This story is a good example of why certain goods should be public goods and not private goods.
The rural residents of Obion County, Tennessee do not have a public firefighting service. They do have access to South Fulton's service (a city in the county), but they have to pay a $75 fee to be able to use it. And, as Gene Cranick, a rural resident, learned last week, if you do not pay the fee, the fire department will not help you. They will stand and watch your home burn down. And they will not let you pay the fee on the spot either, as Gene offered, as they do not want people to think they can just pay the fee when they need the fire department.
Two points: (1) This is why taxes should be mandatory. (2) This is why certain goods- such as police and fire protection- should be public goods, not private. Make everyone pay so that if something tragic like this happens, they have access to help.