With the left-wing chattering classes still abuzz over the fire department that let a man’s house burn in Tennessee, I felt that it was important to debunk that this was anything like a “free-market” situation.
While my perspective is laid out in the posting above, I saw an interesting article from John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute over at National Review Online. Berlau adds “fuel to the fire,” so to speak by showing how unionized fire departments have, in the past, allowed fires to burn in order to maximize salary and other concessions. The money quote from Berlau that sums up the issue nicely is as follows:
The answer is federalism. States and local communities should decide what is best for themselves in protecting residents from fire. This could include contracting out to private fire services, allowing insurance companies to create fire brigades for their home-insurance policy holders (my Competitive Enterprise Institute colleague Iain Murray has written on how this worked in the 19th century), or letting homeowner associations contract for fire protection in the same way they often do for services such as garbage collection.
But as with health care, liberals want to take away federalism in fire protection and force all American communities into a one-size-fits-all unionized model. The biggest congressional priority of the IAFF over the past few years has been the so-called Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, which would force unionization and collective bargaining on every one of the nation’s local fire departments.