South Fulton Firefighters: A Disgrace To The Uniform?

South Fulton Firefighters: A Disgrace To The Uniform?

When I raised my right hand and pledged to protect and serve citizens and their property I took that oath seriously. Every officer does. And so does every single firefighter I know. I’ve never met a police officer or firefighter who’s in the business for the money. Not one. They took the job because they want to help people.

I’ve been called to the scene of scores of fires where I’ve seen brave firefighters wade into a wall of flames just to bring out a family heirloom, or a beloved pet. They’ve risked their own lives to save the lives of others. It’s what they do and what they do is dangerous. Very.

Firefighters, like police officers, raise their right hands and promise to help others when in need. In fact, here’s a copy of the firefighter’s pledge.

A Firefighter’s Pledge

I promise concern for others.
A willingness to help all those in need.

I promise courage – courage to face and conquer my fears.
Courage to share and endure the ordeal of those who need me.

I promise strength – strength of heart to bear whatever
burdens might be placed upon me.
Strength of body to deliver to safety all those placed within my care.

I promise the wisdom to lead, the compassion to comfort,
and the love to serve unselfishly whenever I am called.

-Author Unknown

I’ve said all this as a lead-in of sorts to a story that really rattles me to the core. And it bothers me to speak badly about public servants but, in my opinion, firefighters of South Fulton, Tennessee didn’t serve the public. In fact, they stood by and watched a couple’s home burn to the ground and didn’t lift a finger to stop it. Inside that home were a lifetime of memories along with the family pets. They all perished.

Obion County, Tennessee – Gene Cranick was burning trash in two metal drums, a common practice in rural areas of the country. The containers were quite some distance from his mobile home, yet the fire ignited nearby grass and quickly spread toward Cranick’s home. He called 911 seeking the fire department’s help.

The 911 dispatcher advised Cranick that firefighters would not be responding because he’d failed to pay a $75 “fire service fee.” The distraught homeowner told the dispatcher he’d pay whatever it took to get the firefighters to respond because his house was now on fire. The response he received was an unbelievable, “It’s too late to pay and they will NOT be responding.”

Cranick, along with friends, attempted to extinguish the blaze with garden hoses, but the fire was too much for the small amount of water. Meanwhile, the fire had spread to a neighbor’s field and fence, so they called the fire department. However, their response was quite different and in a matter of minutes a fire crew was on the scene spraying gallons of water using high-pressure hoses attached to publicly-funded fire trucks.

Why did the fire department respond to the grass fire? Because the owner of the dry weeds had paid the $75 fee in advance. So, after the Fulton FD extinguished the brush fire they stood leaning against their trucks and against the property fence and watched the Cranick home burn until it was reduced to a pile of cinders. A pile of cinders that also contained the remains of the Cranick’s beloved pets.

You know, this story disgusts me. It makes me ill…sick to my stomach. Sure, taxes and fees must be paid. It’s the law. But there are remedies available to collect those fees, even after the fact. For goodness sake, put out the fire and then sue. Get a $75 lien against the property.  Bill the homeowner for time and material plus interest. Take Visa or MasterCard. Install one of those credit card swipers directly in the body of a fire truck. Something. Anything! But don’t stand by and let a lifetime go up in flames over a few measly dollars.

Thankfully, this is an isolated incident. Firefighters everywhere are true heroes.

As for the firefighters of South Fulton who stood by and watched this family home burn…shame on you. Sure, you’ve probably saved lots of property in your day, maybe even a few lives, and you deserve thanks for those acts, but this is a dark cloud that’ll hang over your heads for a while. Policies or no policies. You were there, on the scene, and did nothing to help your fellow man. Perhaps you need to read this…again.

Fire Fighter’s Prayer

When I am called to duty, God wherever flames may rage,
give me strength to save a life, whatever be its age.

Help me to embrace a little child before it’s too late,
or save an older person from the horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert to hear the weakest shout,
and quickly and efficiently to put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling and to give the best in me,
to guard my neighbor and protect his property.

And if according to your will I have to lose my life,
bless with your protecting hand my loving family from strife.

So what’s next, a fee for police service? “Sorry, ma’am, but you didn’t pay your $75 rape insurance…”

I’m just saying…

*This article is strictly my opinion and parts of it were paraphrased from comments found in news stories…lots of news stories).

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Writers’ Police Academy Photo of the Day

10 replies
  1. Mary Quinlisk
    Mary Quinlisk says:

    Those were some pretty cold-hearted people who could just stand by & watch that house burn to the ground when they had the equipment & ability to stop it. They should be ashamed of their behavior that day. You know what they say, ‘what goes around, comes around.’

  2. Linda Taylor
    Linda Taylor says:

    Cranick was on FoxNews and he said his neighbor had his checkbook out and told the fireman he’d pay any amount… I think I heard $5000 mentioned, but the fireman refused. Also, a man, defending the decision, was also on Fox trying to justify the decision… disgusting! I guess he thought they could use this older couple as an example without rebuttal from the public. The govt pays their salaries so how can they choose NOT to be a public servant, even for an unpaid fee? I thought there was a creed/pledge made by firemen and policemen, like there is in the military.

    Thank God most Firemen are protectors and defenders from the tiniest to the biggest… I don’t know how many times I’ve watch teary-eyed, not only fire rescues, but as they rescued a horse stuck in mud, a dog caught in rushing waters or a cat stuck in a tree… events beyond the call of duty and some times taking hours to do. So it’s so hard for me to even phantom the thought of firemen just standing there and watching a home burn to the ground, especially knowing there were 3 dogs and a cat perishing inside, for an unpaid $75 fee. It really makes me ill, since I am such a pet lover, esp. dogs.

  3. Sara R. Butler
    Sara R. Butler says:

    Is it true that four family pets were killed in this fire? It is bad enough that this family lost their home, but why would anyone stand by and let three dogs and a cat be burned up in a housefire? Doesn’t the life of any living being have value? I am so thoroughly disgusted with this story and the lack of compassion from so many people that I will always remember the name of this pathetic town in Tennessee.

  4. Elizabeth Bryant
    Elizabeth Bryant says:

    I’m really stunned by this story. I can’t imagine the firefighters were even thinking about a $75 fee in that situation. When I think of firefighters and cops, I think of people with an irresistible urge to help–that’s why they do what they do. Were any of the firefighters interviewed or quoted? What were the individuals thinking as they watched that man’s grief?

  5. Karen McCullough
    Karen McCullough says:

    I agree that it’s appalling that those firefighters did nothing, but the real people responsible for the travesty are the people in charge, the “officials” who created the rule. There’s an easy solution to the problem, too. Just tell people that if you don’t pay the fee, then yes, we’ll come when you call, but you’ll have to pay a much higher fee, enough to offset all costs of the call. If your house is on fire, you’ll pay whatever it takes, and like paying insurance, it’s worth paying the lower amount to decrease your risk.

  6. Sharon K
    Sharon K says:

    If it was the Mob that payment would be called ‘extortion’, but since it is a government agency it’s called a “fire service fee.”
    Still smells like extortion to me.

  7. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Sure, Mark, they’re right on paper, and all that sounds great. But we’re not talking about insurance. We’re not talking about fuel. We’re not talking about equipment. We’re talking about real live people and firefighters who were on the scene and watched one of their own neighbor’s house burn to the ground. And that goes against a firefighter’s oath and pledge. Public lifesavers are sworn to protect and serve the public.

    Now, if this had been a private fire fighting company, like an insurance company or fuel company, then I might think differently—you know, one that didn’t receive federal, state, and local grants and funds. Even if the firefighters hadn’t been on the scene I might think differently. But to stand there and watch a house burn when they had the means to help…well, that’s just morally wrong. Besides, the locals are in the process of changing the policy. Why do you think they’re doing that now? Because they were right?

    I say make the fee mandatory, as a tax, and let everyone share the costs of the equipment, fuel, and gas.

    Question for those in the know: What if you’re traveling through this area and your car catches on fire? Do you not receive fire protection?

  8. Mark Blair
    Mark Blair says:

    The subscription fire service is definitely the worst model of supporting a fire department. However, for the areas that they do protect, that is absolutely how they do business, and I have to say that I think they’re right.

    If Mr Cranick and every other person didn’t pay ahead of time, and only paid, even an exorbitant fee, when service was needed, how would the fire department be able to buy the equipment ahead of time to be prepared.

    The fuel company isn’t going to put fuel in the apparatus and only charge the FD if they use that fuel. The turnout gear manufacturer isn’t going to deliver turnout gear to the FD and tell them “You only need to pay us if you use it.”

    I would like to not pay my insurance company until I have something happen, and then when I file a claim, I can send them a check to catch up on my premiums.

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