Tenn. Firefighters Watch Home Burn For Want of $75 Fee; National Review Applauds

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

I’m not sure which story is worse. Under South Fulton, Tennessee’s, “Pay For Spray” program,  rural property owners won’t receive fire fighting service unless they have the foresight to pay a $75.00 fee. In September, 2010, the city was lambasted when a home was allowed to burn because the homeowner hadn’t paid it. Now just over a year later the same thing happened again as firefighters watched helplessly when city officials refused to let them fight the fire of Vicky Bell. Bell isn’t eligible for the service because she can’t afford homeowner’s insurance.

To add to her misery, National Review Online deputy managing editor, Kevin D. Williamson, thinks that’s just peachy keen. Writing after the first incident in 2010 and from the security of a city that wouldn’t stoop to this fiscal insanity and downright inhumanity , the former employee of the Institute for Humane Studies opines:

And, for their trouble, the South Fulton fire department is being treated as though it has done something wrong, rather than having gone out of its way to make services available to people who did not have them before. The world is full of jerks, freeloaders, and ingrates — and the problems they create for themselves are their own. These free-riders have no more right to South Fulton’s firefighting services than people in Muleshoe, Texas, have to those of NYPD detectives.

Williamson, you see, apparently thinks government is a business. And its citizens? Why they ‘re just “customers” who enjoy no benefits except by virtue of their payments. No sense of shared responsibility, no sense of community banding together in a social contract to “promote the general welfare,” and certainly no sense of a collective march forward against the troubles that beset us all. Nope, just fee for service.

It’s a disturbing trend in our national consciousness when citizens become mere customers. Instead, of public servants dedicated to the welfare of all and funded by the taxes of all who can pay, we now have proprietors who precondition their public duties on remuneration and not public spirit.

One wonders about the conscience of those like Williamson who would accept a catastrophe being suffered against someone like Vicky Bell.”We have no idea where we will go from here,” said Bell. “We are very lucky it was minutes from getting us.” If it wasn’t for the couple’s cat, they might not have woken up. He was shaking Brian’s leg and Brian yelled at me to get up,” said Bell. “We don’t know where the cat is now.”

At City Hall , this recent incident is already causing a stir. The city issued a press release saying the policy has been in place since 1990. It was reviewed in 2007, but not changed. If the property owner does not pay, then the fire department will not respond. According to the city, everyone should be aware of the importance of fire protection.

I wonder, indeed, what those city officials, fireman on the scene, and maybe even Williamson would have thought if Vicky and her family were trapped by the flames when help arrived. Would they have made her search her home amid the smoke to come up with the $75.00 fee before extending a hand to save her?

I think I know. If they have any conscience at all, they’d be worried another fire strewn location where eternal admission is free for those who deserve it.

Source: Digital Journal; NRO

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

49 thoughts on “Tenn. Firefighters Watch Home Burn For Want of $75 Fee; National Review Applauds”

  1. Here’s a novel idea:put out the fire and then bill the poor woman $75.00. Of course Tenn. could institute a state income tax like most other states and actually provide services considered basic in most modern societies.

    As to Blouise’s point, not a lot of Bible readin’ in the Bible Belt it seems. As to anon’s point … er … he doesn’t like me calling a heartless and foolish policy what it is.OK.

    I hope Ms. Bell qualifies for relief and moves to S. Fulton to receive every benefit to which she is entitled from those niggardly bastards. I hope she then sues the town fathers for negligence in gratuitously undertaking a duty which they had no legal duty to undertake, the moral one notwithstanding, but which they did so incompetently and thus dissuaded others who were inclined to help in suppressing the fire but hesitated because they quite properly assumed that the firefighters were there to actually fight the fire.

    ”One who assumes to act, even though gratuitously, may thereby become subject to the duty of acting carefully.” Biscan v. Brown, 160 S.W.3d 462, 482-83 (Tenn. 2005)

    Boy, would I like that case in front of a jury.

  2. Frankly,

    Interesting. I did not know some of those details. The most shocking detail of all is that no one from ChoicePoint went to jail for tampering with a Federal election by intimidation. That’s a felony under 18 U.S.C. § 594.

    18 U.S.C. § 594 : US Code – Section 594: Intimidation of voters
    Search by Keyword or Citation

    Whoever intimidates, threatens, coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, Presidential elector, Member of the Senate, Member of the House of Representatives, Delegate from the District of
    Columbia, or Resident Commissioner, at any election held solely or in part for the purpose of electing such candidate, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.


    Telling people they’ll be arrested for attempted to vote is most certainly intimidation.

  3. Mom – the reason Gore did not carry TN in 2000 was some exceptionally clever voter suppression done well in advance of election day. First wasthey made registration more difficult. Next they hired a company to use lists of felons that were combed for names that “sounded black” (according to testimony taken from the same operation in Florida) & then sending letters to everyone with the same or nearly the same name telling them they were might be arrested if they tried to vote. They also went out of their way to ensure a lot of false positive hits. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Central_Voter_File

    There were robo-calls misdirecting poor and black voters to the wrong polling places. Then there were poll watchers sent to poor precincts to challenge as many voters as they could.

    They did these things in several states but none as successfully as in FL and TN were Gore ended up with totals significantly lower than polling suggested he should have gotten. Had he won TN, which he nearly did, FL would not have mattered.

    These matters were all investigate (primarily in FL) but nobody has gone to jail & of course the librule media has been kind enough to never mention it again.

  4. ekeyra,
    I have no problem if the city wants to tie insurance into the fire department, but they have to have a mechanism to protect the owners who can’t get insurance.

  5. Hmmm so beaurcrats devised a rule that to be elligable for fire service one needs homeowners insurance, and instead of waiving that rule for people who do not or cannot get homeowners insurance, they simply watch houses burn.

    Obviously the free market is to blame.

  6. anon,
    I doubt that the insurance company would pay the fire department directly, unless their is an agreement with insurance companies in that area to collect the fee along with their premium and that type of arrangement would worry me.
    I agree that the issue is not cutbacks here. It is the same right wing fervor for privatizing everything taken in a new direction.

  7. In 2000 the republicans said that Al Gore did not carry his own state, Tennessee.

  8. Blouise, brilliant snark.

    Of course all Tennesseans have read the parable of the Good Samaritan and have taken it to heart. While the Bible does not mention it, the folks of South Fulton must be certain the injured traveler had paid his annual fee to the Samaritan or he would not have stopped to help.

  9. I take your point, Mark, (No sense of shared responsibility, no sense of community banding together in a social contract to “promote the general welfare,”) and agree with it.

    There was no sense of community or shared responsibility and no social contract promoting the general welfare present, thus human misery and suffering went unabated.

    Surely this part of Tenn. is run by atheists for God-fearing people would never allow such tragedies to endure for lack of a few dollars.

  10. “codswallop.”

    How William F. Buckley of you.

    “And I think you can do better and you deserve to do better, and we even need you to do better and that when you don’t it’s cheap malodorous condescending patronizing privileged blind sentimental horseshit.”

    This is really the level of your critiques, which mostly don’t argue, but use name calling, characterization and universal statements with no backup. For instance feminists calling “Baby It’s Cold Outside” a “Christmas Date Rape Song”.

    I rest my case. I’m going swimming.

  11. Anon’s comment:
    “States, counties and cities all over are cutting back on services. “We can no longer afford to keep the pools open, to keep the state parks open, to provide four Level One trauma centers in the metro area, ….” These are three examples from the shithole I live in.”

    My comment in reply:
    “No, this is a question of human decency. It is also a question of unfair taxation that leads to municipalities cutting back on services because certain well-off people have paid a lot of money to convince the public that taxation is bad and that we are NOT all in this together.”

    Anon then stated:

    “Mike, your shouting to blame the 1% rich of South Fulton seems to miss the point.”

    You see clearly that my statement was a universal reply to your universal statement. It obviously had nothing to do with South Fulton’s economic
    demographics. You are clearly misconstruing and conflating my words. When I see a story like this my tendency is to put it into a larger context and this has been quite consistent in my commenting here. Any way you slice it this is a sad story. To merely give perspective on the sadness of the story alone, without examining it from a broader perspective would be “trivial” to use the word you blithely throw around. As I see it this blog is about presenting concrete issues, or incidents and then examining their broader implications. If that is not the case, our commenting would be of the
    “isn’t that terrible”, “what a pity” or “they deserved it” variety and this blog would be little more than an expanded Twitter.

  12. When insanity meets reality government is usually at that juncture. Shame comes in many forms, this story exemplifies one format of government policy gone wrong. Do you want to read about dozens more, review Demons of Democracy.

  13. “You constantly use disparaging words in your critique, or is it that you think calling someones beliefs “bullshit” is merely mild constructive criticism.”

    “The language you use is highly, disparagingly personal though and frankly comes across as angry.”


    How many times have you accused me of all sorts of misrepresentations, “I am a Republican, I am a Tea Bagger, I am paid, I am … ” all because I disagree with you?

    See, I can say it more simply, many of your pieces are bullshit.

    I don’t have to misrepresent you.

    I can honestly characterize your pieces as rote, hackneyed, partisan codswallop.

    And I can tell you the damage they bring: the demonize and dehumanize others, and trivialize their points of view, shutting down dialogue and conversation, and preventing us from learning how they feel, or understanding actual real issues in either our positions or how we present them.

    But when I say that, I am, to you partisan hack judgmental privileged jackasses, likely a Republican Troll.

    So yeah, I have a nasty disdain for the trivial, thoughtless, dim, robotic, hackneyed, rote.

    And I think you can do better and you deserve to do better, and we even need you to do better and that when you don’t it’s cheap malodorous condescending patronizing privileged blind sentimental horseshit.

  14. South Fulton, TN, has 2,500 people with a median income of $27,000.

    It’s county, Obion County, has 32,000 people with a median income of $33,000.

    Its largest city, Union City, has a median income of $29,000.

    It almost seems likely that on average, county residents are in a better position to pay for services than city residents. (How many county residents are city residents, I don’t know.)

    For comparison, the median income of Phoenix, with its 1.3 million dumbasses, is $41,000, and the median income of Philadelphia, with it’s 1.5 million Brotherly Lovians, is $36,000.

  15. “I have a nasty disdain for the “rivial, thoughtless, dim, robotic, hackneyed, rote”.


    Which overwhelmingly has been your criticism of mine and most other guest blogs. You stated as much within the past month regarding the guest blogging here. My option for you is to write something and to let us:
    “[T}rivial, thoughtless, dim, robotic, hackneyed, rote”. guest bloggers learn from your expertise. You constantly use disparaging words in your critique, or is it that you think calling someones beliefs “bullshit” is merely mild constructive criticism.

    In many ways I personally am my own worst critic, so your criticism doesn’t affect me at all, when it’s not personnel, in fact if it’s valid I probably would agree with it.. The language you use is highly, disparagingly personal though and frankly comes across as angry. Now you can say with validity that I vent anger many times in my comments and my blogs, but that anger is directed at those far more powerful than I and so is literally attempting to speak truth to power. Have I responded with withering commentary to some
    commenter’s here, absolutely, but always in retort for disparaging personal commentary, rather than a disagreement of ideas.

  16. I find this interesting, ymmv.

    The population density [of the City of South Fulton] was 814.4 people per square mile

    Compare to:

    Phoenix: the city has a low density rate of about 2,785 people per square mile due to 1/3rd of its land area being undeveloped desert.

    Philadelphia has approximately 1.5 million people in a land area of 127 square miles (330 km2), giving it a high density rate of over 11,000 people per square mile.

  17. “Your nasty disdain for the Guest Bloggers here apparently is not limited to me.

    Mike, I protest! This is totally false. I do not have a nasty disdain for the guest bloggers, or for any of the individuals who post here either as bloggers or commenters.

    I have a nasty disdain for the “trivial, thoughtless, dim, robotic, hackneyed, rote”.”

    I knew I’d heard this before:

    Nilz Baris: Captain Kirk, I consider your security measures a disgrace. In my opinion, you have taken this entire very important project far too lightly.

    Capt. Kirk: On the contrary, sir. I think of this project as very important. It is you I take lightly.

    Thank you Mike, I always wanted to play Capt. Kirk.

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