Over at MSNBC, coverage of some disgusting behavior by some disgusting individuals masquerading as “first responders”:

Cranick, who lives outside the city limits, admits he “forgot” to pay the annual $75 fee. The county does not have a county-wide firefighting service, but South Fulton offers fire coverage to rural residents for a fee.

Cranick says he told the operator he would pay whatever is necessary to have the fire put out.

His offer wasn’t accepted, he said.

“They put water out on the fence line out here. They never said nothing to me. Never acknowledged. They stood out here and watched it burn,” Cranick said.

South Fulton’s mayor said that the fire department can’t let homeowners pay the fee on the spot, because the only people who would pay would be those whose homes are on fire.

As we’ve discussed earlier, the problem with people buying in “only when needed” on certain items like health insurance is ongoing. Will proposes a graduated-coverage solution for “previously existing conditions”, wherein people are given incentive to have continuing coverage.

This isn’t quite the same, but at the same time, it’s a point where the behavior of certain entities – hospitals, police, firefighters, certain mayors – goes beyond what I think any sane human would consider reasonable. Was Mr. Cranick un-covered for the year? Yes. Could the firefighters have come out, put the fire out, and then assessed a reasonable fee – at 20x the $75 fee it’s only $1500 to save his irreplaceable family items and pets? Absolutely.

Instead, the firefighters – apparently by order of their chief, if not the mayor – actually stood by and did nothing while a man’s entire life and family pets burned to ashes.

I don’t really have much else to say on it. I’m at a loss for words as to how not a single firefighter would say “hold the phone, put the fire out, figure out the money crap later.” It goes against any code of ethics I’ve ever seen, and it strikes me that whoever made this decision and held the firefighters to it probably should go up on animal cruelty charges as well; they had every ability to save the lives of the family pets, but deliberately decided not to do so, for whatever reason.

My faith in human nature just took another dent.


Category: Statehouse

About the Author

Guy Webster (web) is an IT specialist at Southern Tech University, where he and Will Truman attended college.

7 Responses to Where Things Go Wrong

  1. trumwill says:

    I think that TL’s solution (if we’re not going to go the basic tax-route) is probably the best. Charge a significant fee and put a lien on the house to make sure it gets paid. You can still have a significant free-rider problem, though.

    People can make the calculated determination that the number of times they will need the fire department over 20 years is less than one in which case they’re better off never paying until something happens. Then, if less than 1 in 20 houses needs use of the fire department, the department is facing a budget deficit due to extremely high fixed costs.

    Or you raise prices all around in which case you may be looking at a whole lot more than $1500.

    The most obvious solution to this is for the man to pay his fire bill. But how do you get someone to pay for a service that it’s in everyone’s interest to pay so that they don’t find themselves in the situation that Craddick is in? Well, you either make it mandatory as PPACA did with health insurance or you simply make it a tax.

    Most places, of course, go with the tax model. It’s harder for rural places, though. The tiny suburb I was raised (East Oak) in simply contracted out fire services to a neighboring town (Larkhill), paying them a significant amount of money in return for the Larkhill Fire Department responding to their calls.

    However, if we made it an ethical obligation to put out fires to people that have not yet paid them because they’re outside their jurisdiction, East Oak can simply not contract it out and then cry bloody murder when Larkhill refuses to answer their calls and houses burn down. That doesn’t seem fair to Larkhill even if Larkhill does get to bill the resident or the city because they are forced to maintain capacity in the event that a fire does occur and that incurs costs.

  2. Peter says:

    whoever made this decision and held the firefighters to it probably should go up on animal cruelty charges as well

    Don’t let the firefighters off the hook. Even if their chief prohibited them from fighting the fire, they had a moral duty to ignore the orders. Sometimes orders have to be disobeyed.

  3. Mike Hunt says:

    Sorry, I disagree completely.

    It is called the free-rider dilemma for a reason.

    Next time don’t be a deadbeat.

  4. web says:

    Mike Hunt –

    so if you were standing there and had the chance to save someone’s life, but no legal obligation, you’d be perfectly fine just standing there laughing as they died?

    The answer is: the fire department had the capacity. They had the manpower on the ground. They chose to do the most antimoral thing they could do out of walking up and kicking the man in the balls personally: they stood there and laughed as his life burned down, complete with family pets, saying the precise same thing you are saying.

    I’m sorry, but that just doesn’t work. In any functioning, moral society at least, it cannot be allowed to happen.

    However, if we made it an ethical obligation to put out fires to people that have not yet paid them because they’re outside their jurisdiction

    Except that it was well within their operating zone and jurisdiction – given that the firefighters not only responded to the next-door neighbor’s call, but actively contained the fire only to Cranick’s yard, “stopping” the fire on the boundaries of the property line.

    It takes a pretty sick asshole to do something like that when the man is standing there begging you to help, offering to pay whatever is necessary in fees to get it done.

  5. Mike Hunt says:

    so if you were standing there and had the chance to save someone’s life, but no legal obligation, you’d be perfectly fine just standing there laughing as they died?

    I would act to save their lives, because I do not sell life-saving insurance.

    For insurance to work, there has to be some sort of penalty for people who don’t buy. Also, I find it very hard to believe that he “forgot” to pay his insurance; I think he made a bet, and in this instance, the roulette ball landed on green.

    In this case, I don’t think anyone LITERALLY died, and I don’t think the firemen were LITERALLY laughing as the house burned down. Therefore, your comments are hyperbole.

  6. web says:

    Four family pets died.

    If someone deliberately had burned them alive they’d be up on animal cruelty charges.

    Why should this be any different for those firefighters who stood by and let them burn over $75?

  7. Mike Hunt says:

    Why should this be any different for those firefighters who stood by and let them burn over $75?

    Umm, because they didn’t set the fire.

    Your brand of logic shows why you are a public employee.

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