Is Fire Protection a Right or a Privilege?

FirefightingYou might have heard about this Tennessee couple lost their home as firefighters watched. John McQuaid asks in Forbes:

As tax revenues have fallen over the past three years of recession, and austerity became the default policy of local governments, the public sector has been steadily hemorrhaging employees and cutting back on services. This is kind of a shadow recession, its effects lagging behind the first and putting a drag on the recovery. Most of us get by on a patchwork of public and private services, with overlapping responsibilities: the fire department (paid for with tax revenues, usually) will put out the fire, while most homeowners have insurance to pay for the damages. These days, both the public and private ends of this arrangement are fraying badly, and gaps are opening up. As the story notes, this is the second time firefighters in South Fulton have let a house burn because the owner didn’t pay the $75 fee. (Seriously, if they insist on that $75, there ought to be some way to pay it on the spot. Equip every fire truck with a credit card scanner.)

But here’s the deeper problem. Look at Mayor Crocker’s rationale for letting homes burn: you pay, you get a service. Don’t pay, you get nothing. No free riders. This is straightforward and thus appealing. But it is also misguided: it puts abstract principle over the business of governing …

Read More: Forbes

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  • Anonymous

    it is a right, of decent society

  • Anonymous

    it is a right, of decent society

  • MoralDrift

    it is a right, of decent society

  • Heath

    a privilege? Your fucking kidding me right? 

    Out here in the stix we have a thing called “volunteer firemen” who in lue of pay choose to save your house out of common decency and a general sense of  community.

    You wanna charge me a fee on top of my tax revenue? How about you start lookin for a new job motherfucker, cause there are people around here that will do it because they “should”.

    yes I know firemen get payed nothing, ironically many of them are contractors who will gladly get payed to rebuild your house.

  • Heath

    a privilege? Your fucking kidding me right? 

    Out here in the stix we have a thing called “volunteer firemen” who in lue of pay choose to save your house out of common decency and a general sense of  community.

    You wanna charge me a fee on top of my tax revenue? How about you start lookin for a new job motherfucker, cause there are people around here that will do it because they “should”.

    yes I know firemen get payed nothing, ironically many of them are contractors who will gladly get payed to rebuild your house.

    • Anarchy Pony

      They saved my home just this summer, ‘cuase some moron decided that it would be a good idea to flick a still burning cigarette butt out their car window.

  • Anonymous

    That’s ridiculous and patently irresponsible. What happens when the wind picks up and scatters a whole properties worth of burning embers into everyone else’s yard? Even if that wasn’t an issue, a fire belching black smoke and staining everything around it won’t be cheap to clean. Ridiculous..

  • dumbsaint

    That’s ridiculous and patently irresponsible. What happens when the wind picks up and scatters a whole properties worth of burning embers into everyone else’s yard? Even if that wasn’t an issue, a fire belching black smoke and staining everything around it won’t be cheap to clean. Ridiculous..

  • guest

    i thought property and county taxes were supposed to cover that. I suppose if their neighbors pay the fee they are covered.  There are a lot of fucked up republicans in Tennessee, it is a “red” state.
    one of my friend’s house burned down recently, in Wilson county, and they just billed him for their services.  I guess it depends on what county you live in.

  • guest

    i thought property and county taxes were supposed to cover that. I suppose if their neighbors pay the fee they are covered.  There are a lot of fucked up republicans in Tennessee, it is a “red” state.
    one of my friend’s house burned down recently, in Wilson county, and they just billed him for their services.  I guess it depends on what county you live in.

    • guest2

      Property taxes ARE supposed to pay for Fire, Police…etc. All the county needs to do is change the millage rate, and raise property taxes. Oh, and i don’t think that the fact that Tn is a “red” state has anything to do with it. Govt. agencies are not “for profit” businesses.

      • BlanchDubois

        Property taxes are only assessed after the electorate agree to it. The property in question was outside of the fire district and therefore couldn’t be assessed. The service was available for a subscription fee that the owner decided not to pay. The cost of fighting a fire is very expensive and to pay $75 to the fire department when they turn out is laughable. There was a similar incident in Idaho a year or so ago where the fire department showed up and extinguished the fire and then sent the owner a bill for $15,000, the cost of fighting the fire, afterward. I can hear all of the bleeding hearts after that one bemoaning the fact that the fire department is greedy. It is the home owner’s responsibility to protect themselves and their families from such dangers. To callously dismiss the subscription fee, hoping that the FD will take pity when their home is on fire is a dangerous game and they lost their gamble. I feel sorry for them but they rolled the dice.

  • BGD

    As a firefighter it sickens me that people think about profit instead of doing the right thing in a situation like this

  • BGD

    As a firefighter it sickens me that people think about profit instead of doing the right thing in a situation like this

  • Redacted

    I’ve referenced the Bible, and it says fire is just God’s way of doing whatever the fuck it is that “God” wants to do. Therefore putting out fires is heresy, QED.

  • Suddenly Spam!

    I’ve referenced the Bible, and it says fire is just God’s way of doing whatever the fuck it is that “God” wants to do. Therefore putting out fires is heresy, QED.

  • Andrew

    Money is the only law.

  • Andrew

    Money is the only law.

  • Mysophobe

    From the article- “This is straightforward and thus appealing. But it is also misguided: it puts abstract principle over the business of governing. Lives and property are put in danger in exchange for the satisfactions of bean-counting and moralistic coercion.”
    These same thoughts occurred to me last night while watching the republican candidates argue over the individual health insurance mandate, as if it was the embodiment of the death of liberty in our time. In reality it’s just an argument over tax code terminology, and is no different than punishing people, through taxes, for not having kids or not buying a home. Talk about rugged individualism, personal responsibility, and absolute, unfettered freedom and liberty all you want, the reality is that it is in your best interests to help put out the fire at your neighbor’s house, literally and figuratively. Who cares if it’s a right or not, it’s the right thing to do.

    • Andrew

      Money is power.  Money is speech.  Money is freedom and liberty.  Money is principle and money is morality.  Money is responsibility.  Money is identity.  Money is individuality.  Money is opportunity.  Money is possibility.  Money is life.  Money is the measure.  Money is holy.  Money is the law.

      • Mysophobe

        I was daydreaming the other day, thinking abstractly about large scale things OWS could do to affect real change in our country while maintaining it’s identity. Everything I came up with ended in flames, requiring a big pile of cash to get off the ground. Money is the tailings of our hollowed out core. I wish I had some, *sigh*

      • Kane3013

        Scumbag Money.
        Can solve almost all the problems in the world,

        causes almost all the problems in the world.

  • Mysophobe

    From the article- “This is straightforward and thus appealing. But it is also misguided: it puts abstract principle over the business of governing. Lives and property are put in danger in exchange for the satisfactions of bean-counting and moralistic coercion.”
    These same thoughts occurred to me last night while watching the republican candidates argue over the individual health insurance mandate, as if it was the embodiment of the death of liberty in our time. In reality it’s just an argument over tax code terminology, and is no different than punishing people, through taxes, for not having kids or not buying a home. Talk about rugged individualism, personal responsibility, and absolute, unfettered freedom and liberty all you want, the reality is that it is in your best interests to help put out the fire at your neighbor’s house, literally and figuratively. Who cares if it’s a right or not, it’s the right thing to do.

  • guest2

    Property taxes ARE supposed to pay for Fire, Police…etc. All the county needs to do is change the millage rate, and raise property taxes. Oh, and i don’t think that the fact that Tn is a “red” state has anything to do with it. Govt. agencies are not “for profit” businesses.

  • Andrew

    Money is power.  Money is speech.  Money is freedom and liberty.  Money is principle and money is morality.  Money is responsibility.  Money is identity.  Money is individuality.  Money is opportunity.  Money is possibility.  Money is life.  Money is the measure.  Money is holy.  Money is the law.

  • Mysophobe

    I was daydreaming the other day, thinking abstractly about large scale things OWS could do to affect real change in our country while maintaining it’s identity. Everything I came up with ended in flames, requiring a big pile of cash to get off the ground. Money is the tailings of our hollowed out core. I wish I had some, *sigh*

  • Anarchy Pony

    They saved my home just this summer, ‘cuase some moron decided that it would be a good idea to flick a still burning cigarette butt out their car window.

  • Anarchy Pony

    They saved my home just this summer, ‘cuase some moron decided that it would be a good idea to flick a still burning cigarette butt out their car window.

  • ap-db

    Well, it’s about time Americans start to understand that the doctrine of “rugged individualism” comes with a price.  Not everything can or should be privatized or left up to the short-sighted whim of individuals (we see where that gets people); water, energy, roads, fire protection: these all serve everyone’s best interests.  Only way to truly fund them is by taxation.    So what happens when the fire spreads to other homes? Certain things work better when shared by everyone.  It’s childish to think otherwise.

  • ap-db

    Well, it’s about time Americans start to understand that the doctrine of “rugged individualism” comes with a price.  Not everything can or should be privatized or left up to the short-sighted whim of individuals (we see where that gets people); water, energy, roads, fire protection: these all serve everyone’s best interests.  Only way to truly fund them is by taxation.    So what happens when the fire spreads to other homes? Certain things work better when shared by everyone.  It’s childish to think otherwise.

  • BFD

    Its neither a right nor a privilege, it’s a responsibility of the fire department.  Who in this case, dropped the ball and deserve shame.

    • Responsibility

      Its the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure the safety of his property. If you read any of the articles regarding the fire in question, you’d know that the mobile home was located in an area outside of the fire district, the owners knew it and accepted the risk when the bought it and there was a prior incident less than a year ago in the same general vicinity. The articles quoted the owner as knowing all of this and not blaming the fire department. In addition, a mobile home burns to cinders in a matter of minutes and it is highly unlikely that any fire department could respond in time to have an impact.
      The fire department deserves your respect. The only ones deserving shame are those vilifying them.

      • Jin The Ninja

        thanks for that nonsensical post, go back to reading ‘shrugged’ and we’ll all be better for it.

  • BFD

    Its neither a right nor a privilege, it’s a responsibility of the fire department.  Who in this case, dropped the ball and deserve shame.

  • DeepCough

    There is nothing uncapitalist about SUPPLYing a local fire department with tax dollars so, when the time DEMANDs it, firefighters are just a little bit more inclined to address the problem of fire in their own locality.

  • DeepCough

    There is nothing uncapitalist about SUPPLYing a local fire department with tax dollars so, when the time DEMANDs it, firefighters are just a little bit more inclined to address the problem of fire in their own locality.

  • odjrsmitty

    In the old days neighbors helped each other with stuff like that. I guess that’s all over with now. Just another case of people wanting the govt. to run every aspect of their lives.

    • Mysophobe

      No no no, quite on the contrary. What you describe is what we’re heading back to at breakneck speed. Neighbors helping neighbors as long as they can afford their dues, otherwise fuck em. Private fire departments sitting by and watching houses that didn’t pay protection burn, just in case it spreads to the house of a paying customer. As far as your wonderful idea of neighbor helping neighbor goes, I have an idea. We should all pool our money together in our neighborhoods and buy firehouses and engines and hire crews or train volunteers to run them. Wait, what? We already have that? Never mind.

  • odjrsmitty

    In the old days neighbors helped each other with stuff like that. I guess that’s all over with now. Just another case of people wanting the govt. to run every aspect of their lives.

  • spet67

    Strictly speaking, it’s a privilege and you need to pay for it.  But, having said that, it’s a hard man that would stand there and watch another person’s home burn.  IMO, they should have done it as a charity case.  Alternatively, they could have just fought the fire and made arrangements for later payment. 

  • Anonymous

    Strictly speaking, it’s a privilege and you need to pay for it.  But, having said that, it’s a hard man that would stand there and watch another person’s home burn.  IMO, they should have done it as a charity case.  Alternatively, they could have just fought the fire and made arrangements for later payment. 

  • Hadrian999

    in the new teaparty world everything is a privileged reserved for those who can pay

  • Hadrian999

    in the new teaparty world everything is a privileged reserved for those who can pay

  • Mysophobe

    No no no, quite on the contrary. What you describe is what we’re heading back to at breakneck speed. Neighbors helping neighbors as long as they can afford their dues, otherwise fuck em. Private fire departments sitting by and watching houses that didn’t pay protection burn, just in case it spreads to the house of a paying customer. As far as your wonderful idea of neighbor helping neighbor goes, I have an idea. We should all pool our money together in our neighborhoods and buy firehouses and engines and hire crews or train volunteers to run them. Wait, what? We already have that? Never mind.

  • Mysophobe

    Seems like the current system is set up pretty well. If you live in or do business in a permanent structure, you contribute to the costs of fire protection. There are literally no “freeloaders”, aside from pyromaniacs and tax evaders. I get that some people are hung up on the “forced” or “confiscatory” aspect of it, but that’s not entirely accurate. You don’t want to pay property taxes? Don’t own or rent property, live in your car or on the street. You don’t want to pay income taxes? Don’t work, rely on charity. Don’t like sales tax? Don’t buy stuff. No one is forcing you to participate in these pay-to-play aspects of society, and nowhere in the Constitution does it guarantee to you the right to shelter, a job, consumer products or prosperity in general. It certainly doesn’t guarantee you these things free of fees and taxes. Want to make transactions using treasury notes owned by the US government? There’s a user’s fee.

  • Mysophobe

    Seems like the current system is set up pretty well. If you live in or do business in a permanent structure, you contribute to the costs of fire protection. There are literally no “freeloaders”, aside from pyromaniacs and tax evaders. I get that some people are hung up on the “forced” or “confiscatory” aspect of it, but that’s not entirely accurate. You don’t want to pay property taxes? Don’t own or rent property, live in your car or on the street. You don’t want to pay income taxes? Don’t work, rely on charity. Don’t like sales tax? Don’t buy stuff. No one is forcing you to participate in these pay-to-play aspects of society, and nowhere in the Constitution does it guarantee to you the right to shelter, a job, consumer products or prosperity in general. It certainly doesn’t guarantee you these things free of fees and taxes. Want to make transactions using treasury notes owned by the US government? There’s a user’s fee.

  • housemouse

    How very small minded. If the county were to fine non-payers $75 AFTER they extinguished the fire, they could increase their revenue by 100% and the poor homeowner could keep their house for only $150, which sounds like a bargain to me. By making people homeless, the ‘authorities’ are only placing a bigger burden on an already strained public system. Mayor Crocker is publicly displaying his lack of intelligence.

  • housemouse

    How very small minded. If the county were to fine non-payers $75 AFTER they extinguished the fire, they could increase their revenue by 100% and the poor homeowner could keep their house for only $150, which sounds like a bargain to me. By making people homeless, the ‘authorities’ are only placing a bigger burden on an already strained public system. Mayor Crocker is publicly displaying his lack of intelligence.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iam-Skycake/100001620503494 Iam Skycake

    This is a pointless article.  Anyone that’s ever lived in the country knows that rural volunteer fire departments are member driven.  It’s insurance – not a fee for fighting a fire in progress.   

    Do you think you could pay for insurance on your car after you’ve crashed it ? 

    C’mon disinfo – stop making mountains out of molehills.  It makes you look petty and uneducated. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Iam-Skycake/100001620503494 Iam Skycake

    This is a pointless article.  Anyone that’s ever lived in the country knows that rural volunteer fire departments are member driven.  It’s insurance – not a fee for fighting a fire in progress.   

    Do you think you could pay for insurance on your car after you’ve crashed it ? 

    C’mon disinfo – stop making mountains out of molehills.  It makes you look petty and uneducated. 

  • Kane3013

    Scumbag Money.
    Can solve almost all the problems in the world,

    causes almost all the problems in the world.

  • rtb61

    The real question here, is the existence of a for profit fire brigade blocking the creation of a volunteer fire brigade who would put out all fires. Is this a protection racket, how many non-paying properties have caught on fire versus paying properties, pay the fee or else. Of course how is this different from health insurance, pay nothing and they’ll watch you die, pay a bit and they’ll watch you die when it runs out, pay a whole lot and you might survive.
    Really this is what you would expect from a psychopathic society. Fall down on the street break a leg and everyone walks past unless you can pay them to stop, drowning no rescue without payment, there are plenty of other potentials for profit.
    How many other times have people reached out a hand to save some ones life for free, shouldn’t the rescuer be able to demand fifty percent of the person’s assets prior to reaching out, pay or die it’s the American way.

  • Anonymous

    The real question here, is the existence of a for profit fire brigade blocking the creation of a volunteer fire brigade who would put out all fires. Is this a protection racket, how many non-paying properties have caught on fire versus paying properties, pay the fee or else. Of course how is this different from health insurance, pay nothing and they’ll watch you die, pay a bit and they’ll watch you die when it runs out, pay a whole lot and you might survive.
    Really this is what you would expect from a psychopathic society. Fall down on the street break a leg and everyone walks past unless you can pay them to stop, drowning no rescue without payment, there are plenty of other potentials for profit.
    How many other times have people reached out a hand to save some ones life for free, shouldn’t the rescuer be able to demand fifty percent of the person’s assets prior to reaching out, pay or die it’s the American way.

  • Responsibility

    Its the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure the safety of his property. If you read any of the articles regarding the fire in question, you’d know that the mobile home was located in an area outside of the fire district, the owners knew it and accepted the risk when the bought it and there was a prior incident less than a year ago in the same general vicinity. The articles quoted the owner as knowing all of this and not blaming the fire department. In addition, a mobile home burns to cinders in a matter of minutes and it is highly unlikely that any fire department could respond in time to have an impact.
    The fire department deserves your respect. The only ones deserving shame are those vilifying them.

  • BlanchDubois

    Property taxes are only assessed after the electorate agree to it. The property in question was outside of the fire district and therefore couldn’t be assessed. The service was available for a subscription fee that the owner decided not to pay. The cost of fighting a fire is very expensive and to pay $75 to the fire department when they turn out is laughable. There was a similar incident in Idaho a year or so ago where the fire department showed up and extinguished the fire and then sent the owner a bill for $15,000, the cost of fighting the fire, afterward. I can hear all of the bleeding hearts after that one bemoaning the fact that the fire department is greedy. It is the home owner’s responsibility to protect themselves and their families from such dangers. To callously dismiss the subscription fee, hoping that the FD will take pity when their home is on fire is a dangerous game and they lost their gamble. I feel sorry for them but they rolled the dice.

  • Jin (仁)

    thanks for that nonsensical post, go back to reading ‘shrugged’ and we’ll all be better for it.

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