Who Hijacked Our Country

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Privatization of Your Fire Department

As you know, it’s been a record year for fires throughout the Western states, especially California. And the fire season has barely begun.

The need for fire safety is on a collision course with the exploding population in fire-prone areas. More and more self-absorbed yuppies are moving to their own private paradise in the woods — right smack in the middle of a potential firestorm. Something's gotta give.

Oh, here's an MSNBC.com article about some changes that will be made because of all these fires. It's about time. More funding for local fire departments would be a good start. And the public needs to be made much more aware of the potential for fire and how to avoid it. In rural areas, newcomers need to be reminded that "you are no longer in downtown San Francisco or L.A. Things are different here. You need to adapt."

And every homeowner is going to have to make a few personal sacrifices so that his/her neighbor won't get killed in a fire. No more of those flammable shake roofs; talk about a no-brainer. And everyone should be required to maintain a firebreak between their house and the nearest vegetation.

These changes are long overdue, but better late than never. Anyway, this article says...WTF?!?!? Private fire protection services for wealthy property owners.

Great. Just fuckin' great. It figures. The Gilded Age lives on and on and on... Hey, if some deadbeat can’t pay for his own fire protection, why should he be coddled by a big slobbering Nanny State? Burn, Hippie! Watch your family DIIIEEE!!!

Socialized fire protection?? Bootstraps buddy.

Janet Upton of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said: “Life has to come first, then property. We know the number of private contractors is on the rise. If they communicate with us, they could be an asset. If not, they’re a big liability.”

One private contractor in Montana, Wildfire Defense Systems Inc., deals exclusively with homes that have a replacement value of $1 million or more. And at least one major insurance company — which has donated millions of dollars in the past to local fire departments — is now underwriting three of these private fire protection contractors.

A spokesman for another insurance company said: “Very wealthy people like to live in places that are naturally perilous. With the fires right now, we’re getting a lot of calls about fire protection.”

Lori Moore-Merrell, a researcher for the International Association of Fire Fighters, said: “In a fire, if there are houses, there is higher risk. We don’t know much about the contractors’ level of training. And fire protection should be available to all citizens regardless of how much money they have.”

Lori, Lori, Lori — that’s sooo twentieth century. Commie! Get used to it! You now live in the Ownership Society.

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger Randal Graves said...

Reminds of me Chief Wiggum.

"No, you've got the wrong number. This is nine one....two."

I laugh, then I realize we're heading down that path. But hey, everyone knows the rich ARE better than us, so we shouldn't be all that surprised. I mean, they have all that nice stuff.

July 17, 2008 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Mike V. said...

it's the fucking gilded age, man. welcome to it!

July 17, 2008 at 10:19 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Randal: Absolutely. If they have bigger houses (and more of them) and better stuff, it means they're more important than everybody else.

Mike: Yup, the Gilded Age all over again. And this one should be even more fun than the one in the late 1800s.

July 17, 2008 at 12:00 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

How long before we have giant, walled-off, super-rich communities with guard towers, dogs, moats, and all the “public” services money can buy? Scientology will be the State religion, and Tom Cruise will be King.

July 18, 2008 at 3:10 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Carlos: Yup, I think it's coming soon. I don't know many details about the America's Gilded Age, or Medieval Europe when everyone was either royalty or a serf, but it sure seems like America is approaching something like that.

July 18, 2008 at 11:14 AM  
Blogger Ricardo said...

Well we have "private" armies in Iraq like Blackwater. It was only a matter of time before this mentality started creeping into something like this. Do I like it? No. So far it seems confined to the rich. Personally I don't see how the property will keep it's value if every other house on the block is a pile of ash but if it makes them feel better...let them knock themselves out. What worries me is this becoming adapted in a broader way. It's only a matter of time before some GOP goof starts trying to push for this as the standard in every state. I can see a bill where the gov gives states some money or a tax break for encouraging private fire fighters and phasing out normal fire departments. This I don't like.

July 18, 2008 at 2:18 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Ricardo: That's exactly it. I don't like where this is headed. We're already heading towards a 2-tier society; we need this shit like a hole in the head.

The Far Right is champing at the bit to eliminate funding for anything and everything that benefits the lowly public. Why would fire protection be any exception?

July 18, 2008 at 7:35 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

What a country of idiots we have become!! In the old days, citizens formed bucket brigades to save burning structures because they realized that every building was important to a society, not just the mansions.
Now we give tax cuts to the wealthy, taking money away from public services so the wealthy can afford their own fire departments while evry one else can just burn. Another salvo in the clas war that we are losing.

July 19, 2008 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Lew: Citizens protecting each other's homes against fire? Sounds like a bunch of communists to me :)

Yes, another salvo in the class war. Next stop -- Medieval Europe.

July 19, 2008 at 11:17 AM  

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