Firefighters Let House Burn

PC Comms

Member
May 30, 2010
1,881
Beautiful southern Georgia!
Not sure if this has been covered here or not (I searched and didn't find anything), but I was totally blow away when I read this. It seems that this fire department in South Fulton Tennessee was refused to put out a house fire simply because the people who owned the house didn't pay a $75 annual "fire protection fee". Now, I understand both sides of the coin here. The fee is in place for homes outside of the fire protections district, (homes within the district do not need to pay this fee) and if you come out for one fire where the homeowner hasn't paid, then you would set precedence and have to come out for all fires regardless of whether or not the fee has been paid. The thing that REALLY gives the service a black eye on this is that when the fire spread to a neighbors property (read - LAWN!!), they responded because that person had paid their fee, contained the grass fire and drove off while the other house was still burning. If I didn't see the video of this all happening, I would never have believed it myself. I've been in the service for over 20 years now and have family that are on the job both paid (FDNY) and as volunteers and I always was under the impression that you responded no matter what the circumstances were. What's your opinion on this?


Story and video can bee seen here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/04/firefighters-watch-as-hom_n_750272.html
 

Steve0625

Member
Jun 23, 2010
1,213
Northville NY
There's more to the story. The Huffington Post's article is pretty biased and only tells a part of the tale.


http://hansenreport.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/burning-down-the-house/ (There are several links in this article - follow them for even more background information.)


The most interesting point is that this FD is barred by local law from fighting a fire at a home where the fee has not been paid. (I am not defending this, just pointing it out.) This isn't the first time this has occurred there. An identical situation happened in 2008.
 

mcpd2025

Member
May 20, 2010
1,557
Maryland, USA
If that is the fire I am thinking about, its a horrible shame that a family pet died in the fire. At the end of the day, the homeowner gambled and lost. If you don't pay for car insurance, do you think Geico is going to cover you when you get into a car wreck? This guy made a concious decision to save something like $75 and risk losing everything. Other than the pet dying in the fire, I have no sympathy.


I think that for situations like this, the local fire department should have the ability to charge the homeowner for the total cost of putting out the fire, and attaching a lien to the house if they fail to pay. This prevents situations like this, while at the same time ensures that the department gets the neccessary funding. If the fire department put out the fire anyways... do you think anyone would pay the $75 fee? Without a couple hundred or thousand homeowners paying $75 a year, do you think that fire department would last much longer?
 
May 24, 2010
1,627
PG County, MD
mcpd2025 said:
(SNIP)


I think that for situations like this, the local fire department should have the ability to charge the homeowner for the total cost of putting out the fire, and attaching a lien to the house if they fail to pay. (SNIP)

Have a form already drawn up with associated costs have the homeowner sign, date and time the first half before a hose comes off of the engine, then have them sign, date and time the 2nd half with time on scene and then charge them appropriately.


The first half, they acknowledge the costs, the 2nd half they acknowledge time on scene. No chance of there being any issues with time on scene or charges incurred. Would be interesting to see if homeowners insurance would pick up the coverage fee.
 

Newberry13

Member
May 21, 2010
613
SC, USA
SlickTop Solutions said:
Have a form already drawn up with associated costs have the homeowner sign, date and time the first half before a hose comes off of the engine, then have them sign, date and time the 2nd half with time on scene and then charge them appropriately.

The first half, they acknowledge the costs, the 2nd half they acknowledge time on scene. No chance of there being any issues with time on scene or charges incurred. Would be interesting to see if homeowners insurance would pick up the coverage fee.

I can see two problems with this.


1) What if it's an apartment complex, or any other commercial structure and the owner is not there?


2) What if it is a rented house? The tenant wouldn't know if the landlord payed, nor would he/she have the authorization to sign those forms.
 
May 24, 2010
1,627
PG County, MD
Newberry13 said:
I can see two problems with this.
1) What if it's an apartment complex, or any other commercial structure and the owner is not there?


2) What if it is a rented house? The tenant wouldn't know if the landlord payed, nor would he/she have the authorization to sign those forms.

1) The above mostly happens in rural areas, I have yet to see an apartment building out in the country.


2) The fire department would know if the owner paid.


Very rarely have I seen a rental in a rural area (I have seen it though). Any lease I have ever seen has held the renter responsible for any damages to the property with the exception on failure of maintenance on the part of the landlord or an act of god. I would think that a fire (if caused by the renter) would be the renters responsibility to prevent.
 

mcpd2025

Member
May 20, 2010
1,557
Maryland, USA
Perhaps a combo of my plan and Dan's plan. You offer the peperwork to the homeowner, if he agrees you don't have to go through litigation and the lien process, therefore its cheaper for homeowner. In the event of an unoccupied dwelling or refusal to sign paperwork until the lawyer has read it, the fire department can still put out the fire and go through the legal means of recouping their costs.
 

PC Comms

Member
May 30, 2010
1,881
Beautiful southern Georgia!
My thing is, why wouldn't they just bill the homeowner's insurance company afterwards? We do it here. We had some people actually get pissed at us here for that thinking that it was going to cost them or raise their rates, but what most people don't realize it that there is a provision in all homeowner's insurance policies that provide reimbursement to fire departments for services rendered. The same applies to vehicle insurance and we bill the insurance companies for services rendered at accidents and vehicle fires. It's a different world out there and I know how difficult it is for volunteer departments to survive financially these days. But there are alternatives to "fees", ESPECIALLY when it comes to saving someone's home from a fire. My feelings are, WHAT IF someone else other than the home owner had called that in not knowing whether or not there was someone inside and the department didn't respond, resulting in a loss of life? Seriously, where do we draw the line?
 
Jul 14, 2010
1,639
S.W. Ohio USA
mcpd2025 said:
Perhaps a combo of my plan and Dan's plan. You offer the peperwork to the homeowner, if he agrees you don't have to go through litigation and the lien process, therefore its cheaper for homeowner. In the event of an unoccupied dwelling or refusal to sign paperwork until the lawyer has read it, the fire department can still put out the fire and go through the legal means of recouping their costs.

Shove the form under the poor SOB's nose at the fire scene, and some shyster will claim it was signed under duress!


They have an assed up system, but I still say pay the bill or burn. Like it was said before, your car insurance company sure won't pay if you try to sign up AFTER a crash.


The local news is always running sob stories about people who got burned out without insurance. One recent story featured a family who had just been burned out a SECOND time without insurance either time. Sorry, but I have no sympathy at that point. Stupid is as stupid does.
 
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