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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

TN Family Loses Home to Fire: Would You Have Let It Burn?

Published October 7, 2010 5:19 PM by Lisa Brzezicki
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.
posted by Lisa Brzezicki

17 comments

As an editor at ADVANCE and a coworker with Lisa Brzezicki, the author of this blog, I have to give my two cents. This sad story smacks of some very disturbing world situations we have seen in history. Was there not one firefighter with the gumption and principles to stand up and say "Wait a minute, this isn't right. We're supposed to put out fires, not stand around and watch a person's house burn down?" Is losing a home that probably cost 6 figures just desserts for not paying a less than $100 fee? And how in heck did they know this family hadn't paid? Does 911 have a list they consult? So when you call Obion County to report a fire, do they put you on hold for several minutes to see if you paid up or not? Something is not right in here for sure.

Gail Guterl October 8, 2010 12:29 PM

Republicans have been screaming for months about what a crime it is that public servants make money and that they have to pay taxes for services and government they don't want. It is a privilege that these hillbillies in Tennessee get to elect not to pay for their fire protection. It's suprising to me that they are surprised they didn't get the service that they refused to pay for.  If the only people who payed for fire suppression service were people who had their house catch on fire, there wouldn't be a fire department at all.  They chose not to pay.  They tried to pay too late, but thats not how pooled risk works. They took $75 on a bet that their house wouldn't burn and they lost. If you're a republican that is too smart to pay your hard-earned $75 to the socialist fire dept, don't complain when they don't give you the service for free.

Richard Robert October 8, 2010 11:38 AM
Los angeles CA

This is the most disturbing thing i have heard in a while. They should all lose their jobs and i'm also thinkin it would be a little "fair" if they lost everything themselves! House, pets, items that can never be replaced..Karma is a ***!

Elizabeth, advertising October 8, 2010 10:16 AM
yazoo city MS

Are you people stupid?  Not to shop or spend money in a place because of a few firefighters who refused to help a family.  This county (Obion - not Albion) is so small and have a volunteer fire department.  This is in west Tennessee not east Tennessee where one person said he hiked and spent his money.  I can believe you "Christian" people who actually say "I hope you go to hell".  I do believe YOU are the stupid and uneducated.  Get some sense - people!!!!!

Linda MacGuire, Teacher October 8, 2010 7:56 AM
High Point NC

I AM TRULY SHOCKED AT THIS CITY. NO INTEGRITY,HUMANITY AND COWARDS!! THE MAYOR,CITY MANAGER, EVERYONE ON THE COUNCIL AND THE FIREMEN THAT STOOD BY SHOULD BE FIRED,FINED AND WILL HAVE TO ANSWER TO A HIGHER BEING ONE DAY!! HOW CAN YOU PEOPLE LIVE WITH YOURSELVES?? I COULDN'T!!! WHAT A DISGRACEFUL TOWN!! ALSO I BET THIS SORRY ACT WILL COST YOUR TOWN MORE THAN 75 DOLLARS!! I HOPE ALL OF YOU ROT IN HELL!

george griffin, commercial - owner October 8, 2010 6:47 AM
athens GA

so, everyone was following policy?  not one of these folk had the testicular fortitude to break protocol and actually save these folk from a horrific disaster, all because an upfront fee of a mere $75 ?

May they all, the  mayor, the fire chief and the small-d1cked pyros get their just rewards.  Can't wait to learn the names of these slugs.  Revenge is sweet, even when doled out by someone who was not directly impacted by the callous, ignorant and essentially inhumane behavior shown by Albion County's finest.  

da niu October 7, 2010 10:39 PM

I have always love TN and go there frequently on weekends to hike the mountains and enjoy all they have to offer. After watching those horrible so called fireman coldly justify their actions I will never spend my money or time their again. TN , you are not the people I thought you were. I hope these firemen burn in Hell!!! Can't wait to let Dolly Partin what TN is !!!

Cathy Glorius October 7, 2010 9:19 PM
Lexingto SC

That has got to be the lamest thing those firefighters did.  Remember the bible?-"Judge not lest ye be judged? Well, guess what, firefighters? What goes around comes around-full circle!!! Ya reap what ya sow. 'nuff said.

Tammy October 7, 2010 9:02 PM

We treat people who haven't paid their health insurance premiums in the ER all the time. Should we stand by and let them stroke out because they didn't pay last month?

Donna, Home Care - RN October 7, 2010 8:57 PM
IL

I guess we are living in 3rd world country.  The humane society should have them all fined for cruel and in humane treatment of the animals.  They should put em in house and burn it so they know the way those pets died.

Mary Kelly October 7, 2010 7:51 PM
Hopewell VA

I HOPE EVERYONE OF THESE JERKS GET FINED OUT OF THERE BUTTS, AND LOSE THEIR JOBS. I DONT CARE IF THEY ARE VOLUNTEER OR NOT!!!!!!!!! THAT WAS A FAMILY TOO!!! WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF THIS WAS YOUR HOUSE!!!!! CONTACT ME PLEASE I DARE YOU SO CALLED "FIREFIGHTERS"

Autumn Berry October 7, 2010 7:17 PM

I was told this same town let a black familys house burn down before, and another business.  Also animals died in this fire, as firemen sat and watched the place burn down.

Bob Milller October 7, 2010 7:07 PM

This story disgusts me.  I was brought up to believe that firefighters were heroes.  I believe that no longer.  These scum call themselves firefighters!  They do not deserve my respect.

David, retired October 7, 2010 7:06 PM

I heard of this story through the Young Turks channel, I live in Geneva Switzerland. This story is absolutely shocking to me...the country that landed 60 years ago to save europe from the Nazi's have now firemen that wont move, under the mindless order of a local chief of some sort, to save a home from burning. The country is right back into the medieval ages...I have to take time to tell that story to my kids; where does one start to justify such behaviour?  

Renaud, Events Planning - Independant October 7, 2010 6:43 PM
Geneva

ms brezicki -

thank you for your comments regarding the refusal of the south fulton, tennessee, fire department to respond to the cranick's fire.  

a simple proviso of a penalty for late payment would seem appropriate - not the heartlessness of standing by as a family's home burns.  it could have been children, elderly persons, or persons ill or with disabilities left unattended in the house, rather than "just" puppies left to burn to death.

perhaps a sanity test is needed for the local officials, and volunteer firefighters, who permitted this to happen.  a failure to pay should not be used as a (potential) death sentence., or be the cause of the total loss of one's home and possessions, as happened there.  

anyone can, from time to time, forget to pay a fee.

raymond tumarkin

wyndmoor, pennsylvania

raymond tumarkin, teacher - (semi)-retired October 7, 2010 6:28 PM
wyndmoor PA

Amen!  I am a public school teacher.  We teach the rich and the poor equally.  We all go above and beyond the call of duty.  This story sickens me to no end.  What has become of our country that claims to honor a statue that says, "...give me me your tired your poor...?" when we cannot even put out fires in the houses of ALL of its citizens and we let innocent lives die?  I don't know what else to do but pray...

Sandy October 7, 2010 6:19 PM

It was a mobile home, and everyone knows that mobile homes go up in seconds. It is almost impossible to save them. The son was burning trash in a burning barrel outside, went inside and left it unattended. It set the outside shed on fire, and the family saw that they had time to get the animals out of the house before the mobile home caught on fire. But they stayed outside watching the shed burn. It's a shame that they lost their home, but the animals could have been saved. And they had the mobile home insurured. So they will make it out of this fine. The animals wont.

Zatannna Lee October 7, 2010 6:14 PM

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