Oh brother: “Free Market Fire Department?”

Recently, in Tennessee, a man’s house caught fire. The man lives in a rural area of the county where, if you want your house protected against fire, you pay a $75 fee annually. The guy didn’t pay the fee and the firemen let the house burn. The full story can be found here.

Sounds awful, right? It certainly is and we at the Rio Grande Foundation have never come out opposed to publicly-financed fire departments as our friends on the left seem to imply. Local governments can and should experiment with policy solutions and if the local folks want to pay for the fire department using an “insurance” model, that is their right. As an aside, I believe the fire department in Tennessee that watched this house burn was still a government fire department!

What should have happened or would have happened in a privatized world? I would think that in order to win a new customer, gain positive publicity for their company (remember, they’re competing in a free market), and do something good for someone in need, that a private fire department would have put the fire out and then billed the guy later.

Private fire departments can succeed. We at RGF don’t fight that battle because at $75 a year, if government was limited to fire, roads, ambulance, and police, I’d be a happy camper. Leave it to the lefties to make this stuff up.

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3 Replies to “Oh brother: “Free Market Fire Department?””

  1. I support the fire department’s decision. It’s like insurance, you want coverage, you pay. The homeowner still has his $75. He thought he could “freeload” and get away with it. I’ll bet he doesn’t have homeowners insurance either.

    You think a private fire department would have saved it. Speculation. The way I see it, a whole bunch of “freeloaders” will rush to cough up their $75 for fire coverage now.

    Funny, I always thought “personal responsibility” was a core principle of conservatism. And it appears those lefties on the Tennessee fire department thought so too.

  2. I think that’s pretty reasonable.

    It’s a similar system for people who camp and hike. It’s possible to buy insurance in case one needs rescuing (not sure if you can in NM, but you can in CO). If you need rescuing, they will still save your life but you will be billed for the expense. Otherwise the insurance pays it.

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