If my house is on fire, someone will come to put it out, right?

Not necessarily! Every year hundreds of thousands of homes are affected by a house fire or wildfire. Most of us believe that when we call 9-1-1 that the closest fire department will come running. But many are surprised to learn that that's not always true. There are many different types of local fire services and you need to know exactly how the fire service responds for your home.

This news story brought to light that some areas are covered by a fee based fire service. If you pay the  fee to join, the department will fight a fire on your property. If you don't pay, they won't respond. Other departments may require you to pay the full cost of fire services received when you have a fire.  You need to know exactly what your situation is.

This discussion thread reveals a new home owner that needs to mail a check in ASAP:
  • Question:
  • After a year of waiting to sell our Florida house, we are finally living in Knoxville! We recently got a letter from Rural/Metro asking for $400 a year for fire protection. Are they for real? I thought it was a sales letter that could be discarded & almost tossed it. We've never lived anywhere where you have to pay separately for protection. Interesting that they refer to it as protection rather than department or some other less mob-sounding words. Thanks for any insight!
  • Answers:
  • Your insurance company will usually require it or your rates are astronomical. But yes, there is no "public provided" fire service in most of Knox county and surrounding. Bottom line, if you want fire protection you must pay Rural Metro their outlandish fees.
  • If you live in the county, then your taxes are about half of the City. So, if you live in the county, you have to pay for your own trash pick up, and Rural Metro for fire protection. Even after paying those fees, you are still probably less that City taxes. Rural Metro and those fire stations/trucks/people have a cost associated to keep them running. You either pay thru your taxes, or pay direct. The only difference is the name on the check.
Fire is the most common disaster that American families will face. US fire departments responded to 377,000 home fires in 2009, make sure you are as protected as possible. 
  • Make certain you have working smoke detectors with fresh batteries (replace batteries every 6 months.)
  • Check out your home with a fire safety checklist each time you change the smoke alarm batteries.
  • Have a fire escape plan and actually practice your plan at least twice a year. Don't forget to crawl to safety.
  • Make certain everyone in the household knows the outdoor meeting spot.
  • Take special precautions with smoking, cooking, matches and lighters, candles, children, seniors and pets to prevent fires and fire related injury.
  • And call your local fire department today to be certain of their terms of service for your home!

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