Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Privatizing Fire Fighting

One of the dirty little secrets Republicans have been hiding is that they have been fighting to privatize fire protection services across the country. Hundreds of communities across the country offer fire and paramedic services by subscription.

The notorious Obion, TN fire department, which will only put out fires if you have prepaid for the service, is not alone. Privatizing fire (and police) protection has been a major cause of the conservative movement. They don't brag about it because they know the public would be outraged at the idea, but they are working towards that goal step by step.
  • "Few people stop to think that completely eliminating governmental funding for police and fire departments could result in a large increase in public welfare and safety" ~ Americanly Yours
  • "Turn every fire department into a private company. Allow competition from other companies. And charge for services." ~ CalWatchdog
  • "the entire incident [Obion] is a great libertarian success story" ~ Livejournal
  • Talk About Not Understanding The Free Rider Problem ~ Iconic Midwest
  • “Our philosophy is simple.  People should die if they can’t afford fire care, and they should go broke if their house burns down.  Let the free market decide.” ~ angrytownhall (These guys are probably being sarcastic but the problem with modern radical conservatives is you can't be sure.) 
This is really just part of the conservative desire to return to the Founding Fathers in all things fair or foul. In the early days of the Republic, fire protection was on a subscription only basis. You would pay an insurance company and place their shield (above) on your house. If your house caught fire private fire brigades would compete to be the first ones to put out the fire and get paid by the insurance company. Really a lot like the current HMO health system.

If there were no fires the private fire brigades would not be paid, which certainly led to commercially profitable arson.

It was those damn socialist French who came up with the idea of paid professionals who would put out every fire as a civic service. It wasn't until the latter half of the 19th century that fire fighting became a civil responsibility in the United States. Mutual aid, where fire department help each other, is a young concept that conservatives are determined to kill.

Other links: Kalamazoo to privatize fire protection,  Is Burning Home Sign of Tea Party America, John Galt Joins the Fire Brigade, Private Fire Protection Fails (NY Times)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Didn't that Commie, Ben Franklin, establish a mutual assistance fire company in 1736? He was a black sheep of the founders, I suppose.

KnightErrant said...

Franklin also began free public libraries, he screwed around shamelessly, and liked the French.

Anonymous said...

Damn Commie. He was probably a Muslim too, and a feminazi, vegetariansocialist, Obama-lover. Oh, and a Founding Father (the only one to have signed the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris, and the Constitution), who disagreed with various parts of the Constitution yet signed it anyway and helped others to reach compromises on issues of dispute so that the nation would have a constitution. He was bitterly disappointed that some refused to sign. What would he think of the refusal of our current lot of legislators to reach compromises all in the name of party power?

Anonymous said...

No.
It is no secret and it definitely is not dirty… or little. Conservatives (translation: those who pay taxes) would like to privatize as much bloated government bureaucracy as possible.
Fire and Emergency Medical Services are a critical to communities. This fact has been the excuse for waste, fraud, boondoggles and Union manipulation for decades ( http://fdnyemswebsite.com/ http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/paid_for_no_wheezin_jbt34b3pBFo4vbmWHn1DGO
http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/golden_fire_exit_Xgr8HobTyGE09gtAHLZLtM
).

“ If there were no fires the private fire brigades would not be paid, which certainly led to commercially profitable arson.”

That was a silly and misleading statement. Modern private fire fighting companies do not get paid per fire (http://www.ruralmetro.com/partner_partnerships.asp http://www.pgs-usa.com/fire.htm http://www.amr.net/Contracted-Services.aspx ).

For many municipalities the overhead required to provide basic emergency services is prohibitive. Then calculate extended medical, pension and liability costs of the necessary work force and forget about it! Brining in a private company that takes on all these risks with the agreement of performance marks and it’s a home run. Maybe this was the dirty little secret you were actually referring to?

Rather than HMO’s, the better comparison would be charter schools vs. public schools… or UPS/FedEx vs. USPS… or my own investments and retirement planning vs. the broken social security system… or my own health insurance and health savings account vs. Medicaid…

I’m sick and tired of leftist lies that conservatives want your house to burn down… especially if you’re poor or a skin color different from mine! I thought conservatives were the “fear mongers”.

I am a FDNY Paramedic for 14 years now. I would like to compete for better salary and benefits based on performance and merit instead of being handcuffed by pattern bargaining. I would like coworkers who cannot perform this job to find another job instead of being coddled and protected by ancient civil service arrangements while they murder patients and risk my safety.
I would like to get my money’s worth as tax payer for once!

I would like government to be accountable to the tax payers, not unions led by and in league with avowed communists ( including my union AFSCME-AFLCIO http://www.onenationworkingtogether.org/organizations ).

gothammedic@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Ever notice how alll fire departments are primarily white? Ocassional token non-white here or there, but it seems obvious they reserve these soft easy money spots for those who fit their ideal for their "fraternity".
And the pay/benefit package!!! This is an industry which needs privitization, let alone austerity.
If not for that family those three men would still be alive.
How many have to die? If another loses his life will this stop?