Tennessee Firefighters Let Home Burn Over Subscription Issue

Reprinted with Permission

OBION COUNTY, Tenn. - Imagine your home catches fire but the local fire department won't respond, then watches it burn. That's exactly what happened to a local family tonight.


A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.

The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn't do anything to stop his house from burning.

Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.

The mayor said if homeowners don't pay, they're out of luck.

This fire went on for hours because garden hoses just wouldn't put it out. It wasn't until that fire spread to a neighbor's property, that anyone would respond.

Turns out, the neighbor had paid the fee.

"I thought they'd come out and put it out, even if you hadn't paid your $75, but I was wrong," said Gene Cranick.

Because of that, not much is left of Cranick's house.

They called 911 several times, and initially the South Fulton Fire Department would not come.

The Cranicks told 9-1-1 they would pay firefighters, whatever the cost, to stop the fire before it spread to their house.

"When I called I told them that. My grandson had already called there and he thought that when I got here I could get something done, I couldn't," Paulette Cranick.

It was only when a neighbor's field caught fire, a neighbor who had paid the county fire service fee, that the department responded. Gene Cranick asked the fire chief to make an exception and save his home, the chief wouldn't.

We asked him why.

He wouldn't talk to us and called police to have us escorted off the property. Police never came but firefighters quickly left the scene. Meanwhile, the Cranick home continued to burn.

We asked the mayor of South Fulton if the chief could have made an exception.

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

Friends and neighbors said it's a cruel and dangerous city policy but the Cranicks don't blame the firefighters themselves. They blame the people in charge.

"They're doing their job," Paulette Cranick said of the firefighters. "They're doing what they are told to do. It's not their fault."

To give you an idea of just how intense the feelings got in this situation, soon after the fire department returned to the station, the Obion County Sheriff's Department said someone went there and assaulted one of the firefighters.

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Brits: Are justifiably proud of the accomplishments of their past citizens.
Americans: Are justifiably proud of the accomplishments of their present citizens.
Canadians: Prattle on about how some of those great Americans were once Canadian.
Aussies: Waffle on about how some of their past citizens were once Outlaw Pommies, but none of that matters after several beers....LOL

do you seriously have a point? No, Irving isn't obligate to provide services in any other city or county but it is not untold that many cities or counties provide services in nearby areas for no additional costs. 


I do not understand why those few of you do not understand the scope of what the rest of the country does. 


We all look out for our fellow citizens and try to make sure we all are safe.


I'm saddened to think that you all in Tennessee have been oppressed to the point that you feel a human life has a price. I am besides myself wondering how to contemplate this situation and do not know where to go. I am far from a politician and with that, this whole scenario makes no sense.  


What would it take for people of Tennessee to realize how much you all have when comes to the power of change. Your local government is not your boss. You are free to choose your own lives. It's guaranteed in The Constitution.


What does it have to take to rally you all for change from a corrupt government to a real democratic society???

Ok, so I have let this go and talked about this amongst peers and there is an common reaction. I am sorry those of you have no inert compassion for your fellow human. This is all so very insane. Why are you all so against helping someone else??? thats the messed up part. 


The whole situation is failed with the current stipulations. The local fire department crew is as much at fault as is the local government. Unless the local "fire department" are total mules, then they are also to blame. 


As an American, if I seen someone's house burning down, I would do all I could to help; paid or not paid. 


It is obvious that since the government was instated by the people, the people fail. Fail big time. how could you people be accepting of such bizarre and inhumane measures? Seriously? I'm now wondering how much of the yearly payment is paid off to the lobbyists for this article.


Does the common person really understand what is going on and realize how this all seems weird to the outside world?


This is a reason and room to change, but the people of the are have to desire a better life before this can happen.


Dan, I knew there was a reason I liked Texas so much! Common sense abounds. Nobody will answer my question though (meaning the folks on this thread that are happy to have seen the home burn down). Why was it OK for the FD to allow folks to pay after they responded in the past, but not this time? Seems like a simple question to me?

The other question I've asked: If a homeowner in their respective city or district hasn't paid taxes, why should they put the fire out? Isn't it the same logic used to not put out the fire for lack of paying the subscription fire tax?  

If you're ever out in Sonoma, CA, look me up, and I'll buy you a cold one!

In reply to your first question, I don't have a straight answer.  I can say that if they do allow the person to pay after the call, it's going to be a lot (and I do mean a lot) more than the $75 subscription fee, because the fire department can't run on $75 a call, and nobody is going to pay (or rather, not enough people are going to pay) $75 now for a service they probably won't use when they can just as easily pay after they use it.  But perhaps a post paid model is something this department needs to think about, while they try to figure out how to best provide 100% coverage while meeting the budget in a manner which is fiscally responsible (which includes charging enough just as much as it includes not charging too much.)

As far as your second question goes, this one is easier...  If you don't pay the subscription, that's your choice, and you don't get service.  There is no penalty, except the loss of service.  If you don't pay taxes, you still get tax based services, we just send debt collectors and charge late fees and other fines, and eventually if the sitauation warrants, we throw you in jail for not paying the government what you are required to pay.

It would be nice if we could fight fires for free, but alas, we can't.

Even in a volunteer department, the fire protection we provide comes at a cost to taxpayers.  The residents of this county decided they didn't want to force homeowners to pay for a fire service if they didn't feel they would need it.  This guy gambled and lost.


There is reason and room to change: the government and the idiot residents of this county could figure out that fires can happen to anybody and that everybody needs fire protection and thus should be charged a tax which pays for the equipment needed to provide fire protection to every resident of the county.  But that's not what they want and that's not what they have, and this guy CHOSE not to pay for fire protection.


The money has to come from somewhere.  There is obviously a problem when somebody's house burns down because they didn't pay a subscription, and the fire department should probably look into post-paid options (or, as I would advocate, TAXES), but they CAN NOT and SHOULD NOT give the service away for free.  Doing such is a quick way to go bankrupt, and then who is left to put out the fires?  Nobody.


The fire service is not free.  I can't comprehend how any firefighter can fail to understand that.  You put on turnout gear every day that costs thousands of dollars, and then you hop in a quarter-million dollar truck.  Where is this equipment going to come from if we give our services away for free, without taxes or subscription fees or post incident billing?  Nowhere.  Money doesn't grow on trees, not even in the fire service.

"do you seriously have a point? No, Irving isn't obligate to provide services in any other city or county but it is not untold that many cities or counties provide services in nearby areas for no additional costs."

I have a hard time believing this.  Nobody gets fire protection without paying for it.  It's in the tax bill somewhere, whether its a separate line or clumped in with city/town taxes, county taxes, or state taxes, the money to pay for the fire truck that is going to respond to your house is on your tax bill somewhere.  And if it's not then there is some other sort of agreement like a subscription service where only those that pay get service.  Fire departments have a hard enough time as it is, without giving services away for free.



Thanks for the reply. Nobody has a straight answer, because the issue of putting out the fire for a non-paid homeowner is up to the discretion of the Fire Chief.  The former chief allowed residents to pay the $75 post incident, because he realized the inherent danger of allowing a structure to burn unimpeded.  This guys house wasn't next to any structures, so they made an example out of him. But the simple fact of allowing the chemicals into the air, by allowing the home to burn is a crime in itself based on Air quality control laws.


And as for as my second question...yes...I still get tax based services, which I can pay a day LATE...but the FD still has to do its job. 

No, it's not for FREE..................but if I pay my taxes, and live next door to someone who doesn't and his home is on fire, you better put that fire out to save our homes. I don't get how people don't understand that. We tried that system of selective firefighting back in the day...........that's how the volunteer fire company was born. Even back then, if a home was on fire, the fire co. collected money on the scene, then started suppression. The day you don't put water on the fire, because you didn't collect $75 from one idiot, is a sad day indeed.

The department has allowed homeowners in the past to pay AFTER they received services. Also, in YOUR city, do you keep a record of Tax Scofflaws, so you don't extinguish a fire on a home that's not had taxes kept up to date...


Herb, it doesn't matter what may or may not have occurred in the past, there was NO duty to act by the FD. As for tax records in my city, no we don't keep tract, because the fire is IN the city where we DO have a duty to act....it is really just that simple.

Wow Ben,


You, Jack, Art, and I all agree on the same issue on multiple threads....gonna check the moon and stars here for some alignment shift.

I would be afraid to hear the rules about human life being involved


Life trumps money and since there was no life threats here, there is no duty to save property.

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