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.)
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)