Until a few years ago, [Fulton's fire department] would not respond to any fires outside of the city limits — which is to say, the city limited its jurisdiction to the city itself, and to city taxpayers. A reasonable position. Then, a few years ago, a fire broke out in a rural area that was not covered by the city fire department, and the city authorities felt bad about not being able to do anything to help. So they began to offer an opt-in service, for the very reasonable price of $75 a year. Which is to say: They greatly expanded the range of services they offer. The rural homeowners were, collectively, better off, rather than worse off. Before the opt-in program, they had no access to a fire department. Now they do.
And, for their trouble, the South Fulton fire department is being treated as though it has done something wrong, rather than having gone out of its way to make services available to people who did not have them before. The world is full of jerks, freeloaders, and ingrates — and the problems they create for themselves are their own.
I live in Tennessee in the Blount County Fire Protection District. Fire department coverage here in the county is not automatic. I just paid my $110 annual fire subscription. If I don’t pay and the fire department gets two calls – one from a subscriber and one from a non-subscriber – they give preference to the subscriber. If they do fight a fire for a non-subscriber they bill $2,200 for the first two hours and $1,100/hour afterwards.
Paying the annual subscription makes good financial sense, but I don’t have a choice to not pay. My homeowners insurance policy is conditional on my paying for fire protection, and my mortgage is conditional on my having homeowners insurance.