A few years ago the fire department in South Fulton, TN made national news when rushed to the scene of a house fire and —
Let the thing burn to the ground.
It turns out that the family hadn’t paid their $75 annual fire protection fee:
Firefighters aren’t afraid to break down windows and doors to douse flames, but a Tennessee family’s failure to pay a $75 fee stopped firefighters dead in their tracks last week as a home burned to the ground.
South Fulton, Tenn., firefighters stood on the sidelines, watching as flames engulfed Gene Cranick’s Obion County home. They refused to help because Cranick had not paid an annual “pay to spray” subscription fee.
“I just forgot to pay my $75,” homeowner Gene Cranick said. “I did it last year, the year before. … It slipped my mind.”
The city of South Fulton charges that $75 fire protection fee to rural residents who live outside the city limits. When a household has not paid the fee, firefighters are required by law to not respond.
It turns out that when you live within the city limits you pay taxes that support things like fire departments. But when you live outside those city limits, and avoid paying those taxes, you do not get to enjoy things that those taxes pay for. Things like fire stations.
The outrage was all the rage at the time. My liberal talk show hosts couldn’t stop talking about it for days.
Not surprisingly, I took the Libertarian approach:
If you want fire station protection, you should pay for it; if you don’t, then don’t.