As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, South Fulton Fire Department firefighters from Obion, Tennessee, last week stood by and watched as a family’s home burned down because their services were available by subscription only, and the family had not paid the $75 fee. Immediately, right-wing writers at the conservative movement’s bulkhead magazine, The National Review, leapt to the defense of the county and argued in support of the notion that firefighting should not be a public service available to all, regardless of ability to pay.
Now, local news station ABC 7 is reporting that the Obion County Budget Committee met last night and has decided to expand the subscription-only fire service to additional towns. The station reports that the committee “passed an agreement yesterday to give all communities in the county the option of paying a subscription” to purchase fire service — essentially expanding the service that stood by and watched as the Cranick family’s home burned to the ground. Watch the station’s report:
Union City Fire Department Chief Kelly Edmison objects to the new expansion, saying that “the best option is a true fire tax. It eliminates this having 911 or whoever check to say, ‘Are they covered or not covered?’ The last thing a firefighter wants to do is to not be able to help when they’d like to.” According to documents prepared by the county in 2008, a paltry 0.13 cent increase in property taxes on each household would be all it would take to fund fire services for the towns within the county.