Every talk show host on radio and all of the Talking Heads on cable news outlets have covered the story of the firefighters in Obion County TN watch a family's home burn to the ground because they hadn't paid the $75 subscription fee for the services of a nearby fire department. Here's the story in case you've been asleep and didn't catch it. Firefighters Watch as House Burns. It's bothered me from the moment I read about it.
I think I've kept an open mind as I've listened to the paid Talking Heads. I've listened carefully to callers on my local talk radio station and I've read comments people have left on various news sites. I totally understand the family didn't pay the fee and therefore wasn't entitled to the services of the FD. I'm all about personal responsibility. The family says they forgot and having forgotten a bill or three myself I can see how that could happen. It doesn't matter to me. I still can't help but be bothered by the way this situation was handled.
Firefighters are our heroes. The Love of My Life (LOML) was a firefighter for years so I know a little bit about them. They are truly heroes ... they come when they're called. Our local fire department handles medical calls as well so they're usually first responders to medical calls as they're able to get to a location quicker than an ambulance can. I watched our fire department rescue my daughter from a freak accident at our house and get her to the hospital. I kissed the captain that night because I was so happy to see him. I knew him because of relationship with LOML but I would've kissed him if I hadn't known him. My daughter was in trouble and I was afraid she had lost her legs.
I watched our fire department try to save my neighbor has he lay on his front porch having suffered a heart attack. Unfortunately, they weren't able to save him but they came and they worked so hard to get him stable enough to go to hospital. I watched LOML cry after a house fire that killed two children. When my daughter started driving, he used to call me after working a traumatic traffic accident, especially if it involved teenagers to make sure she was home and safe. I've seen them fight just as hard to save a family pet as they did to save the people in the house. They fight just as hard to save a "structure" (they call all buildings structures for some reason) that was burning due to someone burning leaves inappropriately, arson, or someone leaving a pot of food on the stove. I say all that to say, I love firefighters. I think it takes a special person to be one. Period.
That's why it was so hard for me to believe that they actually let that family's home burn. It's not in their nature NOT to help. They don't check to see if someone has paid their taxes first before they respond (thank God ... Imma get that last few hundred paid soon -- I promise). They are charged with saving life first and property if at all possible.
After hearing more about the story, I don't fault the firefighters -- they were following "orders". I am surprised that not one of them said "to hell with orders" and let their training and instincts kick in but that's another issue. I'm upset that their boss saw the only solution to this family not paying their subscription fee was to let their home burn and kill the poor doggies that were trapped inside. They damn near crucified Michael Vick for abusing animals, but again that's another story. I personally think they could have saved the home (and pets) and charged the family a hefty fine for having to provide service. I know, I know if they didn't pay the $75 why would they pay a fine? I don't know if that would have happened or not. At the least they could have attached a lien on the home if they didn't pay that. But I digress.
I never thought I'd see the day when the fire department wouldn't be there to help us without checking our payment records first. But even more bothersome is the fact that so many people have the attitude "damn right no-pay-no-help". What happened to that love thy neighbor thing? Have we really become such a got-mine-get-yours society that our fire department - the very people we teach our children will help them when they're in trouble - will only help after they check to see if mommy or daddy or Gamma has paid a fee?
What in the world are we becoming? Lord help us.