Tenn. Firefighters Could be Liable for 'Pay for Spray'

A controversial "pay for spray" policy in Obion County, Tenn. that made national headlines now includes a change that makes firefighters liable if a mistake is made.

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Residents who live outside the city's limits and don't pay a $75 yearly rural fire subscription fee, firefighters are forced to let their house burn.

According to WPSD-TV, if someone who paid the fee is left off the database and firefighters let that home burn, those same firefighters could be held responsible.

"In a perfect world, this wouldn't be in place," Obion County Fire Chief Jamie Evans told the news station.

He said that he hates the policy and worries that someday, a big mistake could be made.

"There's a potential out there that we could decline a call from someone who actually filled out that contract and paid for the service," he said. "That's our fear."

Evans said that while his department is required to check the computer database before responding to a fire, they are not responsible for putting the names in there. That is done by the county clerk.

He's now worried that under the new county contract; his department would become liable if someone's name is left off the list.

"I can't edit it," he said. "I can't do anything but access and look at it, so I really don't think it should be my responsibility to take the blame."

County budget chair Danny Jowers who said the reason why the agreement includes the part that says the county would be held harmless in an error is because the county's attorney said something like that needs to be in there.

Despite that, he said that if a mistake were made, it's likely everyone involved would be sued.