brief thoughts on the house that burned down for lack of a $75 payment

Lots of people are outraged over the firefighters' lack of action over a homeowner missing a $75 subscription to fire protection service.

Are the same people upset about not having healthcare available for people who don't pay? How is it different?

The homeowner said, "I'm no freeloader, I've worked all my life for everything I've got. It happens to anybody, I don't care, you forget things and I did. I suffered the consequences for it."

He made it clear that he understood the way this capitalistic system works. So should we now ignore him? Or change the system?

What if he had not been forgetfulness or irresponsibility, but an inability to pay? Would there still be outrage?

I might feel differently if

I might feel differently if he was living in an incorporated area, but he was outside of any city limits.

I know when I lived in Ramona, *everyone* who lived in the backcountry knew they were on their own in regards to the fire danger.

Now, it's a little different out there, as firefighters will try and respond as best as possible, but there are very few firefighters for a very large area to cover. 'As best as possible' can mean a very long wait for a very small crew.

So you talk to your neighbors, and make sure everyone has backup power for your well pump in case you need to perform a little impromptu dousing of your own.

(You most definitely don't start burning trash near your house when you don't have water available.)

To be clear- I really feel for the guy; what happened genuinely sucks. But I think there's more to it than the simple, confrontational way the news is presenting it as.

My problem with the reactions

My problem with the reactions to the story (and strangely not the reportage) is the hypocrisy. Actually, I don't know that i could call it hypocrisy even - maybe it's just inconsistency.

Many of the people proclaiming that for the firefighters to not act was inhuman and heartless. Some of the same people don't think someone who is unable to (not unwilling or irresponsible) for health care should get none; is that any less heartless?

I do not have the wisdom to say that one system is superior to another. I see the validity of a true kind of insurance (paying for a service just in case). If you are not paid up, you don't get the service. Had the firefighters acted, then anyone covered by the area should be able to not pay and expect the same behavior. That's not good for business (in many communities in the old west, it was not uncommon for a firefighting team to negotiate a price while standing outside the structure that was burning).

Back in Roman times,

Back in Roman times, acquired his wealth by showing up to burning buildings with his firefighting brigade, and negotiating the purchase of the buildings & land for a minuscule amount.

His team would then extinguish the flames, and he'd resell the property for a huge profit.

Of course, his greed eventually pissed off enough people that he was killed by having molten silver poured down his throat, but that's neither here nor there. :D


My personal feeling is that some level of firefighting service should be provided to any and all residents of a state, period, with costs paid for by a general tax. I think CalFire does a pretty good job along these lines- more densely populated areas have access to better equipment, of course, but even someone in-between Julian & Ramona in some spur canyon will get an engine & a few volunteer fighters for no specific out-of-pocket cost.