Before you comment read my whole post...

 

Well the story has broke again. I made this prediction in the many threads from the last fire in 2010 that got the FFN boards lit up. History repeats itself in the fire service.  The homeowner this time admits they knew the past story of "Pay for Spray" in 2010 and about the $75.00 fee. They said quote, "never thought it would happen to them."

 

Here is the news video: http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/local/Home-burns-while-firefighters-...

 

In my opinion, the FD who refuses to put out the fire is doing the right thing. As hard as that may seem, if the FD provides the service for free, then nobody in the county will pay.  This story has been going on for many years. For those who don't know, the county has NO fire department, the residents know this. Many move there because it is cheaper to live there.  Past studies have been done to reccommend providing fire protection services but it will cost the homewowner more in their county taxes. The county administrators have decided to keep it "Pay for Spray" meaning a neighboring fire department who does NOT have any jurisdictional requirement to respond to your county residence, is allowed to offer their services to each individual homeowner for $75.00 per year.  If you pay the $75.00 subscription service, you will get a response and mitigation from the neighboring FD. This is not mutual aid, this is not automatic aid. This is paying for fire protection from a contractor.  If you don't pay the fee, the FD has told everyone numerous times, no pay = no service.

 

In my opinion the lack of FD action keeps the integrity of the lousy system in place. The people who pay are getting services when needed and they are NOT subsidizing their neighbors lack of payment. The fire department unfortunately gets caught up in the media and the "passion police" when the story of "they just watched it burn"  After the last story unfolded, many neighboring chiefs came out and tried to explain how small of a budget this fire department has, one chief even mentioned the fire chief sometimes, empty's the soda machine to buy fuel for his trucks with change.

 

So instead of continuously being the bad guy, I suggest the Mayor and the Fire Chief tell the county administrators that they are done offering subscriptions next year. Therefore no more subscription service to the county and the COUNTY will now have to fund their own protection services. The administrators will then have to assess a fire tax to their residents to fund either a volunteer fire department(s) or pay for services from another FD for every county residence.

 

Time to end the subsciption mess...... it is a black eye to the one's who have to enforce the rules and the integrity.

 

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The facts:

 

1)  The SFFD has NO legal responsibility to fight fires in the unincorporated areas of Obion County.

2)  The County will NOT fund fire protection through taxes or otherwise.

3)  The citizens of the county have voted down a tax for fire protection, repeatedly.

4)  The SFFD, through an agreement with the county, has set an annual subscription fee of $75 for residents in the unincorporated areas that wanted fire protection.

5)  The homeowners in this case ADMITTED they didn't pay the fee because they thought it would never happen to them.  From all reports the homeowners weren't even upset with the fire department.

 

So we can go round and round and round and ROUND about this.  But unless we live there and move to effect change this system will most likely stay in place and we won't hear anything about it until the next home owner that decided not to pay has their house burn down.

 

As for me I am done here...enjoy the battle. 

Given that the  911 dispatchers in Obion County and the eight municipal Fire Chiefs in the county have received either threats or hate (e)mail [Chief Bob Reavis, Hornbeak FD], it would seem to be the perception of either Obion County residents, or residents of the cities therein.

I would also point out that the black eye this fire department gave the Fire Service is shared by all Firefighters, even if just a little.

There are several other choices out there which are better practices, one of which is  to repsond out to the county and simply bill the county for fighting the fire, rather than the homeowner, for providing a service the county has refused to provide, for whatever reason. Then the cities and the county can either work out an agreement, or it'll be on those entities to take it to court and the state will dictate how rural fire protection is provided in unincorporated areas of the county. If the county wants to then recoup what it paid to the city fire departments fire fire protection service, that's between the county and its residents.

The South Fulton FD is one of only three out of the eight Fire Departments in Obion County that have a subscription fire protection fee, so there is no consistent policy for the residents of the county, so depending on which municipal fire department shows up, depends on if your gets fought, or not. If this homeowner lived outside of Hornbeak, instead of outside of South Fulton, The fire would have been fought before it even got to his house (the fire started in an outbuilding and was allowed to spread to the house while the fire department watched).

As to my tow truck analogy, I think you are intentionally pretending to be thick. I never said in advance of the incident prompting the call for help, but in advance of that help being provided - whether fire suppression or a tow.

Greenman

Here's an analogy: It's like having a car with minimum liability insurance broken down on the side of a highway with a narrow shoulder on a blind curve at 0200, and the wrecker driver won't tow your car until you pay the $75 tow fee in advance in cash when all he has is his debit card with him. Should the wrecker driver tow the vehicle and keep it in the yard until the driver pays, or let another car hit it?? After all the driver should have gotten full coverage before he broke down

 

Sorry, very bad analogy here and doesn't fit. First off, it isn't the tow company's responsibility to leave the car on the highway or to tow it. If the driver calls a particular company, then you now have an individual agreement to pay. If it is policy the person pays up front and can't, then there is no legal binding that the car still be towed. Cars are left stranded on the highway all the time and when they are towed, it is because the LE agency called to have them removed. At that point the vehicle is held in the yard until the customer pays.

 

And reality is, having someone pay up front isn't the issue, the person would call a dispatcher who would determine if a tow is warranted and terms. Yes, a towing company can run a debit card too, this isn't like Big Wally driving his personal tow truck around working only for cash.

 

So really, there is nothing requiring that services should be rendered in such a case if payment can't be made. It isn't the tow company's problem if the vehicle remains stranded. The vehicle gets towed if LE calls the company contracted and at that point the vehicle gets towed because one it holds a contract with the govt entity and two can hold vehicle and charge a storage and tow fee or they keep the car.

 

And as for accidents, If no insurance, the vehicle would be towed per govt contract to storage. Many times though we would drop a car at a body shop and the shop is charged.

 

Point being, the analogy is not the same as you want to make. The FD here had no obligation to render services to those who don't pay the subscription, just as there is no obligation for a tower to move such a stranded vehicle. If you have been following along and in previous discussions, you would know that trying to bill after the fact was tried but the FD was lucky to recoup anything.

 

Bottom line is public perception isn't the biggest issue. Why should the city residents who pay taxes see their costs raised for services because the service is rendering things for FREE to those who don't pay a subscription, or even a tax. What about that perception? There is no MA, no AA, no contract with the county, all you have is a subscription service meaning individual contracts. And you care about the public perception of those who choose to live in such a county with such a system???

"Given that the  911 dispatchers in Obion County and the eight municipal Fire Chiefs in the county have received either threats or hate (e)mail [Chief Bob Reavis, Hornbeak FD], it would seem to be the perception of either Obion County residents, or residents of the cities therein."

No, it would be the perception of a few deranged individuals who think calling/emailing (and making) threats is an acceptable method of expressing one's opinion. 

Also, since they are (supposedly) threatening Chiefs that had nothing to do with this incident or the underlying issue, clearly the ability to think rationally and make logical choices is severely impacted in Obion County (and elsewhere, it would seem).

"I would also point out that the black eye this fire department gave the Fire Service is shared by all Firefighters, even if just a little."

Not really, certainly no more than any other circumstance where ignorance is coin of the realm and moneychangers are standing by, exchanging facts for ignorance.

But...since this idea of a "black eye...is shared by all Firefighters..." then maybe, "we" should start somewhere more fundamental and more problematic:

No background checks, no physicals, little or no training, leadership by popularity, social clubs, social members, incompetence, misappropriation of funds, reckless driving in POVs, rolling over tankers, exterior firefighters.

These above issues reflect more broadly and more often on the fire service in general, and the volunteer fire service in particular.  Focusing on these issues, rather than on an issue that has been decided (so far as we know, at least) twice by those people to whom it matters most, namely; the residents (the 'mud hut' people) of the unincorporated area of Obion County, outside of South Fulton.

Nobody here disagrees that the system in Obion County is stupid, nor does anyone disagree that it needs to be changed, and there is no shortage of ideas to make it work (better).  But the residents of Obion County have had their opportunity to fund their own fire department and chose NOT to.  End of story.

Greenman, now you really ARE advocating for a "protection racket".  SFFD has already tried post-fire billing, and in most cases were unable to collect.  One of the key reasons - they had no legal standing to fight fires on non-subscriber property, therefore they had no legal basis on which to bill, and therefore neither the property owner nor the owner's insurance company has the slightest legal obligation to pay ANY post-fire bill, let alone a costly one.

 

Your "rift" between the county residents and the city FD is imaginary.  No such rift exists. 

 

"Good will" doesn't pay the bills.  SFFD can't afford to give away free fire protection in the county and to bankrupt their city department to take care of property owners who have voted over and over to have no county fire protection.

 

When you use the "protection racket" perjorative, you're buying into a public misperception.  We should be working to correct that misperception with facts, not using baseless perjoratives and then belatedly claiming that we don't believe it.

 

SFFD's ONLY real alternative is to stop responding to county fires, period.  THAT would be the real "mean-spirited" action, as it would punish everyone including the majority that pay the subscription rather than resulting in two - count 'em - two non-subscriber homes burning - homes that may not have been savable anyway.

 

The bottom line - Obion County's residents have the right to vote on their tax levels and whether or not they want tax-funded fire protection.  Calling a neighboring city's FD a "protection racket" due to their good-hearted provision of fire protection for people that would otherwise have none is unwarranted and inappropriate, regardless of who does it.

 

I'm beginning to wonder if you actually researched all of the facts here before posting...

 

There is NO "black eye" here, only uninformed misperceptions.

 

Some of the city fire departments in Obion County are funded well enough to give away free fire protection to their county neighbors.  South Fulton's FD barely makes ends meet while protecting only their city taxpayers.   What other FD's can afford to do isn't pertinent in this situation.

 

"No consistent policy" - not so.  There is a consistent policy by Obion County to avoid a tax-supported FD.  State law prohibits new FDs from forming without local government support. 

 

South Fulton has a consistent - and well-known - policy that they will not protect county property without a subscription, as they can't afford for their taxpayers (around 1,500 people) to subsidize the much larger population (around 35,000 people) of Obion County.

 

The city FD's don't have a consistent policy for county fires, but there is no reason for them to have one.  Each of them is a seperate jurisdiction with the right to make its own rules, including the rules for how they choose to relate with property owners OUTSIDE their jurisdiction in unincorporated areas of Obion County.

As for your tow truck analogy, your claim is bogus, as is the tow truck analogy.  You are talking about towing a vehicle that has already broken down.  Unless the tow truck company sold subscriptions prior to the breakdown, your analogy is still not pertinent.  Your inability to create a pertinent analogy is the issue here.

You are consistent in your use of unfounded perjoratives here - both the "protection racket" statement and your confusion of my disagreement with you being some kind of pretense.

AAA charges a subscriber fee to be a member. If you have paid your annual dues and you need service a AAA tow truck will come out and provide services for free.  If you didn't pay your dues, it was late, or you just thought it would never happen to you, you will NOT recieve services unless you PAY for them.  The difference here is it is just a car, and you haven't lost everything you own. 

 

You see I worked in that business for a while, and many times when a person had a car towed and scraped up enough to "get it off the street" .... and they couldn't afford the repairs or the additional storage charges the towing company got to keep your car.

 

If a person can't afford $75 for fire protection, they most likely didn't pay for fire insurance, therefore the city FD, town FD, county FD, whoever decides to place a lean on the unpaid extinguishment bill on a burn't out property would in fact be inheriting the demo costs and cleanup to sell it. The homeowner will decide to walk away from it all. 

 

If you don't pay for the subscription fee, then I suggest running a garden hose through the house and hope they have paid their electric bill to supply the homemade sprinkler system.

I assure you Mike that it is not Australia, In my state Victoria we have Shires (counties) and I pay rates (taxes) but not for police or fire.  I also pay a fire levy on my house insurance and the fire brigade is funded from the state and the insurance council.  This is soon to be changed in this state to a small levy on the rates as that way everybody pays.  We only have 2 fire services in the state, The mets (Metropolitan Fire and Emergency Services), full time paid firefighters who cover the City of Greater Melbourne which used to consist of 26 Shires, and the Country Fire Authority which covers the rest of the state and has a mixture of paid and volunteer firefighters the majority being volunteers as I am.  I will not get in to the argument about South Fulton because it is not my country, but here we get called out we put it out and if the householder is not insured he gets a bill from the Fire Service HQ (but I have never heard of anyone paying up).  My brigade has been supplied a firetruck, equipment, PPC and training, A replacement fire station will be supplied by the Authority in the next 5 years.  We raise money to get extra vehicles and equipment which eventually (in most cases) are taken over by and replaced (when needed) by the Authority and we have fuel cards for the vehicles that are paid for by the Authority.  Our income tax pays for most of my state and we have a GST (Goods and Services Tax ) of 10% on almost everything.  Our police are a state organization and we have an Ambulance Service for which I pay an annual subscription.  So you see, we do pay taxes but we get a lot back for what we pay, there is also a small levy on wages and salaries for medicare which works well.

Having read this entire thread, maybe I'm missing something (it happens).

It seems that someone has determined that $75 annually is a reasonable fee to charge residents in order to cover costs involved with a city FD to mitigate fires.

Why not simply make it a mandatory fee? Add it to the taxes that everyone pays.

Yeah, I know, they don't want to raise taxes. They're already collecting the fee, so it ends up costing no more to those who are paying the fee, anyway. It's not raising taxes, it's only incorporating those subscription fees into the taxes. It would simply end all the related bad FD PR and save those homes that would otherwise be wasted due to bad decision-making on the part of the homeowner. It seems like a simple solution to me and everyone wins.

What am I missing?

What am I missing?

 

The simple fact this has been brought up and shot down by the residents and governing body of the said county. The governing body doesn't have the stones to implement the fee for everyone and the residents have stated they don't want such fees imposed but rather a subscription service in place.

You are confusing two different entities as a single "They".  There is no single "They" involved. 

 

The South Fulton FD, a CITY fire department, has no legal authority to make the fee mandatory in the unincorporated area near their city.  Obion County is the governing body in the unincorporated area of the county, and they have been voted into office expressly to do the will of the people, which it to have NO county fire tax and no county fire department.  The problem with what you suggest is that it would make the firefighting fee mandatory and would prevent county taxpayers from opting out if they wish.

 

They have the legal right to opt out.  A third-party news media outlet who uses inaccurate facts to sensationalize this as being the FD's fault is frankly not the FD's problem.  The bad PR is artificially created by the news media.

 

People who own property in Obion County have the legal right to not pay the SFFD subscription and to legally have NO fire protection.  That is what the taxpayers of Obion County want, and they are getting EXACTLY what they want. 

 

The residents of Obion County have decided that they don't want to pay to force other residents to have fire protection they don't want.   Once again, they are getting EXACTLY what they want.

 

From a homeowner's (taxpayer's) standpoint, I see it thusly: I'm paying (insert amount here) taxes, plus a $75 fire protection fee every year. It is suggested that the two amounts be combined so that everyone pays and no properties are left unprotected. As a tax-payer, I'm going to be against this? What logical sense does this make?

Nothing would change, other than no more homes burning to the ground while firefighters watch. The homeowners still have fire protection. The county still has the contract with the city fire department. Taxes have not gone up. There is no need to form a county fire department. Everything is still as it was, except for the bad PR and continuing faulty representation by the media. Again, what am I missing?

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