Woman Says Firefighters Blameless In House Burning
by Rodney Dunigan
SOUTH FULTON, Tenn. - A woman whose house burned to the ground as firefighters stood and watched said she does not blame them because they were following orders.
Paulette Cranic said Wednesday she's just thankful no one was hurt in the fire last week that destroyed the doublewide trailer in small Obion County town of South Fulton.
Firefighters did not try to save the burning structure because Cranic had not paid the annual $75 subscription fee for fire protection. Firefighters went to the scene to keep flames from spreading to nearby property whose owners had paid the fee.
Cranic said her family had paid the fee in the past but simply forgot it recently. She and her husband are now living in their year old camper and a 21-year-old grandson who lived with them is living with his mother.
The fees are common, so there's potential something like this could happen again.
For more than 20 years, Larry Farley has been a firefighter. Most of that time with the Rutherford County Volunteer Fire Department. He takes the responsibility seriously, that's why he can't believe what happened in the small town of South Fulton.
"We get in this job to serve. I think that's one of the ways we give back to our community. We're always there regardless of when they need us. I can't imagine responding to a fire just to watch it burn," Farley told NewsChannel 5.
The idea of a fire fighting fee is not uncommon. In fact, Farley said at one time his fire house solicited donations to help with operations. However, the thought of punishing a homeowner for not coming out of pocket is out of the question. Although Farley believes the South Fulton department was wrong in the way they handled the situation, he stressed many volunteer departments need financial assistance, resources used to protect the entire community.
"We don't take the time to look in a filing cabinet and see if this person that we're going to has donated money or given to the department or whatever. Nobody in the county operates like that. However, you need to understand that's how a lot of them are funded. They need the donations from the community. When they get those letters in the mail, they need to think about it seriously because that helps keep the fire department in business," said Farley.
A number of local volunteer departments that aren't paid service fees simply charge homeowners if they knock down a fire on their property. Local jurisdictions certify their fire departments. Their only requirement is to register with the Tennessee Fire Commission. Those departments along with local government then decide how funds will be raised.