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The latest fire in Obion County, TN (which you may recall does not have a fire department) came as no surprise to me. Unfortunately, neither did the complete failure of the press — even independent, progressive media.  If public safety professionals were allowed to inform the discourse, we could gain much ground for the 99%. Alas.

A very popular position among progressives:

    *The firefighters who responded and did not control the fire are immoral cowards, motivated by Tea Party or Libertarian ideology;

    *they are so petty that they think it serves that woman right to lose her home because she did not pay $75;

    *they are too stupid and incapable of independent decision making to know when to break the rules.

From this position, the guilty parties are the first responders on scene and the mayor of South Fulton, Tennessee.  Blame is placed at the very bottom of the chain of command, for not refusing to follow departmental guidelines when someone is in need.  Support for these firefighters is viewed as immoral under this breakdown.

 My position is that Plato’s allegory of the cave applies here.    

   *After 30 years of Reaganomics, Obion County no longer has the ability to put a fire station every 2-3 miles, per standard;

    *the subscription fire service has South Fulton City Fire Department running calls in the county (outside their area);

    *each station’s range becomes 10-11 miles, a severe shortfall;  

    *that overstresses the tiny department;

    *county residents who demand a share of services they have not paid for are now pitted against the city residents who have paid for them;

    *Per capita income in this county is $15,983;

    *The center cannot hold, and both city and county residents (and national media) turn on the firefighters.

From my position, governor Bill Haslam (R-TN) is to blame, top of the chain of command.  

He boasts of having given state employees a raise, yet laid off 1,300 workers to do so.  After the Cranick fire made national news last year, he surely knows he has an entire county without fire protection.  Rather than subsidizing the impoverished county with tax revenue from wealthier counties (universal practice in developed nations), he gives corporate tax subsidies.  

    *The South Fulton City department is left with a band-aid for their bullet hole.  
    *The man behind the curtain successfully abdicates responsibility.  
    *The 99% tear each other limb from limb.
    *The 1% shrugs all the way to the bank.
    *Everyone in the country rapes the South Fulton Fire Department, and they feel righteous about it, too.

 We’ve been telling you there’s a crack in the levee for years.

Originally posted to Xavier Onassis EMT-P on Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 12:00 PM PST.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, American Legislative Transparency Project, and Three Star Kossacks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Your link to your Plato example (0+ / 0-)

    Leads to a discussion of what is/isn't public domain art. Perhaps you might have a more informative link.

    from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

    by Catte Nappe on Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 12:25:33 PM PST

    •  Sure (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      northsylvania, Catte Nappe

      Actually I was trying to link to the graphic, which I felt was informative.  The discussion of public domain status is incidental.  At any rate, here's the Cliff Notes from Wikipedia:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      "In the dialogue, Socrates describes a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe forms to these shadows. According to Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality. He then explains how the philosopher is like a prisoner who is freed from the cave and comes to understand that the shadows on the wall do not make up reality at all, as he can perceive the true form of reality rather than the mere shadows seen by the prisoners."

      Criticizing the firefighters on scene is like punching at the shadows, rather than looking at the form that cast them.

  •  Thank you. That was tough to watch. (3+ / 0-)

    My brother has been an EMT/firefighter for many, many years and my son is a rookie police officer.

    Responders pay a heavy price for underfunding public safety services.  Think about it next time you pay taxes - many lives are at stake, not just yours.

    Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

    by FindingMyVoice on Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 12:27:08 PM PST

  •  This particular story has been argued to death. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345

    ...but isn't it worth mentioning the residents in question who lost the trailer home aren't upset at the fire department and don't think the fire department could have saved it in the first place?

    •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      northsylvania

      that it's been "argued to death."  In fact, I heard The Young Turks (Michael Shure and Ana Kasparian, to be specific) throw another boot party on this same exact department.  

      I haven't heard Keith Olbermann correct or retract the horrible misrepresentation he gave it, either.  I hear a lot of progressives discussing it as idiot firefighters "hopped up on tea," let's have a Nuremburg trial, etc.

      There are numerous other stories grossly misreported for the same reason as well.

      It is this writer's opinion that the exclusion of first responders from the public discourse is a serious societal problem; we bear the brunt of it initially, then, as shown above, people die.

      Sorry if it bores you.

      •  The media pick low hanging fruit. (0+ / 0-)

        It's what they do. Unfortunately most people who have no idea of the complexity of a given situation pick up on sound bites to the exclusion of discourse.
        You have intimate knowledge of first responders; most of us here do not. Your job is to inform the ignorant, not castigate them for being unaware. I am following you here because you are bringing to light a very important subject, and one which has universal resonance, as all of us have to rely on people such as yourself sooner or later. Don't hate on us, or even people like Olbermann, who often unearths problems that really do need addressing. Please enlighten both him and other media figures, and us as well, because it's information we all really need to know.
        Thank you.

        "Bootstraps are a fine invention as long as they are attached to boots." blueoasis

        by northsylvania on Mon Dec 12, 2011 at 02:16:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          northsylvania

          and I apologize if I appeared to be castigating people here.  You're exactly right, I'm trying to give people important information that affects our entire country.

          If I seem angry, it's because it would be so easy to get informed as to something like this BEFORE flapping our pie holes on TV, yet time and time again they take a pass.

          Honestly if they had spent 10 minutes on the phone before going on air maybe this second home wouldn't have been lost.  In light of what I've written, look at this clip:

          http://www.youtube.com/...

          From the comment section:

          "Not even the Mafia would do this. If a house is on fire, they would charge an extortionate amout and PUT OUT THE FUCKING FIRE."

          "Those assholes wanted to punish the non-payers."

          "If firefighters dont want to work, you must replace them."

          "Those who are like the Firemen would be SHOT if i had a say in it!"

          Someone else recommended doxing the firefighters, then torching all of their homes.

    •  just a note on trailer homes, unless their (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      in the Trees, erush1345

      construction has changed in the last 20 years, are very susceptible to fire and very easily destroyed as they are very cheaply built (2x2 trusses and 2x4 sills and joists) and have a tendency for several reasons to burn hot and to burn quickly.  Fires in stick built homes frequently lead to a loss of the property and contents and trailer homes are several notches below that level

      •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

        Firefighters call trailers "horizontal chimneys" for this exact reason.  

        The reporting from The Young Turks that I linked above is a castle in the sky, tethered to the earth only by the sounds of their voices.  They cockamamie analysis they provided was so inflammatory, so divorced from reality, and so offensive, it was literally on par with Glenn Beck if not worse.  And yet this passes for progressive, independent media.

        Would it kill them to understand before talking?  Is there a law against getting an informed opinion before doing an unmanned media drone strike?

  •  Wait A Minute! (0+ / 0-)

    The Mayor of South Fulton said the only reason that Fire equipment (on scene, and manned) was not used was because this family had not paid the $75 annual fee for fire service.

    He further stated that, if the crew had done what they could to stop or contain the fire, it would be a disincentive to pay the fee in the future.

    He said it publicly.

    The people get out alive, without intervention from anyone. It was stated that if they had been in danger, the team would have gone in to get them out.

    But thier home was completely destroyed. The net result, it would seem, is "No harm, no foul!"

    I have never in my life met a firefighter who did their job solely for the money. Ever. We are told they are heroes. You know, like on 9/11. Were the hundreds and thousands of protective services employees gettng overtime pay because of that tragedy?

    Is that what made those brave souls heroes? Really?

    Where were the heroes of South Fulton? Eating lunch? Preparing to roast marshmallows? At a union meeting?

    No. They were on duty, at the scene of a home fire. They did absolutely nothing. There is a very clear and present problem with this scenario. This is not how heroes act, nor is it how they perform their duties to their neighbors. You cannot attempt to put them in any other light. They are not heroes, because they did not do what heroes would do. They were not even firefighters on that day, were they?

    Costs? Is it reasonable to believe that $75 would have covered the costs of their service that day? Absolutely not. Yet, to understand the explanation, if they had but paid the $75 fee, there could possibly have been a differenct and more positive outcome at the end of the day.

    That's what this is about. A family has been permanently and indelibly injured. They lost their entire world, other than each other--which is a significant blessing, believe one who has been there. A hero wouldn't have called the County Clerk to find out if a fee had been paid. If they were, in fact, not authorized to respond, then why did they? For practice?

    Inside the soul, there is a purpose for life. When that purpose displays itself in spite of all other considerations, we refer to those acts as heroic. This occasion had no such moment. I believe that most, if not all Tennesseans would agree with that statement. This is NOT who we are, what we are, or how we live. This was a completely shameful act, perpetrated on those least able (in all likelihood) to either afford or survive their world because of it.

    It was cowardice of the first order. It was absolutely unacceptable behavior, and it is as unjust as one can imagine. It wasn't that they couldn't. IT was that they didn't. Who cares the structural context? "We only work fires we like?" No. Not the firefighters I have known in my lifetime. The Chief should have done his duty. He did not. His crew should have done their duty. They did not. The Mayor should have done HIS duty. HE did not. To attempt to hide behind a $75 fee is insidiously naive.

    "We don't get to choose who we save. We save because that is our duty!" Now, I've heard many a firefighter, or cop, or EMSP say those words. Why? Because that is what heroes do; that is how heroes think. That is how heroes act. Period.

    Even we here in Tennessee know that. Or, at least we used to.

    I am an American citizen. I am a writer. You have been warned.

    by Bud Fields on Fri Dec 16, 2011 at 07:39:53 PM PST

    •  Dear Sir (0+ / 0-)

      I'm going to address the many statements in your post.  

      My question is this:

      "Is that what made those brave souls heroes? "

      Can you define the word "hero" for me? What does it mean to be a hero?

      That's a serious question, I'm not being sarcastic and evasive.

      Thanks
      Xavier Onassis

      •  In Short... (0+ / 0-)
        Inside the soul, there is a purpose for life. When that purpose displays itself in spite of all other considerations, we refer to those acts as heroic.

        It has been said that "Heroes go where angels fear to tread." E. M. Forster

        Heroes are ordinary people who, when the situation in which they find themselves entrenched, calls for the above, do that. They, without thought for themselves, come to the aid of another. Taking a bullet, rushing into desperately impossible circumstatances because it is the "right" thing to do, or other such acts are the mark of a hero. Helping those who cannot help themselves comes to mind.

        I am an American citizen. I am a writer. You have been warned.

        by Bud Fields on Sat Dec 17, 2011 at 04:36:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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