Small rural towns now have to pay for fire protection
OBION COUNTY, Tenn. — Some local rural fire departments have become so strapped for money, they could disappear.
Chief Bob Reavis from the Hornbeak fire department in Obion County, Tennessee, said adding a fire subscription fee will improve training, safety, and response.
You'll remember last year, South Fulton made national headlines after the fire department watched a house burn because the homeowners didn't pay the service fee. Recently, the county commission blocked a plan for a fire tax, so now five rural fire chief's are trying a fire subscription fee instead.
"We were going to have to do something, have more fund-raisers or come up with the money somewhere," said Reavis.
That money came from doing what its neighbors, South Fulton and Union City, did enacting a fire subscription for homeowners in rural areas.
Peg Short is one of them. For years, she's not had to pay for the fire department. They've just always been there.
This year is different. It'll cost her $75 to protect her house.
"Some people feel like they can't afford it but I don't see how they cannot afford it," says Short. "it's $75 a year and that's not much when you consider losing your whole house."
So, she paid it. She doesn't want to end up like the Cranicks, who made made national headlines when firefighters watched their house burn because they didn't pay the fee.
Right now, about 40 percent of the homeowners in Hornbeak still haven't paid and that doesn't sit well with Reavis.
"My main concern is making sure everybody gets covered," he said.
The subscription started July 1 and ends June 30, 2012. You can sign up at any time by going to the Obion County circuit clerks office.