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Firefighters let house burn to the ground

post #1 of 109
Thread Starter 
http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/local...104052668.html

Apparently the property owner didn't pay the $75 annual fee for fire protection. His house caught fire and when he called E911, they told him that he wasn't covered for fire protection, even though he pleaded to pay them the $75 to get them out there (he hadn't paid the fee for 10 years). When the fire spread to his neighbors property, fire trucks arrived and put out the fire on that property because that neighbor had paid the fee. Then watched the man's house burn down.

I saw an interview with the owner where he stated that there were other homes that burned down in his area because they hadn't paid the fee. He knew the risk, but he's mad because they didn't let him "pay as you go".

No person was hurt, although he lost his dogs and (in his words) "a cat".

Who is responsible here?
post #2 of 109
Well sounds like extortion to me - mafia style????? I'm not sure who is to blame nor what the outcome will be. I'm sure the guy will sue. Of course on the other hand if the guy had not paid the fee for 10 yrs and knew the risk, then he is more to blame.

Sorta like regular house insurance - you don't pay it or don't have it, then you won't get reimbursed if your house is robbed or a fire, etc. So maybe its more the fault of the guy then of the fire department.

Wonder if he DID have house insurance and did it cover fire?
post #3 of 109
I would think that the fee would be part of being a property/home owner just as any other bill such as utility, insurance, etc. If you don't pay your bills you get cut off from services - quite simple really. Many people pay insurance for years and never have to make a claim. Some would say that paying insurance if you don't use it is dumb - that is until something happens and you need it.

It's a shame the house burned down but the owner surely knew the risks. Hopefully he had home insurance and they'll at least give him something.
post #4 of 109
I try to live by the golden rule and certainly would not want the possible deaths of living creatures on my conscience . Maybe the guy was less fortunate in the $$ and the extra fee was something he could not do... Or maybe on principle since Almost all homeowners insurance is Primarily fire insurance he deemed the other as one noted Extortionist .

I would put 25% blame on him for not paying. One can always collect later animals are Living being s and cannot be replaced. Thus IMHO 75% of the blame is on the dept.

I would question who would be at fault if someone DIED of human origin?
post #5 of 109
I never knew there were places where the fire department only came out if you paid an annual fee. Our fire departments are funded by county or city taxes, so they respond to all fire calls.

In fact, all of our fire departments also house our EMT vehicles, seeing as the closest hospital to DH and I is over 20 minutes away. I can't imagine being told that the department wouldn't respond to an emergency because of a fee.
post #6 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momofmany View Post

No person was hurt, although he lost his dogs and (in his words) "a cat".

Who is responsible here?
Certianly not the dogs and cat! I think its a horrible horrible tragedy! The penalty for not paying a fee is allowing your home to burn down --- and any pets that may be inside??? IMO, that is a stupid law. Ranks right up there with cruel and unusual punishment.

Of course it's not right that the family didn't pay their fair share. There are far better ways to deal with that.
post #7 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharky View Post
I would question who would be at fault if someone DIED of human origin?
I wonder that, too. Would they really leave a person to die?

I can't believe they'd really leave a fire going, anyways. Tennessee must be very humid. Here, and in several regions, you don't risk letting a fire go unless it is very much a controlled fire and there has been recent rain - otherwise you risk setting off a huge fire.
post #8 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by emrldsky View Post
I never knew there were places where the fire department only came out if you paid an annual fee. Our fire departments are funded by county or city taxes, so they respond to all fire calls.

In fact, all of our fire departments also house our EMT vehicles, seeing as the closest hospital to DH and I is over 20 minutes away. I can't imagine being told that the department wouldn't respond to an emergency because of a fee.
Honestly neither can I. I live in Canada and those services are part of where our tax dollars go. Yes, we generally pay more taxes than in the US but obviously it is worthwhile to know that we won't have to watch our house burn down with or without our pets. That is just totally unimaginable in my mind.
post #9 of 109
Hmm, perhaps instead they should have had him agree that he would pay the total cost of their response. It can be several thousand dollars, but at least his house would have been saved.

Have him sign an agreement when they show up with the fire truck. Not sure it it would hold up in court, as he could argue that the contract was signed under duress.

Moral of the story - pay your stoopid fees.
post #10 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by rahma View Post
Moral of the story - pay your stoopid fees.
How would you feel if your next door neighbor (if you don't have one, imagine that you do) didn't pay their fees, their house caught on fire - was left so that the fire did get quite intense at some point and that fire jumped over onto your home? Sure, the fire department would put your fire out. But you'd then have fire and water damage to take care of.

I'm glad that this guy's neighbors are angry at the fire department, too. What they did for the sake of teaching someone a lesson was highly irresponsible.
post #11 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by emrldsky View Post
I never knew there were places where the fire department only came out if you paid an annual fee. Our fire departments are funded by county or city taxes, so they respond to all fire calls.

In fact, all of our fire departments also house our EMT vehicles, seeing as the closest hospital to DH and I is over 20 minutes away. I can't imagine being told that the department wouldn't respond to an emergency because of a fee.
Me either! This is unspeakably awful! I've always thought of the fire department and firefighters being on call, ready to go to any fire and put the fire out. They're considered heroes. Never in my life have I heard of having to pay an annual fee! Where is this?
post #12 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by strange_wings View Post
How would you feel if your next door neighbor (if you don't have one, imagine that you do) didn't pay their fees, their house caught on fire - was left so that the fire did get quite intense at some point and that fire jumped over onto your home? Sure, the fire department would put your fire out. But you'd then have fire and water damage to take care of.

I'm glad that this guy's neighbors are angry at the fire department, too. What they did for the sake of teaching someone a lesson was highly irresponsible.
Isn't there a point where we have to have people take on their own responsibility, rather than keep bailing everyone out? On a grander scale, we all pay for people's irresponsibility.

The state of minnesota requires that everyone who drives has car insurance. They don't, however, pull people over at random to see if everyone is insured. It's not the state's fault when an uninsured driver plows into me and I have to take them to court to get compensated. It's the fault of the uninsured driver. They're the ones who caused the mess.

At a certain point, you have to let people fail on their own and pay the consequences (good God, I'm sounding like a republican. Be still my bleeding liberal heart )
post #13 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by nanner View Post
Me either! This is unspeakably awful! I've always thought of the fire department and firefighters being on call, ready to go to any fire and put the fire out. They're considered heroes. Never in my life have I heard of having to pay an annual fee! Where is this?
You pay an annual fee through your taxes. If departments are funded by a township and you live outside that township, and as such, don't pay taxes to the township, but still want to be covered, isn't it the right of the department to ask that they be compensated? Why should anyone get a service for free when others are paying for it?
post #14 of 109
Thread Starter 
During the interview, he did say that his insurance will cover as much as he paid into it. He didn't say it specifically, but it sounded like he didn't cover 100% of his house through insurance.

I fault the homeowner. He stated that he knew of other cases where fires burnt down homes where the owner didn't pay the fee. His negligence caused the death of his animals. How far should the obligation go from local government services?
post #15 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by rahma View Post
Isn't there a point where we have to have people take on their own responsibility, rather than keep bailing everyone out? On a grander scale, we all pay for people's irresponsibility.
Oh don't get me wrong, I agree he should be billed for any services rendered. But leaving a house fire unattended in a inhabited neighborhood is beyond stupid.

The point is: If your house burned down because the fire department weren't monitoring a nearby fire - how would you feel? I would think you'd be P.O.'ed.

Maybe people that don't live in areas that go through 6+ month droughts won't get this, though.
post #16 of 109
You know if this guy doesn't pay his annual fee for 10 years, 5 years, 3 years, etc., then his house catches on fire and the fire dept. says "oh that's ok we need to do our job and put his fire out to save his house". That sets a precident.
Do you think other people are not going to catch on and think "gee, he didn't pay his $75 annual fee, and they STILL came out to put his fire out. I've got better things to do with my $75, I'm not going to pay either, because they'll still come out and put the fire out. Why should I spend my $75 on that?"

I'll bet you people in that county who care about their homes will be paying their $75 fee from now on.

Sometimes an example needs to be set. I for one am sick of all the cry-babies who think everything should be free and they are somehow entitled just by living in the USA.
post #17 of 109
It sounds like this homeowner knew the risks, knew the rules, and decided to take the gamble and not pay the fee. The results are that he lost the bet, and therefore lost his home. Now the authorities should charge him with child and animal endangerment, and even animal cruelty, since this act of poor judgment put his grandchild in danger and caused the death of his animals. He may have a difficult time collecting on the insurance, since he repeatedly refused to pay the fee that would have ensured that the firefighters actually try to put out the fire.

I really feel bad that innocent animals lost their lives....although I have no sympathy for this man...he gambled and lost. Hope that $750 was worth it.
post #18 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by emrldsky View Post
I never knew there were places where the fire department only came out if you paid an annual fee. Our fire departments are funded by county or city taxes, so they respond to all fire calls.
Here too at least in the City. Not sure about townships outside of the city though. Someone has to pay, so it's likely added into their property taxes I would think.
post #19 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookie-poo View Post
It sounds like this homeowner knew the risks, knew the rules, and decided to take the gamble and not pay the fee. The results are that he lost the bet, and therefore lost his home. Now the authorities should charge him with child and animal endangerment, and even animal cruelty, since this act of poor judgment put his grandchild in danger and caused the death of his animals. He may have a difficult time collecting on the insurance, since he repeatedly refused to pay the fee that would have ensured that the firefighters actually try to put out the fire.

I really feel bad that innocent animals lost their lives....although I have no sympathy for this man...he gambled and lost. Hope that $750 was worth it.
That pretty well says it all.
post #20 of 109
I could not stand by and watch someone's house burn down without trying to help. Whether he had paid the fee or not. To me, this is the same as a hospital turning away someone because they don't have insurance.
post #21 of 109
I can understand not responding to the call because of jurisdiction and such considerations, but; to be on the scene and watching the fire just sounds too much like good ole' fashioned "protection racket" thuggery to me.
post #22 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippymjp View Post
I can understand not responding to the call because of jurisdiction and such considerations, but; to be on the scene and watching the fire just sounds too much like good ole' fashioned "protection racket" thuggery to me.
...

I can imagine the homeowners insurance will be taking legal action against this fire dept....
post #23 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pookie-poo View Post
It sounds like this homeowner knew the risks, knew the rules, and decided to take the gamble and not pay the fee. The results are that he lost the bet, and therefore lost his home. Now the authorities should charge him with child and animal endangerment, and even animal cruelty, since this act of poor judgment put his grandchild in danger and caused the death of his animals. He may have a difficult time collecting on the insurance, since he repeatedly refused to pay the fee that would have ensured that the firefighters actually try to put out the fire.

I really feel bad that innocent animals lost their lives....although I have no sympathy for this man...he gambled and lost. Hope that $750 was worth it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by nurseangel View Post
I could not stand by and watch someone's house burn down without trying to help. Whether he had paid the fee or not. To me, this is the same as a hospital turning away someone because they don't have insurance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skippymjp View Post
I can understand not responding to the call because of jurisdiction and such considerations, but; to be on the scene and watching the fire just sounds too much like good ole' fashioned "protection racket" thuggery to me.
Talk about differing opinions, but I agree 100% with all of them. Basically I see all sides of the coin (3?) and each has its own valid argument.
post #24 of 109
If this happened in my area Id be flipping a lid but then again we dont have to pay fees for fire or ambulance service we just donate every year to the company that is closest to our house. That being said obviously that guys area the fire department is run differently if he didnt pay his fees then he shouldnt get the service, its no different then if you dont pay your electric bill IMO. Was is stupid and irresponsible on both his and the fire depts part...Oh Yeah it was stupid the guy should have coughed up the money in the first place and the fire dept should have put the fire out but billed him for their services not just the fee.
post #25 of 109
To me, if you live in an area where you're assessed this way, if you do not pay your fees, the fire should be fought - and you should be charged the total, real, amount of putting out the fire, plus some punitive fines. And if the homeowner doesn't pay up, he's evicted. I'm near an unincorporated area which just recently was assessed their fair share of the fire protection district - of course some of them were whining about 'paying for something they don't use'. They just liked the idea of paying less while receiving the same service.

Also, I bet the guy doesn't have homeowners insurance (or forgot to pay it) - nor would the insurance company pay up if the homeowner neglected to pay an assessed fee. Sad to say, this is all on him - he knew the rules, he broke them.
post #26 of 109
Thread Starter 
Even though I think the home owner is entirely liable for the loss of his animals and property, the policy for that town is bad. Either charge residents for a life protecting service or don't offer it at all.

Someone mentioned that auto insurance is required. I've never met a mortgage company that also doesn't require home owners insurance. What is the difference between home owners insurance and fire protection "insurance" in this case?

I suspect his home owners insurance company will reject the claim because the home owner didn't cover all of his home protection bases. I've seen homeowners insurance dropped for far less issues than this one.
post #27 of 109
A few points need to be seen here.

1. He actually lives outside the fire department's jurisdiction. He lives in the county, but not inside the city limits. Homeowners inside the city limits are covered through their taxes, but those living in the county are required to pay the $75 annual fee to be covered, in lieu of paying that amount in their taxes. This is the city's policy, not a decision of the fire department, and it is the city's right, since they own the department.

2. He knew that if his house caught fire, the department would let it burn. He'd seen it happen before.

3. His lawyers, his insurance company, etc., have no leg to stand on; it was his own negligence.

Now, in the area where my house is in Arkansas, we have to pay a $25 annual fee. The fire department will come out and fight a fire, even if the fee is not paid, but they then have a $1000 lien on the house which must be paid out of any insurance proceeds.

When we lived in Cleburne, there was a curmudgeon on the city council who owned a BBQ restaurant just outside (and I mean like 100 feet outside) the city limits, although he lived in the city. He was instrumental in prohibiting the fire department from fighting fires outside the city limits. When his restaurant caught fire, the department came and watched it burn. You know what they say about karma.
post #28 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by darlili View Post
To me, if you live in an area where you're assessed this way, if you do not pay your fees, the fire should be fought - and you should be charged the total, real, amount of putting out the fire, plus some punitive fines. And if the homeowner doesn't pay up, he's evicted.
This! this, this, this...

You DO NOT leave an uncontrolled fire burning. I don't care if you didn't pay your fees, I don't care if you didn't donate, I don't care if you called the fire chief bad names.... You DO NOT leave an uncontrolled fire burning.

There are lives at stake, property at stake, utilities at stake. What the hell would have happened if it had ruptured a gas line and BOOM there goes the whole neighborhood (this actually happened in a city near where I live, gas line blew and in the blink of an eye 6 houses were in flames)? What would have happened if it had caught the neighbors house on fire and someone elderly died of smoke inhalation?

You do the moral and right thing and you "serve and protect" you put out the fire and then you slap the irresponsible owner with a big fat bill for city services rendered. If they don't want to pay their bill, the city slaps a nice lien on the house and if they still don't pay, then the city exercises their right to collect that money and the house gets foreclosed. I know that is not ideal in this day and age, but faced with the potential loss of life, there really should be no question as to whether they were in the right or not.
post #29 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mai_kitties View Post
This! this, this, this...

You DO NOT leave an uncontrolled fire burning. I don't care if you didn't pay your fees, I don't care if you didn't donate, I don't care if you called the fire chief bad names.... You DO NOT leave an uncontrolled fire burning.
Yes! Yes, yes, yes.

You know what? Nothing.....and I mean nothing can justify to me these firefighters standing around and watching this house burn.

Nothing. I find it appalling and it actually makes me sick to my stomach, that these firefighters, who, I assume, probably took an oath to serve and protect, didn't serve and protect. I don't care that a certain amount of money was involved. What have we come to, where the value of your life and property comes down to how much you can pay.

Sickening.
post #30 of 109
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mai_kitties View Post
This! this, this, this...

You DO NOT leave an uncontrolled fire burning. I don't care if you didn't pay your fees, I don't care if you didn't donate, I don't care if you called the fire chief bad names.... You DO NOT leave an uncontrolled fire burning.

There are lives at stake, property at stake, utilities at stake. What the hell would have happened if it had ruptured a gas line and BOOM there goes the whole neighborhood (this actually happened in a city near where I live, gas line blew and in the blink of an eye 6 houses were in flames)? What would have happened if it had caught the neighbors house on fire and someone elderly died of smoke inhalation?

You do the moral and right thing and you "serve and protect" you put out the fire and then you slap the irresponsible owner with a big fat bill for city services rendered. If they don't want to pay their bill, the city slaps a nice lien on the house and if they still don't pay, then the city exercises their right to collect that money and the house gets foreclosed. I know that is not ideal in this day and age, but faced with the potential loss of life, there really should be no question as to whether they were in the right or not.
Their policy is outrageous!
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