In tea party town would fire fighters watch as houses burn?

Last week the nation saw a preview of life in an America as envisioned by ultra-right tea party types – a country where everything will be “privatized,” more frightening than anything the cinema has to offer.

The nation saw Gene Cranick’s home burned to the ground last week, consuming his three dogs and a cat.

Across the U.S. fearless fire fighters arriving at similar scenes, survey the situation and jump into action, risking their own lives to save the lives and property of others.

Not the privately owned fire department of South Fulton, Tennessee. They arrived on the scene and they watched until Cranick’s dogs and cat were dead and his house was gone.

Cranick admits he forgot to pay a $75 annual service fee that would, under fire company policy, have provided him with protection.

Talking about his pets, Cranick told MSNBC, “They coulda’ been saved if they put water on it. But they didn’t do it.

“They put water on the fence out there. They never said nothing to me. Never acknowledged. They stood out there and watched it burn.”

The fire fighters pulled out their hoses but left them on the ground until the fire spread to a neighbor’s field, a neighbor who had paid the fee. When they finished spraying down the neighbor’s field they climbed back onto their trucks and drove away, flames still flickering over the last remains of Cranick’s house, his dogs and his cat.

The fire reportedly broke out in some barrels outside of Cranick’s house. As the flames crept closer to his home he begged the firemen to turn on their hoses, offering to pay them whatever they wanted. The pleas fell on deaf ears.

Cranick’s wife, Paulette, said she doesn’t blame the firefighters. “They’re doing what they are told to do. It’s not their fault,” she said on local television.

The mayor of South Fulton, David Crocker, showed no compassion.

“It (fire fighting) is a service that is offered,” he said. “Either they buy it or they don’t.”

Glenn Beck, on national television, defended the decision to let the house burn down and to let the animals die.

“If they put out his fire,” Beck said, “that would be allowing him to sponge off someone who paid the fee.”

Think Progress noted: “There are currently two competing versions of governance in the United States. One, the conservative vision, believes in the on-your-own society, and informs a policy agenda that primarily serves the well off and privileged sectors of society. The other vision, the progressive one, believes in an American Dream that works for all people, regardless of their racial, religious, or economic background.

It was the conservative vision that was on full display last week in Obion County, Tennessee.”

Photo: screen shot from video of smoldering ruins of Cranick home,



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.