the first two. The final one I agree, though I'm less concerned with the specific case than the overall principle (at least for the purposes of this thread). The consequences can't be different for someone that forgot to pay than for someone who choose[s] not to.

Hobbes [Smile]

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Jenos:
quote:

I feel sad that a home was lost, but I am also unable to muster much sympathy. I mean, he knew the possible consequences of not paying. As someone already said - he rolled the dice, and he lost.

This is a viewpoint I want to rail against, because it implies intent to not pay as opposed to negligence to not pay. He's paid for years in the past, and he claims he simply forgot to pay. There isn't a lot of evidence saying he chose not to pay, and people keep bringing up "Man he got notices he must have remembered!" But I'm sure we've all forgotten to do things after getting notices, and the 75$ for firefighting isn't exactly the most important bill one looks to pay when they have to pay their bills.

To say that this isn't a tragic accident that doesn't deserve our sympathy because of a failure to read notices to me seems wrong. Its an excuse to avoid feeling bad about a situation. Its quite plausible to have an intent to pay and forget about it. A much less expensive example is fines from the library. I fully intend to pay/return books on time, and they send me reminders too, but I usually forget and end up paying quite a bit more. But to say I don't intend on paying the fine is a far cry from simply forgetting to, and the two differences carry a significant weight when it comes to determining our responses to the action.

And if there was truly an intent to not pay, then this event changes from "the tragic failure of a bad government policy" to "A person making a bad call", and the two require different responses. But I haven't seen any evidence to support the latter position.

Would you say the same thing if he had "meant to pay" his life insurance bill? Health insurance? Car insurance?

Part of being an adult is paying your bills. I can't say I've never forgotten -- but when I forget, there are CONSEQUENCES. He didn't want to deal with the consequences of forgetting. And it just doesn't work that way.

This is a completely separate question from whether allowing municipalities to set up opt-in firefighter systems is ok.

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0Megabyte
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Some consequences aren't worth it. There's a limit to what is reasonable.

Which means things should be set up so such a thing cannot happen in the first place.

And yet, this lack of sympathy is ridiculous. The man's house burned down, and nobody stopped it. This should not be.

By which I mean, not that they should have just gone ahead and done it under the current system. What I mean, again, is that this system should not be allowed to exist. There has to be a way that doesn't cause needless destruction due to something so easily overlooked.

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Hobbes
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quote:
Some consequences aren't worth it. There's a limit to what is reasonable.

Which means things should be set up so such a thing cannot happen in the first place.

Precisely.

Hobbes [Smile]

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Jenos
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Would you say the same thing if he had "meant to pay" his life insurance bill? Health insurance? Car insurance?

Part of being an adult is paying your bills. I can't say I've never forgotten -- but when I forget, there are CONSEQUENCES. He didn't want to deal with the consequences of forgetting. And it just doesn't work that way.

This is a completely separate question from whether allowing municipalities to set up opt-in firefighter systems is ok.

If a person fails to pay medical insurance because he forgets to, and he dies as a result(I don't believe this could happen, though), we do not say that it was acceptable. I would hope that people would recognize it as a tragedy. Should the parties involved acted differently? I'm not suggesting that. But to say that an event is not tragic, that there is no sympathy deserved, because a person made a mistake, is to me very callous. And that is a view point people in this thread are putting out there, and I frankly find disturbing.

But the fault does not lie on the firefighters for failing to prevent this scenario, rather, as many people before me have mentioned, the failing of a poor policy.

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MightyCow
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I'm going to start a "Favor From MightyCow Service", which must be paid ahead of time, $10 a year. It covers all favors from me saying please and thank you, up to saving your life.

If I see you drowning, and you haven't paid up, I would not lend a hand. You roll the dice, better send me my $10, otherwise nobody's going to pay, if they see me giving out favors for free.

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Foust
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quote:
But the fault does not lie on the firefighters for failing to prevent this scenario, rather, as many people before me have mentioned, the failing of a poor policy.
Nah, it's both. People in emergency services shouldn't be allowed to say they were just following orders anymore than soldiers can.
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TomDavidson
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Depending on the firefighters' insurers, they may well have risked their lives and equipment with no possibility of coverage if they rushed in to aid someone without a contractual agreement. That's a fair bit to ask.
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AvidReader
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quote:
Originally posted by Baron Samedi:
How many people around here do you think have no problem with people being denied chemo, for any reason? [/QB]

I have a problem with it, but I recognize that we have limited resources. If we have X amount of chemo and Y people need it, there's a good chance Y will be bigger than X. I don't like it, but I'd rather find the most efficient way to deliver the chemo rather than rail about there not being enough.

I feel the same with the fire here. If we want firefighters to handle these blazes no matter what, it sounds like we need to back up a step and change the rules on their insurance. You're not just asking them to fight a fire. In this case, you're asking them to fight a fire that - due to someone else's negigence - would leave them with no protection if they get hurt. That's unfair to ask, in my opinion.

As for how the county should handle it, it sounds like it's a funding issue. Should the state step in and create a rural fire department tax so the cities are now subsidising the sparesely populated, poorer counties? Should the feds so that eastern states are paying for the plains states? Where do we draw the line on fair?

As a semi-rural gal, I feel there's something to be said for making it on your own without government help. Yes, that means sometimes you take your lumps. But then you dust yourself off and get back to work. Maybe that means the family's split up sleeping with several friends and relatives for a month while they get the insurance paperwork sorted out. Renting's tough in the country, but they'll find something livable while the house gets rebuilt. It sucks, but they'll get through.

As a Southerner, I've been conditioned to find something noble in struggle. Life's hard, but we can conquer it. So while I sympathize with the guy who lost his home, I can't help but feel he'll rally and come out ok in the end. Or he'll move to the city. One of the two. [Wink]

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Jenos:
If a person fails to pay medical insurance because he forgets to, and he dies as a result(I don't believe this could happen, though), we do not say that it was acceptable. I would hope that people would recognize it as a tragedy.

Almost no one in this thread is saying they deserve no sympathy. I'm certainly not! They lost their home, and even worse, had to watch it burn. That's unquestionably horrible.

But to blame the firefighters is, IMO, absolutely unconscionable. I blame the homeowner for his irresponsibility, but far more I blame whatever state and municipal laws allowed this opt-in situation to exist in the first place. HOWEVER, given the situation that existed, the firefighters acted in the only way they could.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
Nah, it's both. People in emergency services shouldn't be allowed to say they were just following orders anymore than soldiers can.
This is ridiculous. We don't want soldiers to be able to say, "Just following orders," because when they do, sometimes people are killed. Sometimes war crimes are committed. And sometimes, they die themselves. It's not at all the same thing in emergency services. In emergency services, you need structure-they're not vigilantes. It's not City of Heroes.
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MrSquicky
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quote:
Originally posted by Foust:
quote:
But the fault does not lie on the firefighters for failing to prevent this scenario, rather, as many people before me have mentioned, the failing of a poor policy.
Nah, it's both. People in emergency services shouldn't be allowed to say they were just following orders anymore than soldiers can.
Soldiers very much can say that they were just following orders as an accepted defense. If I remember correctly, the bar for this not being valid has been established as if a reasonable person could obviously see that the orders given were manifestly illegal, in which case it is their duty to disobey them. However, absent this, a soldier is obligated to follow their orders, even ones that they really don't agree with.

So, say a soldier with firefighting equipment and training were ordered to let a house burn when he could save it. In this case, it would be illegal for him to try to fight the fire.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
... They lost their home, and even worse, had to watch it burn. That's unquestionably horrible.

Had to watch (indirectly?) their two dogs and cat burn. Thats the part that would leave me with trauma.

(Although I stand by my initial reaction that this is much more a case of a dysfunctional government than individual firefighters. A government that cannot reasonably manage fire control, private or public, white or black(cat) is seriously messed up. This is perhaps acceptable in a developing country or a prehistoric society, but not in the developed world)

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MrSquicky
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There are issues which come down to a problem with the government, but this sounds a lot more like a problem with the citizens of the county.
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Flying Fish
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Public statement from one of the 7 municipal fire chiefs in Obion County:

http://www.ucmessenger.com/news.php?viewStory=47109

A short summary: subscription type fire protection has been in place for about 50 years. Municipal fire departments have wanted the county government to establish a rural fire program funded by taxpayers in the county. I still can't find any news stories saying whether and when any ballot initiatives/ bond issues etc. have been presented to the county residents.

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pooka
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I didn't read all of page 2, but has anyone addressed the possibility that the firefighters could have been liable for water damage they would have caused in the course of putting out a fire in a non contracted house? Granted they could have offered the homeowner a release on that as easily as any fee settlement.

Fires are put out so they don't spread, but putting them out destroys a lot of what remains.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
I didn't read all of page 2, but has anyone addressed the possibility that the firefighters could have been liable for water damage they would have caused in the course of putting out a fire in a non contracted house?

A lot of strange things and undue liabilities could have happened as a result of the firefighters disobeying orders and not fighting the fire.

I think nearly everyone is saying, or at least can agree, that the members of the fire department here were put in a situation they shouldn't have been put in, where they're sitting in front of a house they are under orders not to put out. And very few people are callous and blind to externalities enough not to see a problem with the way this played out. Like I had posited much earlier, this is really a failure on a larger, governmental level a county without universal fire coverage confronted with the free rider problem.

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Tstorm
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Wow. Olbion's county commission is full of fail.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by Tstorm:
Wow. Olbion's county commission is full of fail.

Local governments often are.
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Godric 2.0
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Woah. Not too often I find myself advocating an (what I consider) purely ideological stance, but I'm in complete agreement with Strider when he asked on page 1:

quote:
How in the hell do you not act out of goodwill to your fellow man?
Sorry, all the rest is BS. Had I been the firefighter on scene calling the shots, that fire would have been put out.

In some cases it really is better to ask forgiveness (of the system) than permission. Let the lawyers deal with suing the homeowner afterwards for failure to pay.

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anti_maven
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quote:
Originally posted by Strider:
Forget about all the facts of this story. about the lack of a fire department, about the $75 fee to be covered. Imagine you are a human being standing next to a man's house which is burning to the ground, and in your hands you have the means to put out the fire. How in the hell do you not act out of goodwill to your fellow man?

That sums it up for me. How appalling.

In older cities, you can still see insurance badges on buildings. If you had paid you dues to the insurance company then you were covered int he case of fire. If not, let it burn. I'm so glad that in the intervening 200 years we've moved on. Unless you live in Tennessee... [Frown]

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Rakeesh
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quote:

Forget about all the facts of this story. about the lack of a fire department, about the $75 fee to be covered. Imagine you are a human being standing next to a man's house which is burning to the ground, and in your hands you have the means to put out the fire. How in the hell do you not act out of goodwill to your fellow man?

This has been over and pretty much resolved, but the truth is, if you're the human being standing next to the burning house, and you're actually familiar with the realities involved with what's really at risk in putting out that fire on a strictly unsupported volunteer basis? It might not be that hard not to at all.

Because 'goodwill' goes a lot of ways. But others have explained that already.

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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by Godric 2.0:
Woah. Not too often I find myself advocating an (what I consider) purely ideological stance, but I'm in complete agreement with Strider when he asked on page 1:

quote:
How in the hell do you not act out of goodwill to your fellow man?
Sorry, all the rest is BS. Had I been the firefighter on scene calling the shots, that fire would have been put out.

In some cases it really is better to ask forgiveness (of the system) than permission. Let the lawyers deal with suing the homeowner afterwards for failure to pay.

And you would be out of a job, and probably sued.

People have house fires all of the time. Are they suppose to drive out of town out of their jurisdiction to every house fire in the state? Because that is basically what they do. They leave their own area of responsibility and put out fires in other places, as long as the property owners agree to help pay for their services.

If I was the municipality, I would make sure that this was the last year I offered the out of area coverage option. Let them take care of their own houses however they want.

Why should MY money go to provide services to YOU when YOU aren't willing to help pay for it, when I have no legal obligation to do so.

What is one of the firefighters got hurt putting out the fire? Against orders, without a legal obligation to do so, maybe against the legal requirements? Who pays his medical bills, his lost income, his families bills? What happens if one of the trucks breaks, or a pump seizes? Who pays the repairs, which could be very expensive?

While what happened sucks, and no one would wish it on anyone, it isn't the firefighters fault at all, and they did nothing wrong.

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scholarette
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If I was the neighbor I would sue for any fire or water damage to my property. I paid my fees and if the firefighters had fought the fire before it entered my property, there would have been zero damage to my stuff.
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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
Originally posted by Godric 2.0:
quote:
How in the hell do you not act out of goodwill to your fellow man?
Sorry, all the rest is BS. Had I been the firefighter on scene calling the shots, that fire would have been put out.
[/QB]

And if you were that firefighter, you would now be unemployed.
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Rakeesh
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Not only would you perhaps be unemployed, but your department might be facing a serious lawsuit, and others in it might be facing considerable economic hardship, as well as the town or county.

Again, as others have explained, sometimes goodwill is complicated when you have responsibilities, Godric.

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
Why should MY money go to provide services to YOU when YOU aren't willing to help pay for it, when I have no legal obligation to do so.
This has been asked and answered: Because you have a moral obligation to do so. Also, as I've pointed out before, the majority of the cost of operating a fire department is having the equipment available, not actually fighting the fire. And given that the grass fire was burning for 2 hours before it reached the house, firefighters didn't need to endanger themselves by fighting a house fire.

Also, this is from Obion County's 911 web page:
quote:
Obion county, which covers 555 square miles, has 8 municipal fire departments. The County of Obion spends no tax dollars on fire service. There is NO county fire department, which means NO RURAL FIRE COVERAGE for structure fires exists. [Note: The Obion County Volunteer Rescue Squad is available to respond to grass and vehicle fires, but are not equipped to respond to or fight structure fires.]
Again, this was a grass fire for two hours before the house was involved.


quote:
And you would be out of a job, and probably sued.
How do you fire a volunteer? According to the article above, even the municipal fire chief is a volunteer. Sued? Maybe, but again, sued for what? The equipment was already on site, the firefighters were volunteer, the only difference is the cost of fuel and run time on the pumps. Which Cranick had already offered to pay for.

quote:
Part of being an adult is paying your bills. I can't say I've never forgotten -- but when I forget, there are CONSEQUENCES. He didn't want to deal with the consequences of forgetting. And it just doesn't work that way.
Rivka, be careful of assuming his intent. He says he forgot, I've been looking all over for a statement from the fire department that says anything that implies that there was any intent to "forget," such as a statement from the person who called asking for payment that he seemed reluctant to pay. Can't find it.

Now as to forgetting to pay his insurance, this is more like medical insurance than car insurance. If I fail to pay my medical insurance and I get sick, I can go to the doctor and pay cash. Which he offered to do. How does that imply that he didn't want to deal with the consequences?

quote:
From a pragmatic perspective, I personally wouldn't take a promise to pay from this particular guy on the spot, at least not in the context of expecting it to be followed through on. I wouldn't even take a check and expect it to clear without trouble.
First of all, a municipality has lots of ways to collect debts. They are city hall after all, they can garnish wages or bank accounts, or even issue a lien on the house. If you're talking about a potential tenant, or someone taking out a mortgage, etc, you have time to worry about whether the guy's credit is good. Here there is little time, and you're balancing what has been valued as a $75 fee against the value of a home, the lives of pets, and possibly human lives. You can't know how the fire will play out. As it is, their neglect put the neighbor's property at risk and could easily have turned into a wildfire that might have caused damages over a large area. The decision not to fight the fire and deal with the costs later was a stupid gamble, even if the moral issue isn't considered.
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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
And if you were that firefighter, you would now be unemployed.

With the same amount of coverage that this story got, you'd be a news hero. I could live with that.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
And if you were that firefighter, you would now be unemployed.

With the same amount of coverage that this story got, you'd be a news hero. I could live with that.
Possibly but maybe not, there's no way you can know if your story of heroism will actually get picked up. It's not worth the risk.
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James Tiberius Kirk
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
mph,

The guy has paid the fee in the past, and he claims he forgot to pay this year. You're starting off on the wrong foot by claiming you know his intent.

Then there's the many other problems with this story, such as the fact that the guy offered to pay "whatever it takes" to put the fire out, or that the fire department was present (even fighting the same fire) and could have easily put it out, but stubbornly chose not to. I hope the insurance company sues the daylights out of the fire department and mayor.

I've actually been thinking about what the insurance company might do. Would it be so unreasonable for the homeowner's insurance policy to include a clause forcing him or her to pay for appropriate fire coverage?

--j_k

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Flying Fish
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If you don't have a mortgage, you usually don't have to have homeowner's hazard insurance. A bank which holds your mortgage can use an escrow account to force you to pay the taxes and the hazard insurance. Also, my homeowners insurance (USAA) knows EXACTLY how far away the nearest fire stations are, what their acreditations are, what kind of equipment and personnel work there onsite, etc. And they set my rates accordingly.

Once you own your house, nobody forces you to insure it.

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Kwea
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Glen, I am pretty sure they were actually on the scene. I don't think I will trust your judgement on how dangerous it could have become, as you weren't there, and I have no idea about your training in the subject. Nothing personal....I wouldn't trust MY judgement either, for the same reason. [Smile]

If someone gets hurt doing it, they are screwed. If they don't get permission and the truck or pump breaks, they are screwed. Getting paid 3 years later won't pay the salaries until then, and the court system is just as likely to deny the claim as to award it. If awarded, all the guy has to do is claim hardship and the payments are lowered....perhaps as low as $50 a month. How long should they wait for the money, when they have bills to pay?


Had someone been in there, I bet they would have tried to save them. In THAT situation there is a moral obligation that supersedes other concerns.

But property?


You CAN fire a volunteer, easily. And getting sued is no joking matter. You could lose your house, your car, your savings.....all because someone decided to sue you after the fact.

You know, sorta like he wanted fire coverage after the fact.....

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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
I don't think I will trust your judgement on how dangerous it could have become, as you weren't there, and I have no idea about your training in the subject.
As I've said several times, the situation was different at different times as these events played out. When he called 911, there was no one on the scene, and the decision not to send trucks allowed the fire to reach the neighbor's property.

It's not a matter of my judgement. Fires do spread and can get out of control, easily. A 911 operator is not in a position to decide whether the fire is a threat to adjacent properties, but from what I know of 911, it is illegal to fail to respond, for exactly that reason. Even when it is clear that the phone call is a child pulling a prank the operators in my area always send a response appropriate to the stated threat.

As to my training on the subject, I often list "pyromaniac" as my former job. I was, in fact, in combustion research for 9 years.

quote:
You CAN fire a volunteer, easily. And getting sued is no joking matter. You could lose your house, your car, your savings.....all because someone decided to sue you after the fact.
Bull. You can ask a volunteer not to return. That's not firing someone, as they haven't lost employment. And the only threat of lawsuit here is from the fire department, but that's pretty far fetched. Penalized or fined, maybe, but not enough to lose a house. You're just being ridiculous.
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capaxinfiniti
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
quote:
Why should MY money go to provide services to YOU when YOU aren't willing to help pay for it, when I have no legal obligation to do so.
This has been asked and answered: Because you have a moral obligation to do so. Also, as I've pointed out before, the majority of the cost of operating a fire department is having the equipment available, not actually fighting the fire. And given that the grass fire was burning for 2 hours before it reached the house, firefighters didn't need to endanger themselves by fighting a house fire.
(i wont quote the rest of your post but i will address most of it)

first, thats not a valid answer/argument because there is no proof that any such moral obligation exist. unless of course you want to claim one originates from a divine source. its absurd to hold Person A responsible for Person B's wellbeing if or because person B doesnt care enough to take care of his/herself.

and it appears you are underestimating the cost of even a voluntary fire department. a portion of the cost of operating a fire department its having the equipment available but there are other significant costs as well: the resources (water, retardant, location, fuel, equipment, classroom teaching materials) needed to train the firefighters, the locations and means necessary to store, maintain and repair the equipment, the basic infrastructure and communications of the emergency response services (911 dispatchers, equipment, licensees, software, training). then, in addition to all those costs (lets ignore the actual time of the volunteers, in training and on calls, which has a cost/value to the city but isnt as readily identified), there is the cost of fuel, fire suppression materials and wear-and-tear on the equipment, as you indicated.

whats more, volunteers do not work shifts or reside at the firehouse. it takes time to mobilize and equip a crew in addition to the travel time to the fire, which is likely significant if theyre leaving the city proper, traveling on surface streets and back roads.

its likely the lawn catching fire didnt constitute a 'grass' fire. the term as its used in county laws and ordinances probably refers to a brushfire or open land wildfire. in addition, a burning shed most definitely constitutes a structure fire which means the volunteer fire department would have been alerted, not the Obion County Volunteer Rescue Squad.

must the volunteer firefighters be required to call all the insurance claims adjusters, accountants, lawyers, and city officials and administrators necessary to find out if the homeowner can even pay 'whatever' it costs to fight the fire? as others have said, the firefighters arent there to make financial transactions. yes, a municipality does have ways of collecting a debt, but the homeowner could and likely does have obligations and debts with other entities besides the municipality. when the fire is burning isnt the time to address such matters.

if, ten months ago, the homeowner 'forgot' to pay, which he may well have, for the firefighting services, thats a very unfortunate mistake, but if i forget to check my blind spot and smash into another car on the freeway, that too is a very unfortunate mistake but forgetting my own obligations and duties doenst absolve me of the consequences of my negligence.

please excuse the length of the post and the reiteration of arguments already made but their is much regarding this circumstance that is being ignored or unduly simplified.

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Kwea
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quote:
Originally posted by Glenn Arnold:
quote:
I don't think I will trust your judgement on how dangerous it could have become, as you weren't there, and I have no idea about your training in the subject.
As I've said several times, the situation was different at different times as these events played out. When he called 911, there was no one on the scene, and the decision not to send trucks allowed the fire to reach the neighbor's property.

It's not a matter of my judgement. Fires do spread and can get out of control, easily. A 911 operator is not in a position to decide whether the fire is a threat to adjacent properties, but from what I know of 911, it is illegal to fail to respond, for exactly that reason. Even when it is clear that the phone call is a child pulling a prank the operators in my area always send a response appropriate to the stated threat.

As to my training on the subject, I often list "pyromaniac" as my former job. I was, in fact, in combustion research for 9 years.

quote:
You CAN fire a volunteer, easily. And getting sued is no joking matter. You could lose your house, your car, your savings.....all because someone decided to sue you after the fact.
Bull. You can ask a volunteer not to return. That's not firing someone, as they haven't lost employment. And the only threat of lawsuit here is from the fire department, but that's pretty far fetched. Penalized or fined, maybe, but not enough to lose a house. You're just being ridiculous.

No, I am not. As someone who has actually been in the field, and who knows many, many volunteer firefighters, I'd say I have a very good basis for making this decision. You may choose to disagree, but that doesn't mean my opinion is invalid. In fact, it's probably several time better than yours.

He could be sued by the people who's resources were damaged, the people who paid for the service. He would be sued for any water damage or any damage he failed to prevent, because any contract signed under those conditions would fail in court for the simple reason that it would be considered signed "under duress". If he was a Cpt. and ordered his men in, and one got injured, they could sue him for giving an illegal order. If one died, he could be sued for wrongful death, as they were not allowed to be in there by law. If equipment failed or was damaged, the fire companies insurance would refuse to pay to fix or replace it, as it wasn't being used in a legal manner.

Those are off the top of my head. Let me know which of those are bull, or ridiculous. Particularly since I know several of those that have actually happened.

Firefighters, even volunteer ones, are sometimes compensated slightly. Many so-called volunteer companies, are made up of paid firefighters and unpaid ones. Many of them are getting experience in the field, waiting until a paid position comes up.

Trust me.....it's still getting fired, and it reflects poorly on them, and can be a factor when applying for a full time position.


Glen, it IS possible to disagree without being insulting. I don't see anyone here saying the guy deserved to lose his house. I don't see anyone here in this thread, myself included, who thinks this type of fire service is anything other than a poor substitute for a taxed based fire company.

I am sick of seeing fire companies lose funding every time a budget crunch comes along. I am tired of seeing firehouses shut down across towns because politicians say firefighters are "overpaid" and they have a "surplus" of them. I hate it when people who have no clue how expensive it is to run a pump truck claim that they know best how to deploy them, and when morons (no one here, just some politicians in my town) interfere with safely deploying fire companies.

I bet those firefighters felt horrible, but I still say it wasn't their fault they were placed in that position. I also don't think they were stupid, or morally wrong, to do what they did.


YMMV, though.

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DDDaysh
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This whole situation makes me sick, but I'm most angry with the homeowner. I don't know how he could claim he just "forgot" when he was clearly reported as saying that he thought they department would come even if he hadn't paid. It means he's put some thoughts into not paying. I'm not saying I don't feel bad that he lost his house, but I do feel bad that he seems to be dragging the fire company through the mud over it. They shouldn't be made to feel guilty because he didn't do what he was supposed to do.

I live in an area that is only served by a volunteer fire departments. Many of my relations are volunteer fire fighters here (and others are professional fire fighters in a city about an hour away). Even though our fire department is volunteer only, there are still expenses. There have to be trucks, pumps, hydrants, alarms, radios, etc. Because I live within the city limits, these are paid for by taxes. Some of the rural areas near us have organized themselves into a sort of unincorporated township for the purposes of services like Fire, EMS, Water, etc. They are also authorized to collect taxes on a limited basis, and so "tax" to pay for this service. However, people who live in the rural area but are not part of one of the townships basically have to go without fire coverage. I don't think there's even an "opt in" option. They're just not part of our coverage area, and that's that.

I'm not sure why we have a government that has decided fire services are a city, not county problem. After all, everyone lives in a county (or parish) but not everyone lives in a city. I suspect, however, that money is part of the issue. Covering large amounts of rural area is expensive. Is it really fair to tax someone for a service they'll never really be able to use? Even here, where some of our rural areas have coverage, some people complain about paying for it. Because our fire-fighters are volunteer, they aren't all at the firehouse to be called out at a moments notice. They have to drive to the fire house, get the engine, and then drive up to 30 miles on country roads in some cases. A response time of over an hour is not unheard of or even unreasonable in some of the more distant locations. It's not unfathomable to understand why people don't think it's a service worth paying for.

Also, while you may not be able to fire a volunteer, you can sue them, either as an individual or the entire fire department. If they had somehow damaged this man's property while fighting the fire, he could have easily sued them. And, as others have mentioned, there is no way their insurance would have covered any damage to firefighters or equipment if it happened while they were fighting a fire that was clearly out of their jurisdiction. It may be sad and tragic, but it is reality.

I also didn't read anywhere that the neighbors house actually burned. The articles I read made it sound like the fire was controlled before it got to the neighboring property.

Our "city" (really a town of about 2000 people) has gone without Police services several times in the past due to budget problems. We simply could not afford any officers worth having. Luckily, law enforcement is a sort of "double coverage" game (at least in Texas). There is a Sheriff's office that is paid for with county dollars, and they do provide a limited number of emergency services. However, because they cover the whole county, their response times can be quite slow. They also don't control city traffic or do a variety of other things that city cops do, so having a city Police is still important. Yet, there are times when our city just hasn't been able to afford them, so we go without. Even now, when we do have police coverage, we only have it during the day. We don't have an officer on duty at night at all. It's just the way the world is.

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