Interesting discussion / debate: man’s house burns down

This article has a video interview with Gene Cranick whose house burned down because he wasn’t on the list of people who paid $75 for fire department services from a neighboring city:

Ashes and rubble are all that remain of Gene Cranick’s house after it burned to the ground last week in Obion County, Tennessee. Firefighters on the scene were not allowed to help and could only watch. All because Cranick forgot to pay a $75 service fee for him living outside of the city limits.

Because this fee wasn’t paid, the firefighters were not allowed to hose the house or do anything to save it. They could only stand by, in case it spread to other houses. They did aid a neighbor’s house, saving his field. But did nothing heroic for the Cranicks. A local news report shows them climbing in their trucks and driving away, as flames still covered the remains of Cranick’s home.

In my class about 90% of students thought the fire department should have stepped in and done something though there were a few who said the system needs to be strictly enforced. It’s not the kind of debate that lasts an hour – I felt 20 minutes was about right. Students did find the situation interesting (if somewhat unbelievable) and some asked on their own if something similar could happen in Korea.

I tried to present the issue sympathetically to the South Fulton government. That city pays for its fire department and needs the annual $75 to keep things running smoothly. Since Gene Cranick doesn’t live in South Fulton, his taxes didn’t go to the fire department. And since he forgot to pay the $75 maybe he really has no reason to expect another city’s fire department to save his home.

I didn’t mention that he had 3 dogs and a cat in the house (they all perished) but I did mention that when he called 911 he offered to pay whatever it took (I said “however many thousands of dollars”) for them to save his home.

It may be worth mentioning that they started the fire by burning trash too close to their home and not controlling the fire.

Filed Under: Stories from class

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