A man's house burned to the ground and his cats and dogs died because he did not pay a $75 annual fee to the fire department.
The man's home is located outside the county line. For about the last decade, the fire department in the neighboring county offered fire service for an annual $75 fee. This homeowner did not pay the fee. When he called 9-1-1, the operator said his location did not appear on their list and therefore the fire department could not go to the scene of his house fire. The man offered to pay the fee in cash when the fire department arrived. This is against policy because if that were the case, only those homeowners whose homes were on fire would ever pay the fee.
The fire department did arrive on the scene when the man's neighbor called as the fire had leapt across the property line. The fire men only contained the fire on the neighbor's property as they had paid the $75 fee.
Gosh, that sounds really harsh and unfair. But I get it. It costs money to put out a fire. More money than any of us realize. We are always shocked when we hear the fire department wants to charge someone for starting a brush fire that costs millions to get under control. By having everyone pay into a fund, the fire department can, I don't know, get new brakes on their truck, pay the fire men, get new fire suits every few years so the fire men don't burn because you threw a lit cigarette on dry grass in August?
I do empathize with the homeowner who lost so much. But I think it is a good lesson to all of us that there are fees for a reason. It's not just a money grabbing scheme. There could be a valid reason for charging what we feel is a foolish charge.