General Question

phaedryx's avatar

Couple doesn't pay $75 fire protection fee. Should the fire department from a nearby city helped them anyway?

Asked by phaedryx (6107 points ) July 12th, 2012

You can read the details here and here.

Basically, a there was a couple living outside of the city limits. The city required people living outside the boundaries to pay $75/year to have the city’s fire protection. The couple knew about the fee but didn’t pay it. When their home caught on fire, the fire department didn’t help them even though 911 dispatched them.

Should you get services that you don’t pay for? Rather than saying “firefighters let home burn down” would it be more accurate to say “homeowners refuse to pay fire protection fee and don’t get fire protection”?

Is this policy too extreme? Are there times when compassion trumps justice?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

91 Answers

OpryLeigh's avatar

Wow! This is a tough one. I don’t believe there should be a seperate fee in the first place to be honest, I think it should be included in any taxes that are deducted from your income (as I believe it is over here).

In this case, it’s a bit like insurance. If I don’t pay my animals insurance each month they are not going to help with vets bills should I need them at any point. That is my responsibility as a pet owner and, if this fire protection fee is policy (regardless of how I feel about that policy) then that is their responsibility as home owners who chose to live where they do. If they are completely aware of these fees but choose not to pay them then I feel they only have themselves to blame. I’m very torn here!

whitenoise's avatar

I think it is wrong. When one can help, one should help. Some government services are not well destributed through free market mechanisms. For that there is taxation.

What would we do if people can choose to pay a policing fee? Not help people being robbed?

I feel this is just a government walking away from its responsibility, that is to provide safety to everyone, for as far as possible. In this case the fire department was on the scene, so it proved possible.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@whitenoise Your answer made me a little more decisive on my own. Whilst I believe it is careless for the couple not to pay this fee that they were aware of, I think the fire department should have helped them.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

You do not pick and choose when someone needs help. You just do it. Over $75 bucks you let someone’s house burn? This just further defines assholes.

bkcunningham's avatar

There is more than one side of compassion in this story if you think about it, @phaedryx. Obviously, compassion for the people whose trailer is burning. Also, compassion for the firemen who expect to be paid for putting on bunker gear and risking their lives to save someone’s belongings from the fire and try to prevent the fire from spreading. Compassion for other’s in the county who did pay their fees and expect the fire department’s equipment to be maintained and the firefighters compensated.

missingbite's avatar

The problem here is, let one off the hook of paying and the rest may not pay. Then where are you? Same as Affordable Care Act. Is it a Tax or a Penalty. Do I still get coverage if I don’t pay? Do you send me to jail if I don’t pay the Tax/Penalty? Slippery slope.

Who pays if a fireman is killed saving a home that is not paying their tax/penalty?

elbanditoroso's avatar

This is the problem that occurs when government abrogates its duty to tax (and protect) and moves to a fee-for-service model.

In the right wing move towards smaller government and lower (or no taxes), services that were formerly a given – fire and police protection – are now ‘pay for service’ or ‘prepay for service’. In the Old United States, fire service was a given – it was what part of your taxes paid for. In the new right wing United States, the mantra is – no pay, let ‘em burn.

Let’s be clear – this is going to happen more and more as the anti-government and anti-tax fanatics try to flex their muscles.

As to the immediate question – YES, it was OK to let the house burn down. I can only hope that the person who owned the house was a member of the Tea Party, because this is the sort of thing that they advocate.

And as for the person who wrote the comparison to the Affordable Care Act (@missingbite) – right on, same issue. Good parallel.

SavoirFaire's avatar

This is why emergency services should not be paid for in this manner. Of course the fire fighters should have helped. We build them up as heroes in this country, and heroes do not stand idly by when there is a problem they can solve right in front of them.

The mayor’s statement is also one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read. Here’s what he said:

“There’s no way to go to every fire and be able to keep up the manpower, the equipment, and just the funding for the fire department.”

While this might seem sensible at first, the story notes that the manpower and the equipment already went to the fire—they just didn’t do anything about it. Those guys are still getting paid, but for doing nothing. It’s ridiculous.

@missingbite Your comparison makes no sense. People already get health coverage if they do not pay. Emergency rooms cannot refuse to treat patients. The ACA helps ease the loss that hospitals take by making sure that everyone either has insurance or pays a fee to not have insurance (where that fee goes to pay down the cost individuals pass on to society by not having health insurance).

The other parts don’t make sense either. Leaving aside the fact that slippery slope is a logical fallacy, we already know what happens to people who do not pay the tax and it is not jail. The enforcement mechanisms are part of the law as written. Same thing with the firemen: their death benefits are already part of their contracts.

chyna's avatar

What surprises me is that there must be some kind of a list that the fire department looks at before answering a call. Really? A fire department takes the time to read a list of those that do not pay their fees before they leave the station?

phaedryx's avatar

@chyna or it could be simpler: they cover everyone within the city limits and consult a list of who’s paid if called outside of city limits; still interesting

Linda_Owl's avatar

I live in Venus, TX & we have only a Volunteer Fire Dept. & a Volunteer EMT Service. They respond to every emergency fire / rescue call. My son-in-law (who is in the National Guard & has seen several deployments to Afghanistan) is one of the Volunteer Firemen & he is a Certified EMT Tech. The fire dept. in this instance allowed the home to burn when they had the ability to have put it out…. to me this is a disgrace to the fire fighting profession!

Cruiser's avatar

As sad as it is this couple was very aware of the counties policies and chose not to pay this fee. This is one of the reasons I chose not to move to an unincorporated part of my county. With kids I wanted emergency services that could get to my house in minutes.

josie's avatar

I am always curious at how people develop a notion that they should have something that they do not pay for, and especially if they simply refuse to pay for it. What did these people think would happen if their house caught on fire. They screwed up. Not the firemen, not the people who dutifully pay for the service. It was they who screwed up.

jca's avatar

I do feel bad for the families that lost their homes, but I feel that if the Fire Department took care of everyone’s homes regardless of whether or not they paid the fee, then why would anybody pay the fee? I know I wouldn’t.

@SavoirFaire: It’s very possible the Fire Department is volunteer, in which case they’re not “getting paid for doing nothing.” They’re not getting paid at all. The fee probably goes toward equipment upkeep, etc. This is just a guess. They could be a “paid” department.

WestRiverrat's avatar

It costs more than $75 to put out a fire.

If the people don’t want to pay the fee up front, they shouldn’t have to. But if you don’t pay the yearly fee you should expect to pay the price.

The Fire Department should have put the fire out, but then they should have charged $750 an hour for each truck, and $150 an hour for each firefighter. They should also be billed for the EMS service if it is called to assist the firefighters.

That is what was charged when I was on the ambulance service, it probably has increased with inflation since then.

The fire department was dispatched and would have helped if there had been people endangered by the fire. But once they determine all the occupants are accounted for they are not allowed to help.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Unfortunately, many who live in un-incorporated areas & who live in mobile homes, usually have little income available & most likely, they did not have the money to pay the fee. Where I live there is no fee for the fire dept., but they do hold a couple of fund-raisers each year in order to facilitate the purchase of equipment, fuel, & insurance.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jca Good point about them possibly being volunteers, but that only makes it worse to my mind because that’s one less excuse that someone can give for why they didn’t do the right thing. As for your other point, I’d still pay the fee. I can afford it, it helps protect a valuable service, so I’d pay it. The logic that says “I won’t do (or pay) anything I don’t absolutely have to” is fool’s logic.

I understand why this happened, but I think it’s just a bad system all around. That’s why my real objection was to having this sort of payment scheme for emergency services in the first place. The rural area should be somehow incorporated into the city’s fire service in a way that doesn’t make support or service optional.

jca's avatar

@SavoirFaire: I’m not saying that the theory “I’m not doing anything unless I absolutely have to” would apply to everything in my life, but when it comes to money, if you’re asking me to pay something and someone else is getting the exact same thing for free, then why are you asking me to pay it? Because you think I can afford it? Because the neighbor feels they shouldn’t have to? Maybe I can afford it but am foregoing something in order to do so. Maybe my neighbor doesn’t feel they should pay it but they went out and bought themselves a big-screen TV for Christmas. Maybe I just had to buy four new tires for my car and had to put it on my credit card at 19% interest, but I realize the importance of paying the $75 fee. There are lots of possibilities but as others have said, they knew the consequences of not paying and they still chose not to.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I live 5 miles outside of the city here, which has a mix of volunteer and paid firefighters and EMS personnel. Our town contracts with the city fire department to provide first responders and our volunteer fire department backs them up. For little more than the cost of a fire truck we get paid coverage. It’s part of my property tax. Every taxpayer pays for the coverage. It works great. I had to call them for a car accident and they were there in about 5 minutes.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jca You’re response boils down to “why should I do the right thing when other people don’t and get away with it?” I think that question answers itself. You wouldn’t say the same thing about murdering people, would you?

jca's avatar

@SavoirFaire: I specifically gave the parameters I was referring to.

bkcunningham's avatar

Only the people who lived in the mobile home knows why they didn’t want to pay the assessment. Maybe they thought, and rightfully so, that by the time a fire department got to their home it would be burned to the ground anyway and perhaps they had homeowner’s insurance to cover the loss.

What if they didn’t have homeowners’ insurance, who should pay to house and cloth them now?

Nullo's avatar

Why not have an option to pay post-facto? I never got that.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@bkcunningham -in your question – “who should pay to house and clothe them?” – my answer would be “not me”. And for that matter, not “the state”. They chose to live dangerously, and it bit them in the butt.

let them get charity from their church or their family. The fact that they made bad decisions does NOT make them my responsibility.

bkcunningham's avatar

I was obviously playing Devil’s Advocate, @elbanditoroso, and you certainly have a right to your opinion and it is certainly an interesting response.

linguaphile's avatar

That’s just cold. Policy should never replace humanity. I shudder at the idea that this could become the norm—that policy comes first.

bkcunningham's avatar

The couple lived outside the city limits and weren’t paying city taxes, that is why those outside the city were asked to pay the $75 a year fee.

linguaphile's avatar

@bkcunningham I understand the situation—they should’ve paid. Since they didn’t, they could’ve been billed, especially the first guy whose house burned down—he offered to pay whatever was necessary to get help and they ignored him. That’s cold.

What if there had been people in those houses? The way it sounds, the fire dept. would still have not helped them. That’s mind-boggling to me.

In Arizona, there’a a dumb motorist law—if you drive into a flash flood and need to be rescued, you pay the city back. They put life first, money second—I prefer that.

$75 might not sound like much to many people, but there have been times in my life where $75 was the difference between food and starving for my family. I don’t know why those folks didn’t pay the $75, but from the article, there doesn’t seem to be any recourse for those who can’t afford $75.

bkcunningham's avatar

I missed the part where he offered to pay whatever was necessary to get help and were ignored, @linguaphile. Did he make the offer to the firemen at the scene of his house fire?

The article I read said Bell and her boyfriend said they were aware of the policy, but thought a fire would never happen to them.

Cruiser's avatar

@linguaphile In the first article the Mayor is quoted that the firefighters will save people in danger regardless of payment…

For his part, Mayor Crocker stressed that the city’s firefighters will help people in danger, even those who haven’t paid the fee. “After the last situation, I would hope that everybody would be well aware of the rural fire fees, this time,” Crocker said.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Fire insurance would be voided if you didn’t pay the fee. When we lived in rural ND we paid the fee, not because we felt the FD could get there in time to save the house, but to keep our fire insurance in effect.

@linguaphile if you cannot afford the fee, there are usually mechanisms in place to either waive the fees or reduce it. But you have to make the effort to apply for the waivers.

bkcunningham's avatar

Do you mean home owner’s, @WestRiverrat?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@bkcunningham just the fire portion of the homeowner’s insurance. Theft, wind and falling trees would still have been covered.

bkcunningham's avatar

I hadn’t thought of that, @WestRiverrat.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jca Your parameters are a red herring. That was part of my point.

@Nullo Exactly right. That’s one of the things I find baffling about this: if you say “I was stupid, I’m sorry, I’ll pay you right now—and I’ll even pay extra” the fire fighters still won’t help you out. This is exactly what happened in a previous incident.

jca's avatar

@SavoirFaire: Because you call it a red herring does not make it so. I am not going to argue about what I meant and what you think I meant, and you putting words in my mouth to suit yourself.

bkcunningham's avatar

The article said the 20 year old policy doesn’t allow people to pay on the spot, @SavoirFaire, because everyone would wait until their property was burning to pay for fire protection. It is like trying to get hurricane insurance when there is a named hurricane approaching your home.

jca's avatar

@bkcunningham: and then, if your home is never on fire (or never approached by a hurricane) you might just not ever pay. Perhaps it would be like not paying your auto insurance unless you get into an accident. Get into an accident, here’s my premium! Now pay my bills. No accident, sorry, you can’t have your insurance payment!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jca No, what makes it a red herring is it being a red herring. And if you refuse to explain yourself, what reason do I have to reconsider? Being indignant does not a rebuttal make.

@bkcunningham I understand that, but such an explanation is inconsistent with the mayor’s justification for the the fire fighter’s actions. The point is that the city does not have a coherent argument. If they don’t think there’s anything wrong with me choosing to paying the fee some years and not others, but getting full coverage the years when I do pay, then why does it matter when I pay? It shouldn’t. So they need to change the logic behind their argument if they want to be convincing.

jca's avatar

@SavoirFaire: I specified previously that my saying why pay unless you have to does not equate to why should I do the right thing when others don’t have to. I specified that it refers only to money, while you made it sound like I meant it refers to everything under the sun.

If you and I have cars and are required to buy auto insurance, and you get the same benefits I get, even if you don’t buy auto insurance, and you don’t get penalized when you don’t have it, why would I have it? Why not just skate by like you do? Unless I’m rich and have money to throw away.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jca And I am saying that trying to make that separation is logically untenable because in the current situation paying the money is the right thing to do. You can insist all you want that there is a distinction, but that doesn’t make it true.

JLeslie's avatar

I pay $45 a month on my utility bill for fire department coverage, it is robbery!

This is why it should be a tax. Too many people really don’t think ahead or for rainy days. This is why we have social security, medicare, and yes government funded fire departments and police forces. We need a mommy government to protect irresponsible people from themselves, and for our own sake.

I think the situation is not simple. My gut tells me the fire department should put out any fire. If the house had not been there, I think the fire department would have put it out on open land. But, I do think people need to pay for services, there should be a way to pay a penalty after the fact, so the fire deoartment can do their job, and the city gets back some revenue.

jca's avatar

@SavoirFaire: The family should have paid the money? Yes, so then we agree. They should have paid the money or receive no help from the FD. At least we agree on that.

bkcunningham's avatar

Here’s the thing I think you may be forgetting, @SavoirFaire. It takes money to run the fire department. Everyone in the city limits is paying their fair share for the fire department’s budget. If they don’t pay, the city can put liens against their property or whatever action has been deemed legal by the board of supervisors or state officials. The people in the county aren’t paying for the services with their property taxes and other city taxes. The city said ok, if you want to use our services, you have to pay $75 a year. If you don’t pay, you don’t get the service. If they don’t like it, let them start their own fire department. That is most likely how the one in the city started in the first place. People saw a need and paid to start a fire department.

jca's avatar

@SavoirFaire: And as far as your knowing what I mean when I speak, I guess it must be nice to be able to read minds!

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jca The family should have paid the money. That we agree on. But my position is that the fire department should have helped them anyway (and then required payment afterward). You know this is my position perfectly well, as I have stated it quite explicitly. It is quite disingenuous of you to complain that I am putting words in your mouth by asking you to clarify your argument while simultaneously pretending I said the opposite of what you know I said. Please be an honest contributor to this discussion.

And I have made no claim to be able to read minds. I have told you what your statements seem to mean and asked for clarification if I was incorrect. You have refused to give said clarification, however, preferring to be sarcastic and non-responsive instead. Everyone has the right to an opinion, but stating it publicly brings with it a responsibility to defend your position. As the old saying goes: defend your premises or abandon them.

@bkcunningham The thing I think you are forgetting is that I have already addressed that point. I think the people in the rural area should be paying for the services. I think the entire system is foolish. I’ve said this several times already.

ragingloli's avatar

Yes. Just take them to court for the costs afterwards, they can pay it in installments.
And 75 quid a year is just 6.25 a month, do not try to tell me that you can not afford it

nikipedia's avatar

Out of curiosity, for those who think the firefighters should have let ‘em burn: Would you say the same thing if the people were trapped inside?

What if their young children were trapped inside?

WestRiverrat's avatar

@nikipedia did you read any of the city officials responses? If there would have been lives in danger, the firefighters would have taken action. That was not the case, so they monitored the fire.

That is the main reason they showed up at the location instead of just telling them not our problem and staying home.

nikipedia's avatar

@WestRiverrat, I’m not asking about the actual policy…

chyna's avatar

“However, Bell and her husband were forced to walk into the burning home in an attempt to retrieve their own belongings. “You could look out my mom’s trailer and see the trucks sitting at a distance,”
Actually, @WestRiverrat, from this quote from the article, there were lives in danger. The people kept going in to retrieve their belongings. If firefighters had been on the scene, they would never have allowed the people to go back in.

bkcunningham's avatar

Yes, of course @nikipedia. I’m a conservative and you know what that means. I hate children, especially poor children. If they sorry parents hadn’t paid the $75, I think they should be locked in the house and burned. If they don’t have children, they should be “forced” to go into the house to retrieve their scorched belongings.~ Is that a serious question? Come on now, @nikipedia.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@chyna this is still America, while the firefighters can tell the people not to go into the burning house, they also cannot stop them from doing so if they so desire. If you as a homeowner want to risk your own life, why should I as a firefighter be forced to risk my life to save your dumb ass? Especially when you can’t be bothered to pay me for risking my life to save your property?

jca's avatar

@SavoirFaire: I have explained myself several times, and you keep acting as if I have not, or acting as if I meant something that I did not mean (which is why I put the sarcasm about reading my mind). I see at least two serious responses above, starting with ”@SavoirFaire” that explain my position. I don’t understand what you don’t understand.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jca This is getting ridiculous. I understand your position. I am also saying that it is logically untenable and giving reasons why. Instead of responding to that point, you have refused to elaborate on why you think your position is correct beyond the mere reassertion of it. That’s the problem.

jca's avatar

@SavoirFaire: I have I have I have. Did I not agree with @bkcunningham and elaborate there? Did I not post a bunch of other times explaining my logic? Please stop playing dumb because you are not.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@jca But your agreement with @bkcunningham is just another reassertion of the same point. And as I pointed out in one of my responses to @bkcunningham, it doesn’t fit with the justification given by the mayor anyway. So if we’re supposed to be reading one another’s responses to other people in order to divine what we might say to each other, then you also have yet to respond to that point.

WestRiverrat's avatar

If the fire department does not collect money up front it will have no funds for training the firefighters.

If everyone pays up front, then everyone gets the benefit of well trained firefighters. If everyone decides to only pay if they have a fire, then they will not have any trained firefighters to put out fires, which means the fire department would have to close. Then no one would have fire protection.

If you don’t want to pay the annual fee, are you willing to accept the help of only the untrained firefighters or would you expect the certified firefighters to be there to put out your fire?

The local fire department is an all volunteer force that holds frequent fundraisers for training. As it is if the volunteers didn’t pony up an average of $2000 each for their own annual training there would not be enough certified fire fighters and per state law they would not be allowed to operate the fire station.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’m not that smart, but I can understand what you said and it makes sense to me, @WestRiverrat.

jca's avatar

@SavoirFaire: If you and I are expected to pay for insurance, and I choose not to pay but we’re getting the same benefits regardless, and no penalties for not paying, then why should I pay? Unless I have money to give away, and I don’t because I’m not rich. I stated that above, and you brought up the comparison to murder. I then said I was referring to money only, not everything in the world. You then started telling me what I meant and how I meant it. From there, we started not understanding each other. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree, because we’re getting caught up in the non-comprehension game.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I don’t agree with the city’s policy about not helping if someone doesn’t pay the fee up front (unless people are in danger (though their opinion of people in danger and my opinion of that differ)). I understand their concern about more people ceasing to pay the fee if they realize that the fire company will come and put out fires for people that haven’t paid, but honestly, people wouldn’t know who did and didn’t pay if they didn’t make a big deal of it. If the fire company just showed up, put out the fire, and handled things privately with the home owner’s, the neighbors wouldn’t know that they home owner’s hadn’t paid in advance.

Another concern I have is for the people in the surrounding homes who did pay their fee. If their property would have caught fire, I’m sure the fire company would respond, but it could have easily been prevented by responding to the initial fire instead of watching it burn and waiting for it to spread to someone who did pay the fee.

chyna's avatar

@WestRiverrat Wow that is pretty harsh. But I’m not here to judge, I’m just saying what I think/believe.

bkcunningham's avatar

Why not just settle with the homeowner in private after the fact so no people wouldn’t realize who did and who didn’t pay?

So what happens when residents who do pay and don’t break the law see these funds in the fire department’s budget as revenue, @Seaofclouds? You can’t use taxpayer dollars and not be open, transparent and honest.

jca's avatar

Re: billing the homeowners after the fact, for putting out the fire in lieu of them paying $75 per year for the fire department’s annual fee, if the homeowners don’t have $75 to spare, then how could they afford thousands of dollars for fire trucks, firemen, equipment usage, etc.?

ragingloli's avatar

@jca
“Bell and her boyfriend said they were aware of the policy, but thought a fire would never happen to them.
They did not pay because they did not want to, not because they were not able to.
And they lost 3 dogs and a cat, so they obviously had enough cash to feed 4 animals, but not enough to pay 6.25 a month for fire insurance? Tell that to your grandmother.

phaedryx's avatar

@Everyone excellent discussion

I wonder if the people in the same situation who haven’t paid the $75 will all pay now. Does than need to be taken into consideration as well? Does letting someone suffer consequences ultimately benefit other people in this case?

WestRiverrat's avatar

Maybe @chyna, but if you value a trip to McDonald’s a month over paying for fire coverage for your property, don’t be surprised if the fire fighters don’t place much value on your property either.

The fire department in this instance is under no legal obligation to fight any fires outside of its jurisdiction. If enough people in the township don’t pay their annual fee, the fire department could just drop coverage for everyone in that township. Then the township would have to fund and maintain its own fire district.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@WestRiverrat And while that is a fine summary of the problem, it doesn’t tell us the solution. My suggestion was for the areas outside of the city to pay for the fire department up front through their taxes rather than making it optional. That way, we don’t have any more situations like this. Alternatively, there was the point made by @Nullo and myself that if the city is really serious that they are okay with people paying some years and not others and only getting fire service in those years when they have paid, then they have no logical response to why they won’t let people call up and say “I’ll pay now, and I’ll even pay double—just come to my house.” Even if you and I agree that this is not the optimal solution, nothing that the city has used as an argument in favor of this policy explains why they do not allow this. I’m all for making people pay for fire service. I’m just not in favor of using mob tactics to enforce it.

@jca If we are both expected to pay and one of us doesn’t while still reaping the benefits, the other should still pay because it’s the right thing to do. Both should pay, and the fact that one doesn’t cannot remove the responsibility of the other. That’s how things like the tragedy of the commons get started. Indeed, the situation we are discussing is one of those that shows exactly why rational self-interest is a poor model to be used as the exclusive basis for both moral and social reasoning.

Surely it is a truism that two wrongs don’t make a right. It is also a truism that you doing something wrong doesn’t justify me doing something wrong. These truisms hold regardless of subject matter, so trying to make an exception for money won’t work. And this is where the comparison to murder comes in. You want to make a distinction that I do not think can be made. If we have to deny one of these truisms with regard to money, there’s no logical reason not to deny it for murder as well.

There are emotional reasons and rhetorical reasons to want to keep them separate, but no good logical reasons to justify the separation. And that’s the problem: to allow one is to logically allow the other. But we don’t want to allow both, so we cannot allow either. Some other solution to the problem will have to be found.

@phaedryx The thing is, this has happened before. It didn’t scare everyone into paying then, so I don’t see why it would now. Nor do I think it would be justified for the city to say “and let that be a lesson to the rest of you!” Those would be mob tactics, it seems to me.

As I said way back in my second answer, I understand where the city is coming from. There is a genuine problem that the city needs to solve, this is what they came up with, and a sufficient number of people seem to think that it is the best solution available. I just happen to disagree with the city on a few of the finer points.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@SavoirFaire The fire department that is doing the billing is probably not ok with the idea of some people paying some years but not others. But their contract with the out of town governing authority may be such that they cannot force people to accept coverage. If there are multiple fire districts in the area, some may choose to go with a different fire department that is closer to where they live. If this is the case it would be a nightmare for the treasurer to figure out who gets charged for protection from which fire department and how do we split the fire protection taxes.

If they could afford the extra workers needed to keep track of the taxes, they probably could afford to maintain a fire department of their own.

Maybe they should collect auto insurance money on every licensed driver. That is required to drive in most states, and it would eliminate all the uninsured drivers.

phaedryx's avatar

@SavoirFaire hmm, there is insufficient data to say whether or not anyone decided to pay because this happened. Consider this hypothetical: there are 50 people outside of the city who decided not to pay, 1 person loses their home in a fire, 15 people decide they’d better play it safe and pay the fee, this couple loses their home, now 20 more people decide to pay the fee. I don’t think you can draw your conclusion from two data points.

I really wish they would do a survey of the area: who paid before the fires happened, who paid after the fires happened, and how many still don’t pay.

chyna's avatar

@WestRiverrat as a matter of fact, this isn’t about me, as I pay my fire fee, and I don’t go to McDonalds, and you have no idea if the people who lost their house spent money on McDonalds or just had no money to pay a fire fee. Maybe you should stop generalizing and find out the reason before you hand out your harsh judgements. Not all people are wealthy.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@chyna I stated above there are waivers available for those that cannot afford the fire fee. If they are unwilling to apply for that waiver, why should fire fighters be expected to risk their lives to save the belongings of people that don’t care enough to make a minimal effort to help themselves?

You don’t even have to go anywhere to apply, you can do it over the phone.

jca's avatar

@SavoirFaire: You keep insisting that I am justifying murder. That is insane. Regarding the entire argument, you and I will just have to agree to disagree. Period.

linguaphile's avatar

@bkcunningham, @Cruiser I followed the link to this article It provides a bit more information about the first fire and states that the guy offered the dispatcher money on the phone. That’s where I got my information.

It does appear that the news articles, the mayor’s words, and the actual practice don’t match up. The information’s not consistent in what they’re saying.

Coloma's avatar

I dunno…mixed bag IMO.
On the one hand they opted out of paying the fees, on the other it seems to be overkill to allow any home to burn. Why couldn’t they have saved the home and then billed them the original fees and maybe a bit more?
Well…..bending the rules is not part of hardcore protocol I suppose.

My local fire protection is great, living in a high risk wildfire zone. My guys have even come to my house to rescue my cat out of a tree and once changed a flat for me on the road. Yay El Dorado Co. fire dept!

fluthernutter's avatar

Sounds harsh, but I agree with @WestRiverrat.

- They knowingly chose not to pay.
– $75/year…$6.25/month…$1.43/week…$0.20/day is NOT a hefty sum.
– No person was actually in danger.
– Give them the option to pay the ACTUAL costs of putting out a fire. Thousands of dollars——not $75.

Coloma's avatar

@fluthernutter You have a point, but still…it is like turning down an uninsured person in the ER. If the fire spread it could burn more homes, acres of land. I guess the same principal applies to firefighters, they CHOOSE this as their line of work so they know the risks, as did the delinquent homeowners that lost their home.

fluthernutter's avatar

@Coloma It’s different than turning someone away in the ER because we’re talking about material things. If someone were in danger, the firemen would have intervened.

Coloma's avatar

@fluthernutter Well then, I guess that’s all that matters, but to stand by when people or pets are in danger is immoral.
We all have major evacuation plans up here in my zone and there are tons of horses and livestock. It is very scary when thinking about what it takes to evacuate large animals.
If the F.D. put my home and animals at risk by refusing to contain or assist in a fire situation I would sue this county up one side and down the other.

fluthernutter's avatar

@Coloma I’d be worried about that if I had a lot of livestock too. :(

There’s a lot of trust there though. Trust that they’re well-trained enough to rescue you and your loved ones from a fire. Trust that they are well-trained enough to contain a fire.

An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. But someone still needs to pay for the vaccines. And what about people who are just anti-vaccines I general?

Whoops…my metaphor totally took me off track. Sorry.

phaedryx's avatar

@Coloma “If the fire department put my home at risk…”

Wait a second. How are the firefighters putting a home at risk? The firefighters aren’t the ones who started the fire.

Coloma's avatar

@phaedryx I meant by deliberately refusing to tend to a fire due to lack of payment and putting other homes/people at risk.

bkcunningham's avatar

Does anyone else see how the person who didn’t pay their fair share is partially at fault in this scenario? They didn’t say they didn’t have the money and plead poverty to the city when the proposal was made regarding responding to fires outside the city within the county limits. The only information we have from the articles is the daughter in the one story saying they never dreamed they’d have a fire and need the services of the fire department.

We’ll guess what? You should have hedged your bet. Sorry, but you lost. Thank God you had some kind of insurance. There are plenty of people who aren’t that fortunate.

jca's avatar

@Coloma: You could try to sue, of course, if you were in that situation, but you would very possibly lose, as it would come out that you had chance after chance and notice after notice (that the jurisdiction would provide to the court) to pay or apply for reduction or apply for exemption, and you chose not to. It’s like car insurance – who would you blame if you had no car insurance and crashed your car?

WestRiverrat's avatar

It wasn’t like the FD didn’t show up at all. They were there and monitored the fire, if it had threatened one of their clients they could/would have stepped in immediately.

Nullo's avatar

I’ve got it! The fire department helps out of the goodness of their hearts, and then the town has a fundraiser for them.

JLeslie's avatar

@Nullo How about the fire deartment helps amd then the people who received the benefit back pay back at least triple the yearly fee, and all the other townspeople get a small refund. If the owners need to do a fundraiser to help pay fine, they can do one. I

f they are poor, I recommend they move to a place that cares more about providing these services through government, or becoming more active in more left wing causes. If they are right wing, everyone is out for themselves and takes care of themselves, then now they have learned the lesson of what happens when tragedy strikes in that circumstance. I am not assuming anything about the particular people who had their house burn down.

I personally know someone who bitched about welfare and irresponsible poor people who feed of the system, and now this one paricular woman recently had her husband die with no life insurance very little money to their name, and their income was not a poor income, and she visited social services for a help a few weeks ago. She probably doesn’t like the penalty Obama has as part of his healthcare for those who don’t participate, but that is very similar to what I am proposing as a penalty for those people who did not pay for fire cverage and then used the service. The penalty is still probably way way cheaper than paying for the care or fireman outright, it is still falling back on others paying into the system. If they had fire insurance on their home, the bill for the insurer would be much less if the fire department interviened, which affects all of us in the end also.

bkcunningham's avatar

Hi @JLeslie. I hope you are doing okay. I was reading your post and saw where you suggested people who are poor should move to places that care more about providing services like fire protection to residents through the government. Which, I assume you mean taxes. But anyway, the first problem I have with that idea is poor people moving.

It is expensive to move. If someone is too poor to pay a fee to keep a fire department up and running, I doubt they have the money necessary to move. You have to money for deposits and the cost of moving your belongings is another whole story.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: If the family is going to have a fundraiser to pay a penalty that’s 3 times the cost of the initial fee for fire protection, wouldn’t it make more sense if they had that same fundraiser at the outset, to pay the original fire protection fee?

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Of course you are correct. Poor people can’t move easily. I don’t remember, was this couple that poor? I know the story a year ago of a Tn couple discussed the owner wanting to pay the fire department on the spot to put out the fire, and the fire department would not take the money nor help them.

@jca Because many people poor, middle, amd rich tend to believe nothing bad will happen, or are willing to play the odds. It takes people who believe bad things happen to force others to protect themseves. That is what most government programs and taxes are about along with people who have means supporting those without to some extent. Social security is basically forcing people to save for their future, because you can’t count on them to do it for themselves. Medicare is awareness that as we get older we need more medical care and it could be expensive, so we force all working people to pay in throughout their lives. If they were not forced, most would not do anything to ensure health care and savings for their later years, or not enough anyway. Maybe not most people, but a sugnificant enough percentage of people would plan inadequately. In the past American life was very different, families were larger, it was a different dynamic and culture to care for our elderly relatives, now it is a huge burden for people to financially care for their elderly relatives if they have no saving or had no medical coverage. I don’t mean we discard our older relatives, I just mean I think culturally we have an expectation of people affording themselves, and not being financial burdens on the family. I think that for adult children and parents, we are very individual responsibility minded in that way, and I think that is part of the reason we look to government for certain services and provisions.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther