A Tennessee couple helplessly watched their home burn to the ground, along with all of their possessions, on Monday, because they did not pay a $75 annual fee to the local fire department. As the mobile home burned, firefighters stood by and watched.
MSNBC reported the homeowner, Vicky Bell, said,
“You could look out my mom’s trailer and see the trucks sitting at a distance. We just wished we could’ve gotten more out.”
Same Time Next Year
As Care2′s Jessica Pieklo wrote here, this scenario happened last year, in precisely the same county, when a resident watched his home burn, as firefighters looked on and did nothing.
How is this possible? The ongoing controversy surrounds a $75 fire protection fee that is set for rural residents in Obion County, Tennessee. If residents don’t pay then, no matter what, they don’t get fire services.
Firefighters are ordered to not intervene based on the “Pay for Spray” policy the city of South Fulton has in place. Under this program, homeowners that reside outside city limits and do not have a local fire department can be protected under South Fulton’s department. However a $75 fee is required; it is likened to an insurance fee.
Government Bureaucracy At Its Insensitive Worst
This is government bureaucracy at its worst. Who could possibly invent a scenario where firefighters are summoned to a burning building, only to stand idly by and watch the structure turn to ashes?
From Yahoo News:
South Fulton Mayor David Crocker defended the fire department, saying that if firefighters responded to non-subscribers, no one would have an incentive to pay the fee. Residents in the city of South Fulton receive the service automatically, but it is not extended to those living in the greater county-wide area.
“There’s no way to go to every fire and keep up the manpower, the equipment, and just the funding for the fire department,” Crocker said.
Sufficient Funds To Get To The Fire, But Not To Extinguish It?
But wait – those firefighters did in fact go to the fire, so apparently the city had sufficient funds to send them, but not enough for them to extinguish a small fire?
Merry Christmas, Mr. Crocker. You obviously have the holiday spirit.
I’ve seen this happen before, in an emergency room in Los Angeles where a young boy bleeding from the head was denied treatment because his dad couldn’t come up with the $300 the hospital was demanding.
What kind of world are we headed for, where citizens are denied basic services, where following the rules is more important than sharing our common humanity and taking care of each other?
Take Action Now!
If you feel that what happened was outrageous, please sign our petition telling Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire that he must not let this atrocity happen again.
Photo Credit: songglod
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