Wednesday, October 6, 2010

South Fulton Tennessee: Shame and Embarrasment

In South Fulton, Tennessee a man burning trash in a burn barrel had the grass catch fire. He grabbed his garden hose and tried to put the fire out in the grass but it got the better of him and spread. An hour later, it had spread to the house and the house started burning.

When the owner couldn't get control of the fire in the yard, he called the fire department. The fire department wouldn't respond. It's not because they couldn't respond. They WOULD NOT respond. Their reason was that the owner hadn't paid his $75.00 fee for the year.

The fire spread even more beyond the man's house to a field of his neighbors caught fire. Luckily for the neighbor, they had paid the annual fee of $75.00. So the fire department responded to that call. They put out the neighbors fire, but then watched as the first house burned down. They didn't just leave. They watched!

When asked, the Mayor of South Fulton said that they had to draw the line somewhere and decided that this was where they would draw that line.

What you may not know is that this is not the first time that this has happened. It happened several years ago, in the same city..or rural area.

Why wasn't the fee paid? The husband said he'd just forgotten about it. The wife said they just hadn't paid it yet. My question is, who cares? There was a simple solution. Put the fire out and then bill for the expense of doing so. Fight it out in the courts if you must, but you don't allow someone's house to burn down for any reason.

We have a long history in this country of neighbors helping neighbors. That help came in many forms. It could be a food basket for someone that is having a tough time financially. The better known is probably the barn raising. A man needed a barn and the neighbors would come over and put a barn up. The next guy that needed a barn would get the same help and it would spread.

I've read several of the stories written about this and watched the news report on the local television station. Each of them said that the firefighters weren't to blame because they were following the orders of the Mayor and the City Manager. I disagree with this. If a firefighter is there, the right thing for him to do is to help put the fire out despite the orders from "on high". At some point, morals have to come into play. Anyone that was there and didn't help or at least try to help to put the fire out was guilty.

The reports also say that the community is upset about the entire affair. But they were also upset a few years ago when it happened before, yet nothing was changed.

I'm beginning to think that we should get used to this. The health care plan recently passed will leave us with rationed care. Money was spent to create and save jobs, but you can't count how many jobs are saved and it certainly didn't create any jobs.

This event was on the local level and involved a fire. We are in for more stories like this if we don't change things and change them soon. This is a government, albeit local, that decided that this couples house had a worth of $75.00. Due to that $75.00 not being paid, they refused to put out a house fire. Suppose someone had been trapped inside. Would the fire department still in effect say "best of luck to you" instead of responding with a human life at stake? Are they really going to put a worth of a human life at $75.00? The answer is likely to be yes. After all, they didn't show up because of the lack of a small payment. Why would a human life cause unfeeling government officials to show up? I didn't see nor hear that question being asked of the Mayor or anyone else. Even if the question was asked, could we trust their answer?

I think we couldn't. In Bay City, Michigan last year, a man died from the cold because his electricity was shut off. So why should we expect South Fulton to do any different if a human life was at risk?

I hope that the people of South Fulton remove the Mayor from office. I hope they remove the City Manager from office. I hope that they replace the fire departments firefighters. Then, if they do, they need to change that law that was put in place in 1990.

Every person that was at that fire is guilty of inaction. They might as well have brought hot dogs and had a weinie roast for all the good they did standing around watching.

I certainly hope that the American people can see that government at all levels must be held accountable for their actions and inactions. This family was wrong for not paying their bill. But that is no excuse for allowing a home to burn to the ground, leaving this couple homeless.

In the military, a soldier must follow orders. However, if an order is illegal, the soldier is obligated to not follow those orders. The fire department, the fire fighters, all are obligated to not follow the orders that they were given.

I'd much rather defend myself against insubordination if I were a firefighter knowing that I helped save someone's home, than have to face this couple after my having not even lifted a finger when I could have. Even if these firefighters had not succeeded in saving the couples home, every attempt should have been made. It is not just their job, it's their responsibility. There is no excuse for what happened here.
You're welcome to comment.



meanjean said...

Perfect! I agree with each and every word of your post. Couldn't have put it any better. Compassion comes first!!

Glenn Frey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brett said...


Thank you very much! :)


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