Johnson City Press Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Opinion

Give to volunteer fire departments if you can

December 9th, 2011 11:40 am by Staff Report

Imagine your home is on fire and firefighters arrive at the scene only to watch it burn. You beg them for help, but they refuse to do anything because you haven’t paid a $75 fire protection fee.
That’s exactly the situation Gene Cranick experienced last fall when his double-wide mobile home in Obion County was destroyed by flames while firefighters from the nearby city of South Fulton did nothing.
Vicky Bell lived through a similar nightmare this week — again in Obion County — when her mobile home burned to the ground as firefighters stood by and watched.
In both cases, firefighters say their hands were tied by a “pay to spray” policy that prohibits their department from responding to fire calls at homes that do not pay the West Tennessee county’s annual fire protection fee. And it is a policy that doesn’t allow for last-minute reprieves.
Thankfully, volunteer and professional fire departments in our part of the state don’t subscribe to the “pay for spray” policy. That’s because they are dedicated public servants who won’t stand by while a building burns. Leaders with the International Association of Fire Fighters have called the South Fulton Fire Department’s decision to allow the home to burn to the ground “incredibly irresponsible.”
We couldn’t agree more, but we would also remind local citizens who depend on volunteer firefighters to become benefactors of those local departments.
Give what you can when those volunteer fire departments ask for your help. And encourage local and state officials to do all they can to help fund volunteer fire departments.

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