Tag: Tennessee

Tennessee Family Home Burns While Firefighters Watch

I just copied and pasted the title of this thread from the article I’m using to introduce the topic. The title seems to me to imply a leaning by the author against the decision not to fight the fire. I am purposely refraining from saying whether or not I share that leaning for the time being. I would prefer to see the facts as presented discussed/debated before I give my take.

For the record, I happen to know that this is not the first story of its kind to come out of the South Fulton area of Tennessee. Last September, an almost identical story got quite a bit of news, forum and blog coverage, and I participated in quite a bit of the banter on another very busy forum. That’s the main reason I don’t want to give my take as of now. I feel I have kind of a head start in thinking about the issues at hand as they relate to government responsibilities/authorities, personal responsibilities and conservatism. I am hoping this will spark discussions similar to that one, where many folks ended up seeing it differently than their initial reactions dictated. For me, it was a good “test” of sorts of my beliefs, ideology and instincts, and my ability to adhere to them, and/or justify them within myself.

Also for the record, I happen to live in a jurisdiction served exclusively by a volunteer fire department. If you don’t live in such a jurisdiction, and never have, it might be hard for you to understand how they are funded, which varies widely from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. South Fulton, TN has what I perceive to be a rare form of funding in that residents outside the City Limits “subscribe” to the service for an annual fee of $75. No “subscription fee” paid, equals no fires at your home being fought, with one important caveat; the fire department will save lives within fairly standardized policies of risk to themselves, but once people are out of danger, the structure is left to burn. However, though the subscription scheme may be rare, volunteer fire departments are almost always funded by residents of the response-area, whether in the form of donations, local property taxes, bake sales, community garage sales or some combination thereof.

I also live right on the line between two counties. There is a large city-operated fire station about 1/4 mile from where I’m sitting right now, but that city is in the county I don’t live in. Our volunteer department is only about a mile away, staffed entirely by volunteers (no paid positions at all, but supervised and trained by paid officials who work in the County Seat, about 12 miles away), so response times are still very low to our neighborhood. But it’s no exaggeration to say that the staff at the city-operated station just up the road would literally be able to see the flames and smell the smoke if my house was on fire, but would not be able to respond. Point being, in jurisdictions across this country, there are limits imposed on firefighters concerning what locations and people get the benefit of their expertise and equipment, and close-in proximity to a given fire is not a mitigating factor to those limitations. Just something to consider. I’m still not saying how I feel about that circumstance though.