Firefighters Watch Home Burn And Do Nothing – Again

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.

Related Stories

Homeowner’s House Burns As Firefighters Watch, All Because He Didn’t Pay A Fee

New Bill Allows Military To Detain You Indefinitely

Senate Forces Women In The Military To Carry Rapists’ Babies

Photo Credit: songglod


Voice Reason
VoiceOf Reason5 years ago

I agree with Mike S. But that's not all. What I really hate is these people who won't take responsibility for ther own actions (or inactions as the case may be). They don't pay the required $75 for fire protection, they know the possible consequences, and you can bet they didn't buy fire insurance either, and then they have the temerity to scream "poor me!" when they lose everything. The people in that county are lucky! They at least have an option. How about those who do not?

I once lived in an area which only had a small volunteer fire department. We funded the equipment for that department (gasoline, maintenance) by holding an annual BBQ. The beef was donated by one of several large corporations, the rest (labor, fixins) was all donated by the community. Almost everyone donated something... and nobody kept track of those who didn't. This was in an area of a large state subject to wildfires. Our community was also in an area protected by the state forestry service. The forestry service did not provide home protection. It was their "policy" (rules of the forestry service) to protect only the area belonging to the forestry service... if you happened to have a home there, they could/WOULD do nothing except the keep the fire from spreading. That did NOT include putting out a house fire. I lived there when there was a wildfire that spread all across the southern end of the state. The wildfire went through our canyon community three times, forward, backward,

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

Totally against a firefighter's code of conduct. These "fire-watchers" should be stripped of their positions as paid public servants and criminalized for giving firefighters a bad reputation.

Andrew D.
Andrew D.6 years ago

This is no different than paying Mob protection money in my eyes. Where is the humanity and common decency? I'm not a Firefighter or a First Responder, but have witnessed accidents and fires first hand, I responded, resulting in the saving of lives, only then to slink away in the shadows and confusion. Its NOT about recognition. It's NOT about money. It's about doing the right thing for the right reasons. People need to grow phuckin backbones and Hang the rules when they contradict Humanity.

Sarah Metcalf
Sarah M6 years ago


Lin Moy
Lin M6 years ago

The worst thing isn't paying the fee.

Mandi A.
Amanda A6 years ago


Catrina Hamilton
Catrina Hamilton6 years ago

Absolutely disgusting.

Patrick F.
Patrick f6 years ago

Mayor David Crocker should be tried and convicted of extortion. The firefighters should be heroes,not the mayor's henchmen. Too many government officials get their education from the mob.

Ellen Mccoy
Ellen Mccoy6 years ago

It's a good thing she wasn't handicapped and in a wheelchair. Would they have let her burn to death? Shame on the Mayor.

Christine Stewart
Christine S6 years ago

The firefighters need to poll each person in their town you have 3 options- pay the $75, call your homeowners' insurance and pledge that they will pay the ENTIRE cost of fighting the fire because you don't want to pay $75, or agree that the firefighters will not save your home because you're too cheap to pay $75 and your insurance company refuses to pay as well...