In tea party town would fire fighters watch as houses burn?


Last week the nation saw a preview of life in an America as envisioned by ultra-right tea party types - a country where everything will be "privatized," more frightening than anything the cinema has to offer.

The nation saw Gene Cranick's home burned to the ground last week, consuming his three dogs and a cat.

Across the U.S. fearless fire fighters arriving at similar scenes, survey the situation and jump into action, risking their own lives to save the lives and property of others.

Not the privately owned fire department of South Fulton, Tennessee. They arrived on the scene and they watched until Cranick's dogs and cat were dead and his house was gone.

Cranick admits he forgot to pay a $75 annual service fee that would, under fire company policy, have provided him with protection.

Talking about his pets, Cranick told MSNBC, "They coulda' been saved if they put water on it. But they didn't do it.

"They put water on the fence out there. They never said nothing to me. Never acknowledged. They stood out there and watched it burn."

The fire fighters pulled out their hoses but left them on the ground until the fire spread to a neighbor's field, a neighbor who had paid the fee. When they finished spraying down the neighbor's field they climbed back onto their trucks and drove away, flames still flickering over the last remains of Cranick's house, his dogs and his cat.

The fire reportedly broke out in some barrels outside of Cranick's house. As the flames crept closer to his home he begged the firemen to turn on their hoses, offering to pay them whatever they wanted. The pleas fell on deaf ears.

Cranick's wife, Paulette, said she doesn't blame the firefighters. "They're doing what they are told to do. It's not their fault," she said on local television.

The mayor of South Fulton, David Crocker, showed no compassion.

"It (fire fighting) is a service that is offered," he said. "Either they buy it or they don't."

Glenn Beck, on national television, defended the decision to let the house burn down and to let the animals die.

"If they put out his fire," Beck said, "that would be allowing him to sponge off someone who paid the fee."

Think Progress noted: "There are currently two competing versions of governance in the United States. One, the conservative vision, believes in the on-your-own society, and informs a policy agenda that primarily serves the well off and privileged sectors of society. The other vision, the progressive one, believes in an American Dream that works for all people, regardless of their racial, religious, or economic background.

It was the conservative vision that was on full display last week in Obion County, Tennessee."

Photo: screen shot from video of smoldering ruins of Cranick home,


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  • I am a rather conservative individual who believes in the steadfast Christian principals this country was founded on. That being said, I am also a career fireman. I am concerned that people see the people involved in this situation as firefighters. This to me is a noble profession which is supposed to be concerned with life safety, incident stabilization, and property conservation. The people who were involved in this incident seemed to be concerned with the holy dollar. This is a shame when people allow dollars and cents to control the principals I was referring to before. Firefighters are supposed to be public servants, where within the definition of servant does it refer to paying your fire tax? While it is necessary for people to pay their bills, at what cost?! I don't really see the issue as one of the mayor, or the homeowner, but of people calling themselves firefighters who have sacrificed their integrity!

    Posted by Jim Cosgrove, 02/10/2011 11:24am (5 years ago)

  • Discovered this while trying to learn more about what tea party members say about privatization. I don't understand why anyone thinks a for-profit corporation would be more responsive than big government. Individuals may be more responsive - it's great that there are firemen who would fight fires no matter what, even if it meant losing their job. But why trust for-profit corporations? Their goal is profit, not the public good. Remember, we had privatized airport security on 9-11, and there was a big rush to switch back to government-run airport security.

    Posted by Louise, 10/31/2010 10:07pm (5 years ago)

  • This is the endgame for a world in which there is no common good and every person has to look out for himself. The end game for the "Who is John Galt" people. Let us work to avoid this catastrophy.

    Posted by Ron Johnson, 10/16/2010 9:32pm (5 years ago)

  • This is an example of the evil of Capitalism. The dehumanization where women and men seek the highest in humanism. This shows the evil of
    privatization. The racism and complete disregard for
    the workingclass is a product of capitalism. The lack of compassion and humanism shown by the mayor shows the callous disregard racism and antiworkingclass
    attitude towards Gene Cranick. Not to save helpless animals, the cat and the dog who gave love to Mr.
    Cranick and vica versa is totally cruel. This story touches my heart and makes tears come to my eyes.
    Yet it make me so angry that I want to stand up and fight for a better world with the Communist Party USA!
    We shall overcome by sticking together in unity, one and all!

    Posted by Carla E. , 10/12/2010 1:21am (5 years ago)

  • Forehead slapping moment!
    what will it be next,
    Sorry your house got robbed, but you were a month behind in your private security payment!
    You can't enter this library, you need to buy a library pass first!
    Gotta love privatization!

    Posted by CrazyJake, 10/11/2010 1:34pm (5 years ago)

  • Unconscionable. Those responsible for the decision need to be fired.

    The firefighters who bowed to their "superiors" and let the house burn should also be fired.

    Fight the fire first and then worry about $75.00.

    Posted by Ronald Humphrey, 10/11/2010 9:11am (5 years ago)

  • You think the issue is a "cold, unresponsive government," S Wiiiiiid?

    I don't. I think that the county government in question is more likely TOO responsive -- to people with bad ideas. Don't you figure that catering to the tax whiners might've had ~something~ to do with the FLAMING STUPIDITY of making fire protection fees optional in the first place?

    Posted by Trailer Trash, 10/08/2010 6:32pm (5 years ago)

  • Missing from the article is the response from the Firefighters' union.

    Harold Schaitberger, International Association of Fire Fighters president, said in a press release:

    "The decision by the South Fulton Fire Department to allow a family’s home to burn to the ground was incredibly irresponsible. This tragic loss of property was completely avoidable. Because of South Fulton’s pay-to-play policy, fire fighters were ordered to stand and watch a family lose its home.

    “Everyone deserves fire protection because providing public safety is among a municipality’s highest priorities.

    “Instead, South Fulton wants to charge citizens outside the city for fire protection. We condemn South Fulton’s ill-advised, unsafe policy. Professional, career fire fighters shouldn’t be forced to check a list before running out the door to see which homeowners have paid up. They get in their trucks and go.”

    Posted by José A. Cruz, 10/08/2010 3:34pm (5 years ago)

  • yo!......................spiff:

    check this out, in answer to your question............. it's about the fifth amendment to the constitution of the united states.

    ''The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution says 'nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.' This is a tacit recognition of a preexisting power to take private property for public use, rather than a grant of new power.''

    Eminent domain ''appertains to every independent government. It requires no constitutional recognition; it is an attribute of sovereignty.''

    In the early years of the nation the federal power of eminent domain lay dormant, 162 and it was not until 1876 that its existence was recognized by the Supreme Court. In Kohl v. United States 163 any doubts were laid to rest, as the Court affirmed that the power was as necessary to the existence of the National Government as it was to the existence of any State. The federal power of eminent domain is, of course, limited by the grants of power in the Constitution, so that property may only be taken for the effectuation of a granted power, 164 but once this is conceded the ambit of national powers is so wide- ranging that vast numbers of objects may be effected. 165 This prerogative of the National Government can neither be enlarged nor diminished by a State. 166 Whenever lands in a State are needed for a public purpose, Congress may authorize that they be taken, either by proceedings in the courts of the State, with its consent, or by proceedings in the courts of the United States, with or without any consent or concurrent act of the State. 167

    Posted by gary hicks, 10/08/2010 2:32pm (5 years ago)

  • Firemen watch and do nothing as a house burns down.
    Where is a sense of pride and community?
    In most every town I've lived there was a proud volunteer fire department. This would never have happened. What is the pride level in that small town in Tennessee. How proud do those fireman feel today? How proud is the rest of the town that they let one of their neighbor's houses burn down? They need to spend a few mornings at Graham Elementary School in Newark California.

    My two sons both attend Graham Elementary School in Newark CA . Every morning the principal Mr. Parenti asks the entire school to “do something today that makes you feel proud.” This is a powerful message he is trying to instill at his school, and one I think that has gotten lost in many communities these days. I have been listening to this for two years now, every morning, and finally it sunk in. The magnitude of what he is asking of his students, and all who are lucky enough to stay with their children for the 10 minute start of the day, is all encompassing. Pride instills self worth , self esteem , a sense of community and of doing what's right. Pride is a moral compass. We all should know what is morally right but when you are between the ages of 5 and 13 it can get confusing. The school celebrates doing the right thing when a few students are acknowledged for making the right choices every week. Whether it be by picking up a piece of trash in the school yard or helping another student with a random act of kindness. The positive reinforcement is an infectious stimulant that breeds pride. I think Mr. Parenti's message is working at Graham. This year we had our first float in the Newark Days Parade. The school grounds seem cleaner and I hope it is translating into a better learning experience for all the students. Doing your best in a school you are proud of is a rewarding feeling.

    What happened in a small town in Tennessee could happen anywhere if we all lose our sense of pride.

    Posted by Rick Bensco, 10/08/2010 12:13pm (5 years ago)

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