Firefighting and the free market

I mentioned it in ’08. This news report reminded me of the same-

Gene and Paulette Cranick, of South Fulton, Tennessee, US, lost their home after officers were ordered by bosses not to extinguish it.

Fire fighters only arrived when the flames spread to the property of a neighbour, who had paid the fee. However, they continued to refuse to help the Cranicks.


Rural residents can gain access to the service by paying the annual fee. But “if they choose not to,” Mr Vowell said, “we can’t make them”.

Mr Cranick said: “I thought they’d come out and put it out, even if you hadn’t paid your $75, but I was wrong.” His wife said the couple had offered to pay the fire fighters whatever was necessary for them to extinguish the flames, but the officers refused.

Though this is not an example of a private firefighting service, it is an example of a voluntary service fee vs. forced taxation. Once you are ready to accept the risk of a fire completely burning down your house rather than pay for the service, you only have yourself to blame if the risk materializes. Though as Caplan says in the post I linked to previously, the department could have charged a heavy “emergency fee” to put out the fire.

People who react with a “how can you let this happen” are the ones who abhor the free market and the responsibility it places on individuals. It’s either this or Bloomberg confiscating your salt shaker and the government deciding how fat you are allowed to be, by proxy of course.

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