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Firefighters watch house burn, animals die. International firefighters group slams fee as ‘pay to play’

October 7, 2010

In terms of “crime”, which is worse? Not paying a fee or allowing animals and a home to die? Life, decency, and integrity take precedence, and once again, humans have proven to be incapable of such. I have no words for the disgusting display of apathy and immorality. And for what? $75.00? Way to demonstrate that the dismissal of life and ethics come so cheaply, so much for being heroes to animals, your communities and children must be so proud.

Immediate, please sign:
Tell Obion County Sheriff Danny Jowers It’s Not Ok To Let Animals Burn To Death

Related, Our Compass will revise once available:
Philanthropy Team Mobilizing Thousands of Pet Lovers to Protest Tennessee Mayor and Fire Chief

From The Raw Story

By Eric W. Dolan

Requiring residents outside of city limits to pay a $75 fee for fire protection is an ill-advised and unsafe policy, according to the International Association of Fire Fighters.

On September 29th, the South Fulton Fire Department in Tennessee refused to extinguish a fire ignited at the house of Gene Cranick. Because Cranick’s home is in a rural area outside of city limits, he is required to pay a fee to the city for protection, but claims he forgot to pay.

Although no members of the Cranick family were harmed during the fire, three dogs and a cat perished. The house was left to burn to the ground, but the fire department protected their neighbors, who had paid the fee.

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) has condemned the “pay-to-play” policy of South Fulton.

Although no members of the Cranick family were harmed during the fire, three dogs and a cat perished.

“The decision by the South Fulton Fire Department to allow a family’s home to burn to the ground was incredibly irresponsible,” President of the IAFF, Harold Schaitberger, said in a statement. “We condemn South Fulton’s ill-advised, unsafe policy. [Firefighters] shouldn’t be forced to check a list before running out the door to see which homeowners have paid up.”

“Anybody that’s not in the city of South Fulton, it’s a service we offer, either they accept it or they don’t,” said the Mayor of South Fulton, David Crocker.

Mayor Crocker claims to have looked at the issue of rural fire protection “100 different ways,” but has not yet found a better solution to the problem than the $75 dollar fee. Comparing the policy to auto insurance, Crocker says if the fire department operated on a per-call basis, there would be no incentive for those outside of the city’s limits to pay the fee.

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“We are a city fire department,” said city manager Jeff Vowell. “We are responsible for the City of South Fulton and we offer a subscription (to rural residents). If they choose not to, we can’t make them.”

Pundits on both sides of the political spectrum have also weighed in on the incident.

On his radio show Tuesday, Glenn Beck said, “What is the $75 for? To keep the firemen available, to keep the fire trucks running, to pay for the fire department to have people employed to put the fire out.”

“If you don’t pay the 75 dollars, then that hurts the fire department,” continued Beck. “They can’t use those resources, and you’d be sponging off your neighbor’s resources.”

On MSNBC’s Countdown Monday, Keith Olbermann blasted South Fulton’s “a la carte government,” mocking it as an example of “Tea Party America” where “you have to pay taxes for the fire department, plus a special fee.”

On the other hand, one left-leaning blogger thinks the tea party shoe is on the other foot.

“The Tea Party loves to talk about individuality and smaller government,” writes Sasha Brown-Worsham at The Stir. “They love to talk about self determination, but when their house is burning, who’s on the phone the quickest, dialing 9-1-1?”

This time, the fire department said no. Good on them.

We can argue all day about the morality of that, but the line has to be drawn somewhere. You don’t get to refuse to pay your taxes and then wonder why the government services you so “don’t need” are no longer available to you.

Bureaucracy is an awful thing, but paying $75 is not. It’s part of living in our society and although it’s sad that Cranick lost his home, the lesson is clear: We don’t exist in a vacuum.


37 Comments leave one →
  1. Marji permalink
    October 7, 2010 1:02 pm

    The family had paid the fee for years prior. They forget one year and, well, I guess it’s a big f-u from the city. I do wonder if they’d be singing a different tune if three infants and a toddler burned to death (I wouldn’t).

    Our* right to live supersedes anybody’s right to get paid. Period. End of story.

    *And I include both humans and non humans.


    • Marina permalink
      October 7, 2010 4:45 pm

      You echo my thoughts entirely!!


    • Vik permalink
      October 8, 2010 2:47 am

      My thoughts echoed too…
      I’m pretty dam sure the excuse of none payment of a 75 dollar fee wouldn’t cut it as valid if children had burnt to death, so how can it be used to justify standing back to watch animals suffer such a horrific death?
      Shame on you South Fulton Fire Department, this news has reached the UK where firefighters will & do attend to animals in distress… Without thought to your poxy fee!!


      • jtwaldie permalink
        October 9, 2010 12:00 am

        This mayor is a lame excuse for a human. I would have to say at the least he has no morals or ethics. I hope he is run out of town and also hope he is sued to within an inch of his life. He deserves every detrimental, merciless event that happens to him because of his callousness, as does every member of this fire department. AND WHO SAYS THOSE PETS WHO PERISHED WEREN’T FAMILY MEMBERS? That is a crock of b*ll sh*t!


  2. S.Q.M permalink
    October 7, 2010 1:21 pm

    This is horrifying! A life is a life is a life. These despicable human beings could have saved the animals and the familys’ home but chose not to. I hope one day soon they are treated with the same depravity that they showed this family. Karma is a bitch!


  3. karen lyons kalmenson permalink
    October 7, 2010 1:30 pm

    instead of getting their hefty pension
    these firefighters belong in the
    house of detention!!!!


    • judith hay permalink
      October 8, 2010 9:33 pm

      they’re volunteers. they don’t have “hefty pensions”, but to stand by and listen to four animals die is incredible,cold hearted, and sadistic.


  4. October 7, 2010 2:41 pm

    I am sure this family has paid their local, state, and federal taxes and if they did then the fire department DID get their money. It would seem that this man has a court case.


    • D.S. permalink
      October 8, 2010 8:57 am

      If you read the article, you’d understand that only people who live in the city pay taxes to support the fire department. For the people outside the city, IF they want service, they need to contribute $75/yr. to help pay for when the fire department is called to service outside city limits…. it’s not as if $75 covers the cost of a trip to put out a fire! Be realistic! That annual fee accumulates and helps to pay for when the fire department needs to make a trip outside the city, for which I’m sure a single trip cost is more in the $100s or $1000s.

      I feel for the animals too…. but think it was the responsibility of the homeowner to take care of themselves and their animals. They knew there was a fee. If the fire department took care of it “just this once” because they may have forgot, how many other households would decide to decline to pay for the service in advance, knowing that they’d be taken care of when they actually had a fire?

      I think paying for the service shouldn’t be optional. Every household in this country should either be covered by a fire department, and forced to be RESPONSIBLE to pay taxes which contribute to supporting it OR know that they have NO coverage…. if they are so far out in the boonies that it’s unrealistic to provide service to them.


      • October 8, 2010 9:36 am

        We can sit here endlessly and debate calculations, stats, and responsibilities, but at the end of the day it comes to this: they were there, they did nothing, animals died, a home was lost. And THAT is unconscionable because it was based on money rather than morals.

        As for “I feel for the animals”: that is incredibly speciesist. Had those been human babies, would you be so cavalier about the loss of their lives? Would they merely have been the “responsibility” of the “homeowners” and therefore disposable as such?

        Ethics are not based on convenience and portfolios: integrity lies somewhere beyond calculable figures, in a realm known as decency and compassion.


  5. Robyn Lynn Reichert permalink
    October 7, 2010 5:19 pm

    Absolutely despicable!!! Disgust is all I feel!


  6. Joey permalink
    October 7, 2010 6:59 pm

    Once again, the poor are made to suffer, forcing them to pay a $75 fee, and in this instance animals suffered and died.. shame shame shame….


  7. justdani permalink
    October 7, 2010 7:42 pm

    Shame on those firefighters who did nothing. I would offer to help it for free, never mind the lousy $75. Absolutely sick. Stupid law also. Why don’t their taxes cover all emergency services. Only in America.


  8. Catherine permalink
    October 7, 2010 7:57 pm

    What the firefighters did (or didn’t do!) was disgraceful! But I have to ask: if it took 2 HOURS for the fire to spread from the barrels to the house as it said in the vid, why the hell were the animals still in the house???? It is not like they didn’t have enough time to get them out…. Something doesn’t add up here…


  9. Laura permalink
    October 8, 2010 12:21 am

    “No members of the family were killed”??!! Our animals are members of our family, not disposable! How can any human being be this heartless? Damn, people make me sick!


  10. Mac permalink
    October 8, 2010 12:56 am

    The owner is quted as saying this:

    “Well, I don’t mind the home. I know it can be replaced, but other things I got in there can’t be,” Gene Cranick said. “Other than that, we’re doing fine, nobody got hurt that’s a good thing, everybody is okay. We’re going to live over this.”

    That came from here:

    So, apparently, the owner did not even consider the animal deaths meant anything, since he said “nobody got hurt.” I mean, I would not have limited my estimation of nobody getting hurt to just human life if I had lost my pets, but then I would not have gotten out of the house without my animals, and I would have run in to get them.


  11. Kevan permalink
    October 8, 2010 1:11 am

    Based on this idea, I think we should all choose what we want to pay. For instance, I would want fire protection, but not pay for schools since I have no children in school. I see no need to pay for any politicians or most other things on my tax bill. I certainly don’t want to pay the police to come to my house and make some lame excuse to shoot my dogs. We should receive a list of options with the fees and check the boxes of the things we want to have and pay for each year. Perhaps then we would see these jackasses get off their high horses and actually start serving the public if their dwindling salaries were based on money collected each year.


  12. Amanda permalink
    October 8, 2010 6:57 am

    What confuses me is that I have seen cases on the news where one animal is in trouble, such as in a hole or trapped on thin ice, and every resource available is there to rescue it. The heroes did not ask who was paying to save the animal. The animal was saved because it is the right thing to do, letting an animal burn alive when the resources are there to save it is disturbing. In addition, if I could save a home, despite $75.00, I would. I personally hope they get sued for this crude act and lose more than $75.00. This is a shame and will change my outlook on viewing fireman as heroes, this particular department should hang their head in shame. I imagine they leave the cat in the tree too!!!


  13. Lester permalink
    October 8, 2010 7:35 am

    This is the face of a “Tea Party America.” No taxes = no government services.


  14. Mike Valentin permalink
    October 8, 2010 7:45 am

    It is a sad day. Humanity has come to dollar signs. A life is not worth anything unless you have money. Don’t firefighters take some knond of oath to protect lives? Yes! Here it is. What the Hell happened to those firefighers in Tennessee? “My duty is to protect those that I serve from whatever danger they may face; whether it be fire, demon, or angel; no matter the danger, I will protect the people to the best of my ability. I am but a servitor of the people; my duty is to those who I serve, and to no one else. I serve The People, without fear, without remorse, without fail. My Duty is to The People. By my Fireman’s Oath, I am bound to protect those who are in danger, those in times of need, those who I would serve.”


    • October 8, 2010 9:31 am

      Thanks for sharing that, Mike. We’re all familiar with “First, do no harm”, but this is the first time I’ve read the firefighter’s oath, and nowhere do I see that protection is contingent upon payment.


  15. gary ransome permalink
    October 8, 2010 10:30 am

    evil and cuel….


  16. Fiona VanSise permalink
    October 8, 2010 11:18 am

    Why couldn’t they have PUT THE FIRE OUTthen BILLED the family for the fee??????????????


  17. October 8, 2010 11:43 am

    I can’t even imagine a Firefighter who wouldn’t tell the city to go “F*** off”, put the fire out, rescue the animals and deal with the consequences later. (Like good Karma consequences.)
    True heroes do that sort of thing. Whimps without morality do not.


  18. Ann permalink
    October 8, 2010 12:19 pm

    Oh this has sickened me to no words can say. They should be brought to trial, taken off the FD. There is not reason they couldn’t save those animals. I do not believe any of the bs they are handing out. If they can’t do their job then they shouldn’t be there. Awful


  19. Ann permalink
    October 8, 2010 12:20 pm

    THey are inhumane and this is animal cruelty, whoever left the animals behind should be made to pay as well. it was nice to have them when they needed them wasn’t it. this is sick.


  20. October 8, 2010 4:21 pm

    I say this with the personal experience as a survivor of a fire that devestated my entire family & killed our beloved cat, Bailey. A fire is tragic enough, you lose the special keepsakes like wedding momentos, outfits you brought your children home from the hospital in, phots albums and gifts you can never replace. To lose a pet, who in many many cases are like a member of your family is more than heartbreaking. You play through the scene in your mind over & over & over and blame yourself atleast in part, thinking you should have done more, you should have gone in again. I know because that’s how we felt & my husband kicked the door in & did go back, sadly we found out later he hid under the bed, he died from smoke inhalation. This family would have had a longtime emotional recovery to deal with, nightmares that follow a complete struggle to pick up the pieces, at best. You fire fighters made an already horrible experience a preventable hell. This repulsive group of sworn civil servants here who stood around and watched these animals and all of the families possessions burn to the ground are a failure to humanity. 75 bucks paid or not, already there, with hoses & water I’d knock you out with the metal hose end before I’d let you pry that hose out of my hands. You firefighters know this, you see this everyday. I hope that you all face the most severe consequences from higher authority imaginable.


  21. Amanda permalink
    October 8, 2010 11:14 pm

    Well since they paid other years and didn’t(Thak God!) have a fire and the one year that they forgot or couldn’t afford it they did, doesn’t this mean that they get a refund/credit for all the other years. I mean hey…. who pays a phone bill but does not use it.

    Also who is the nit-wit that found time during a 911 emergency to look up the status of the bill? What a waste of valuable time and energy….but then again if they didn’t they might have provided a service that they weren’t paid in advance for,so remember if your going to have a fire…pay the $75.00 fee first and for any one planning on getting robbed tommorrow make sure that there isn’t a fee for the police to come out and investigate ro help.

    WARNING TO ALL CITIZENS GET F*#@ OUT OF DODGE………or at least pay the fee so they can afford to have someone go out and check the gas leak at the firehouse!


  22. Amanda permalink
    October 8, 2010 11:20 pm

    Hey here is a buisness idea for someone start a pressure washing company and charge $50/year for a retainer for fire extiguishing serve and undercut the town by $25.00 since clearly they are completely useless and totally unreliable. There could be a excellent chance to make some good money here, and save lives. Not to mention show them what they can really do with there hoses!


  23. October 9, 2010 12:09 am

    I would sue — and win. EVERYONE has a responsibility to mitigate damages. Theirs was NOT the action required by law, NOT what a reasonable person would do.

    As to how they get paid, it’s simple enough: They can pay the $75 up-front, or pay a $1500 bill (enforced by lien against their property) if they don’t pay the annual “insurance” fee. Problem solved. But to arrive and then do nothing? Beyond furious about that.

    One has to be somewhere on the substandard side of human to stand there and watch and do nothing. None of them had the decency to say “I”ll pay the $75 — now let’s go do our job”?

    Yep, I’d sue, and win… and demand that those who made that call be fired. Mr. Mayor, you defend that action? Your days are numbered, sir. Despicable. Truly despicable.


  24. Mike Valentin permalink
    October 9, 2010 8:23 am

    FIREMAN’S OATH: “My duty is to protect those that I serve, The People , from whatever danger they may face; whether it be fire, demon, or angel; no matter the danger, I will protect the people to the best of my ability. I am but a servitor of the people; my duty is to those who I serve, and to no one else. I am not bound to protecting only mortals or angels; demons also fall under my protection. I serve The People, without fear, without remorse, without fail. My Duty is to The People. Those who live , those who fall underneath its many districts, those who would hide and cower in buildings. By my Fireman’s Oath, I am bound to protect those who are in danger, those in times of need, those who I would serve.
    Upon my Honor as a Firefighter, this is my Creed.
    1.f – All Firemen are expected to save all kittens in case of building fires or very tall trees.” BORROWED


  25. benny edmondson permalink
    October 9, 2010 10:19 am

    i am a 31 yr career firefighter i have been a volunteer all them yrs people ask what pay do we get the only pay we receive is when the family comes to u and says thanks for doing what u could what these firefighter,s or mayor done is pathetic i may have been arrested but i would have took a truck and done what this is pure bull shit 75.00 to help pay the dept i am with was founded in early 60,s our job is to serve and to protect read the above fire mans oath ///(FIREMAN’S OATH: “My duty is to protect those that I serve, The People , from whatever danger they may face; whether it be fire, demon, or angel; no matter the danger, I will protect the people to the best of my ability. I am but a servitor of the people; my duty is to those who I serve, and to no one else. I am not bound to protecting only mortals or angels; demons also fall under my protection. I serve The People, without fear, without remorse, without fail. My Duty is to The People. Those who live , those who fall underneath its many districts, those who would hide and cower in buildings. By my Fireman’s Oath, I am bound to protect those who are in danger, those in times of need, those who I would serve.
    Upon my Honor as a Firefighter, this is my Creed.)// to protect those that i serve all of them should be removed from the dept and the mayor should be hung


  26. yvonne kilgour permalink
    October 11, 2010 1:39 am

    So easy…put the fire out….then bill them…so simple….i wonder if it was there’s or family members if they would of stood by…unbelievable …..


  27. Logic permalink
    October 19, 2010 9:54 pm

    Pay your fees to get the services. It’s as simple as that.

    Just because the Superbowl is on now doesn’t mean I can call the cable company and demand that they give me free cable to watch the game.


    • Colleen permalink
      October 22, 2010 9:17 am

      There is a big difference in “demanding” free cable so you can watch your football game while munching chicken wings, and having fire fighters do the “right thing”. If they aren’t losing sleep at night over this, then they cleary of low consciousness. Like you, “Logic”.


  28. February 2, 2014 12:49 am

    It’s very important to choose insurance companies. I really like Go Auto Insurance and choose them as my first choice.



  1. This is disgusting and unbelievable

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