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House burns to ground in South Fulton Tennessee Obion County

Updated on April 4, 2012

On September 29, 2010 a man by the name of Gene Cranick lost his home, 3 dogs and a cat. So you may be asking why? Or how did he lose his home? He lost it to a fire. It's sad yes. But what is even sadder than losing your house to a fire? Losing your house to a fire, while the fire department stands there and watches it burn. Some of you may have already heard of this story in South Fulton, Tennessee. Some of you may not have.

Apparently in Obion County, South Fulton, Tennessee you have to pay a $75 dollar fire department fee that is completely separate from the taxes. And if that is not paid the county implements a "No pay no spray" law. Basically stating that if you do not pay the $75 to the fire department annually, they will not respond to your place of residence to put out the fire. And this is what happened to Mr. Cranick and his family on that fateful day.

The fire department was only at the scene of the fire because the fire from Mr. Cranick's home spread into the neighboring yard. The neighbors apparently paid their $75 fee. And they sprayed the yard of the neighbor only. It is sad that any one with a moral conscience would stand around and let a man lose his home due to a non-payment of $75. It makes me sick to think that such things are even in place.

Unfortunately the fire did start because Mr. Cranick's grandson was burning trash to close to the house and it got out of control. They called 911, but the operator informed them that they would not and could not respond to the call because their names were not on the list of payers of the $75 fee. Explain to me how a fire department, or 911 operator has the time to look at a list of names to see who does and does not qualify for emergency services when there is clearly an emergency taking place? I thank goodness that no human was left in that house, because they for sure would be dead if they had been.

The order to not save the house was given by the Fire Chief David Wilds. According to reports a son of Mr. Cranick's was arrested after the fire for assaulting the Fire Chief. But do you blame him? How can Mr. Cranick's son not be upset about this matter? Especially when the entire fire department is standing there watching as the house burns to the ground? Wouldn't you be equally as upset?

Isn't the fire department, with out question, a life/property saving emergency service? There for making it no less important than, say, law enforcement, emergency medical services, or even rescue services? So why did this happen? Over a measly $75? Mr. Cranick begged and pleaded with the fire department and the 911 operator to save his home and possessions and offered to pay whatever the cost. But was denied the services.

What happens when you have a family that barely makes it through the month and lives paycheck to paycheck, and can't afford the $75 a year? This kind of Government service, where you can't recieve help unless you pay a anual fee, will kill the economy more than it has. In a sense we could have more homeless people on the streets if, heaven forbid, their houses burn and they can't afford to pay.

What moral compass do these firefighters have if they can stand and watch a house being burnt to the ground? Firefighters, who become what they are, who are destined to help those in need. And when the person who is in need can't or didn't pay they let his home and everything he owns burn?

It makes me sick to my stomach and my heart goes out to the family in their time of tragedy. And again I'm grateful that no person was in the house at the time of the fire.

Some people are saying that Mr. Cranick got what he deserved when he neglected to pay the $75 annual fee. What are your thoughts and opinions? Do you think they should have intervened and saved his home? Or do you think that they did the right thing by letting it burn because he didn't pay?


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    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 

      10 years ago from TEXAS

      Oh my - that is a tragic story! It's almost unimaginable that a fire crew could actually be required to - or to do so - to stand by and watch a family home burn to the ground and do nothing. What a horrid rule.

      At a bit of a different level I have a slightly different recent brush with a police department issue. I subscribe to a security alarm service which I use faithfully, not only when I go out but when I'm here especially during "peak" break-in hours. I'm super cautious about accidentally setting it off but on a couple of rare occasions, such as in February when looked out and saw my Dallas yard buried in over a foot of snow - I ran for my camera, and without thinking, slid open the patio door to get a clear shot of the scene with the moonlight and patio light giving it an ethereal quality. ALARM! I was at the back door and the alarm box is near the front door so I had to race to shut it off. Almost immediately I got a call from the security service to see what was the matter, followed by a second one from someone else on their staff. Shortly later, a nice policeman rang my doorbell to check on the call they got about it. I pay a $50 yearly fee for this police response service, in addition to my monthly fee for the security alarm services.

      The cop was polite and very thorough, requesting to come in and have a look around. My mind was painting pix of their concern that maybe someone just out of sight behind the door had a gun aimed at me if I let on. I gladly let the cop in & he satisfied himself that all was well, and was kind and interested in my well-being.

      Another time I similarly accidentally tripped the alarm system by opening a door and the same followup occurred. Once the wind blew open the door from the garage to the kitchen and they called but I'd been near the box when it happened and turned it off quickly. They didn't follow up that time.

      After that first incident, I have been in a regular habit of posting a post-it note on every door (I don't post the windows since I seldom would open them during alarm-on times) - The notes say "Disarm" or "Disarm Me" to remind myself that they're armed and to not open without disarming!

      The tricky wicket happened a couple of nights ago. I was fast asleep right here on this couch at 3AM when the alarm went off. I'd done nothing and there was no wind. But in my groggy state, it took me a moment to realize whether it had been my cell phone or some other sound and to go to the alarm box, where there was a message saying to check the "Status" button, which said the garage door was open. Naturally I was a little panicky. Turned on all the lights and checked that door and found it was no more than a hairline "open", though there was no visible reason it should have tripped open even that much. In any case, when the security folks called, I told them all I knew about it and that it happened while was sound asleep and heard nothing till the alarm went off. But they had to report it to the police and the cops had to come check it out. I didn't call them and I had no reason to report it to 911.

      The cop did come check it out well - all around the garage, and I suppose he could have noticed my cover under which I had been sleeping on the couch. I sleep in clothes I could go outside in if a emergency came up, though and had slipped on my fur-lined moccasins. It's doubtful that a lot of sleeping folks @ 3AM would have been presentable to answer the door except in a robe hastily thrown on. So maybe he questioned my account of it in his own mind.

      The next morning saw a neon-orange pre-printed police department note, info filled out about the "false alarm" call by the officer of the night. The note was a dire warning about false alarms, saying I may be assessed a charge for it, and that if it was also part of failure to pay the yearly fee for their response services I could be fined $500 as well!! The note suggested taking classes in better practices of using the security system as well as calling 911 in real emergencies! Heck. It blows my mind.

      Sheesh. I could have been being assaulted and raped just as easily as not - I surely didn't touch off the alarm. It could just as easily been "real". And to top it off it was the one time I knew it was not my carelessness! No such threats were made on those other instances when it was! I suppose it was a case of yelling for help one time too many, except that I didn't yell for it - it was offered - at my own expense! In the 365 nights of use, it's only happened 3 times. Not like I'm busy abusing the system!

      What in the world is response service for if not to respond? If they'd called and asked me if I required their visit, I would have declined it. But it was their place to check it out, they did so, but then threatened me because I was OK after all! Sheesh.

      Part of the printed note said that when officers are making false alarm calls, they're unable to respond to real ones. Well - gollygee. How could I have prevented it? And anyway, if protection is to be offered only when attack is a sure-thing. Blows mind. Plus - my taxes pay for the boys in blue and I usually throw a donation in the hat when they appeal for them at certain times of the year. The watchword seems to be "pay but don't expect the pay-off!"

      And that fire department assessment & edict is even 100 times worse, though this could be too, if they had refused to come when a real breakin was in progress just because of a 3rd "false alarm" on record, out of the many years of paying for the service with no false alarms!

      I'd think they'd be glad to be part of an effective service which prevents such breakins! If the strong possibility of a police response were not obvious when a burglar sees my sign that I have security service, they might even try to break in anyway!

      Likewise, historically -fire departments are eager to get to the fire and put it out as quickly and well as possible - in earlier days, communities from miles around gladly sent their firemen and equipment to help a neighboring town when a fire broke out. Money issues were not part of the fire department's prime concerns. Communities surely did all they could to support the brave and essential fire departments, but never would they dream of holding back their help if a fire broke out anywhere! It's truly appalling that the poor guy's house burned just a short distance from equipped firefighters. It's sickening.


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