Vicky Bell from Tennessee and her boyfriend stood helplessly by and watched their home and valuables go up in flames because a team of firefighters refused to help – as they had not paid their “subscription fees”.
The couple managed to escape from their trailer home but did not have time to grab many personal belongings.
Vicky Bell said the blaze was terrifying – but almost as shocking was seeing fire trucks sitting in the distance and doing nothing to help.
Rural residents who want to be protected by the fire officers in their nearby town of South Fulton must pay a $75 annual subscription.
South Fulton Mayor David Crocker told Local 6 WPSD that if they don’t collect fire fees, the fire department can’t survive – and if they make exceptions to the rule, no one will ever pay the fee.
However, Mayor David Crocker added that they will always help when people are in danger.
The local fire department refused to comment on the fees.
Vicky Bell said she did know about the fees but just didn’t think a fire would ever happen to her.
The woman told local TV station WPSD: “911 said they [the fire department] were in fact dispatched and they showed that they were on the scene.
“You could look out my mom’s trailer and see the trucks sitting at a distance.”
On the South Fulton Fire Department website their mission statement reads that “the mission… is to protect the lives and property of its citizens, and provide good public relations through fire safety education to all businesses and schools”.
October was fire awareness month at the station.
The home of Gene Cranick who also lives outside the city limits, burned down last October.
Gene Cranick said he had forgotten to pay the fee and begged firemen with money to put out the fire but they refused. His three dogs and a cat were killed and Gene Cranick and his wife Paulette lost their home.