TN Family Loses Home to Fire: Would You Have Let It Burn?
By now, I'm sure many of you have seen or heard the report about the Tennessee family who lost their home and three puppies to a fire when local volunteer firefighters refused to extinguish the flames because the family failed to pay the city's $75 fire protection fee. The family lives in Obion County, a rural area outside of South Fulton, TN. According to news reports, to provide fire protection to homes outside the city limits, South Fulton charges an annual "pay to spray" fee. The policy, which has been in place since 1990, prevents firefighters from intervening when residents haven't paid up. Gene Cranick and his wife Paulette, owners of the house, have paid the fee before many times, but said it simply slipped their minds this year. The fire department finally did respond to the blaze, but only when a neighbor - who had paid the fee - called 911 to report it had spread to his fields. After attending to the neighbor's fields, firefighters stood by and watched Cranick's house burn to the ground, even after he and a neighbor got their checkbooks out and offered to pay whatever it took to put the fire out. They were told it was too late.
Is anyone else besides myself disturbed by this? I can appreciate the fact that funds are needed to provide fire protection to the counties outside the city limits in this rural area and I agree everyone should contribute. I myself contribute to my township's yearly fire and ambulance fund drive. But to let a family's house burn to the ground and leave them homeless because of an unpaid $75 subscription fee? Where do we, as a society, draw the line when it comes to following policy versus simply helping another human being because it's the right thing to do?
Couldn't the county charge the Cranicks a penalty fee for, say, clean-up, water usage, even gas for the fire trucks? Surely that would have amounted to more than $75 and served as a stiff reminder not to let next year's payment slip their minds.
As an editor at ADVANCE for Nurses
, I'm always moved, yet not surprised, when I hear about or report on nurses who go above and beyond the call of duty. You've helped accident victims you've encountered on your way to and from work, tended to passengers at 30,000 feet on an airplane, performed CPR on athletic fields. It's what you do because you are committed to helping others, no matter where you are, or what you are doing. It's unfortunate the Cranicks weren't shown the same kindness and compassion in their time of need.