Would You Just Watch His House Burn?

South Fulton Tennessee firefighters responded to the 911 call from Gene Cranick about his house that had caught fire.  They just didn’t do anything to put the fire out when they showed up.  The official position was that they “declined to turn their hoses on”.

And so they stood by and watched while Mr. Cranick’s home, all his possessions, his two dogs, and his cat… burned to the ground.

Why did they do this, you ask?  It seems that South Fulton has a $75 advanced fee for out of city limits residents to receive fire department coverage.  If you pay the fee, the firemen are allowed to come to your rescue.  If you don’t, they (as evidenced) show up, and basically watch your shit burn.

Now… on one side, it can be argued that Mr. Cranick set himself up for this situation.  It could be said that the local government provided an opportunity for him to pay an optional fee that would have protected him in the event his house caught fire, and he didn’t do so, therefore he had no right to fire protection, and the firefighters were right not to provide service to defend his burning home and pets.

On the other side of the argument, it can be said that the firefighters acted callously when they had an opportunity to take action and potentially save some of their neighbor’s possessions and animals, regardless of whether he had remembered to pay the $75 fee.  It could be argued that they should have ignored the ordinance, and should have “acted with more compassion”, or maybe charged the $75 in arrears.  Of course… if they did something like this, his neighbors would have no reason to pay the optional fee for next year, which could leave the fire department even more strapped for cash, which was probably the reason to enact ordinance in the first place…?

So here’s my question:  I don’t care about the intellectual argument or the political commentary on this one.  Save it. I want to know what YOU would have done if you were one of the firefighters on that truck. Would you have turned the hoses on so as to douse the flames?  Or would you have let his place and pets burn because he hadn’t paid for your department to help him (which, by the way, keeps you on the job and helps feed your family if you’re that firefighter)?

And what if it your actions would mean you lost your job afterward?

Your answer, please?




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  1. When i first read this story in the news a few days back, i was shocked & dismayed… what is up with human nature in tennessee…
    anyway, it does pose a moral dilemma in some ways – who do you commit your loyalty to? I like to THINK that i would put out the fire. period. I THINK that would be the right thing to do. But honestly, were i one of those firefighters, whose job was the sole source of revenue for his/her family, perhaps I would have second thoughts if being humane & compassionate might mean losing that income. Maybe if i was already in a difficult financial position I would be less inclined to put my own livelihood on the line for someone else, who didn’t pay properly to have me protect him… or maybe I would not be fearful of whether supply would just stop for me & my family. Maybe I would believe that because I did the right thing, karma would take care of me and should i lose my job with the fire department for being a good human, a new and more suitable job would come along just when i needed it.

    i love the questions you make us think about. thanks.

    • Great analysis. Kera. Yeah, it woulda been a tough call at the time between the two, but I’da probably put out the fire and lost my job too. 😉 Good things happen.


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