Words of Advice:

"If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It." -- Unknown

“Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level
and then beat you with experience.” -- Mark Twain

"Everything is easy if somebody else is the one doing it." -- Me

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Rural Life

This post takes, as a launching pad, the story of the man's house who was allowed to burn down because he hadn't paid the $75 annual fee to the local fire department.

I have lived in areas that run the gamut from sketchy urban to very rural. Currently, I live in an area that is sort of exurban in that there are still a few working farms around.[1] I live within a town's borders, but there is no town police force.[2] The town is part of a neighboring town's school district. Fire protection is by a volunteer fire department.

I can't praise the volunteers enough. They have to have all of the training of professional firefighters, which is a shitload of training, and many of them also have paramedic certifications. To my mind, volunteer firefighters deserve all of the praise and glory that we give our servicemen and women.

But there is a problem inherent in living outside of the cities and larger towns: If you call for emergency assistance, the response times are long. I now live within earshot of a fire station. Early one morning, as I was feeding the cats, I heard the fire siren go off. Twelve minutes later, I heard the siren of the first truck leaving the station. Add in the time it took to drive to wherever they were going and get set up, well, that's a long time to have your home on fire.[3] (In their defense, they do have paramedics on duty, so if you call for a medical emergency, those folks roll immediately.)

I lived for a time in a rural county that had one state patrol car on duty at night. If you called for an emergency, even if the officer had responded with a high-speed lights-and-siren run, it could be as long as 20 or 30 minutes before he showed up, and that was if he wasn't busy at another call. You might get lucky and a town cop or another state trooper might show under mutual assistance. In that town, the unofficial motto of the volunteer fire department was "we've never lost a cellar hole."

I have had personal experience with calling the cops in my current location for a trouble call, and that one was an incident where two people were beating the shit out of each other right out in the parking lot. It was at least a quarter-hour before a cop came by and by then the combatants had given up and limped away.

Living away from the city has its charms. It's usually quiet. You can look out your window and see the green of forests, marshes or grasslands. Muggings are rare. Life seems slower. Other than you have to have a car or two, it's less costly to live here.[4] On the other hand, if you want good coffee (not Dunkin Donuts) or food other than American, pizza or Chinese, you are shit out of luck or you make it yourself. If you want to see an indie film or a documentary, you'd best join Netflix and you're not going to be browsing through quaint bookstores.

The biggest drawback is that you are often on your own for a first response in an emergency. You need a good first-aid kit, fire extinguishers (depending on your home size, at least a few) and a gun. For you cannot count on help arriving in time to do more than clean up.

[1] Horse farms don't count.
[2] 911 calls go to the county sheriff's dispatcher. If people around here call for the cops, they almost universally pray that the state police show up, not the sheriff's deputies.
[3] That assumes that the first truck is a tanker truck. If a tanker truck doesn't respond and the first truck is either a ladder truck or engine truck, then all they can do is make sure that everyone is out and then watch the fire spread.
[4] City folk have been known to load up on groceries here before heading home because the prices are cheaper and the selection is more varied.


lisahgolden said...

As soon as we can, we're moving back to civilization.

Chuck Pergiel said...

Hey! Someone else who makes typos! That makes me feel better! Assuming they were typos.

Why the preference for the State Police? Something wrong with the Sheriff's office?

Having to wait for a tanker truck full of water sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Anonymous said...

If you want it all, move to the Shelburne Falls, Ma. area. 30 minutes from a small airport. 45 from Northampton and an indie theater. Good restaurants, book stores, co-op food. Oh, the list goes on. Just bragging, I mean saying.

Eck! said...

For those that push the responsibility on to others it's a severe handicap for them. So it means to live there you have to take responsibility for oneself and family and make the effort.


Comrade Misfit said...

Charles, the deputies are widely regarded here as varying between unprofessional through brutal and sometimes corrupt. The staties are viewed as pros.

Hawkridge, MA is out. Go read Eck's entries on 2 in the Heart, 1 in the Head on MA gun laws if ou need to know why.

Anonymous said...

E-B Misfit,

That isn't true. You need to take a course on gun safety (one afternoon) pay $100 to your town. Get a security check and you can have a License to carry. Nothing else needed. Then go buy your .22. The only part I haven't done is buy the gun. The LTC lasts for 5 years.

Eck! said...


Been here 27 years.. That gun course is not free, or I haven't found one that is. I have found cases where the local Police chief put additional burdens like gun club memberships and the like. We are a may issue state and those are the varied rules. Also I'm in the eastern part of the state (outside 128) and Mis Fit is quite aware of the area. Bottom line is that further west is likely less nutty.

No matter that fire and safety becomes a personal responsibility as 10minutes likely more separates one from assistance so in many things what you do for yourself is critical to the general outcome.


Anonymous said...

My point. I pointed to a W. Mass community that fit her needs not the eastern part where I work. I did not mean to say that the course is free. But it wasn't outrageous either. I've been here 50+ years, not that it matters.

Eck! said...


It matters where you've been. You have something to compare to good or bad.

Its important when you've helped to fight a local wild fire. You did because all them trees between your place, your neighbors and the fire were at risk. Locals (I mean those that live there most of their lives) used to have water tanks for firefighting and watering livestock or fields in drought because it was the right thing to do.

Its fine area out there, been there many times. But compared to he parts of PA I knew that was suburban. Back in PA it was no joke to say if I wanted a stick of gum, or a beer it was more than 5 miles one way, the nearest town with a supermarket was 11 miles. That's rural.


Anonymous said...


What you describe is where I live (although I don't understand the fire references--we are all voluntary here and the response time is amazingly fast).

Eck! said...


How long to reach Hog Hollow road between east Buckland and Ashfield
just the other side of the hill form Town? Heck your less than 10mi from Greenfield and Turners falls. My idea of remote would have you near
the Dubuque state forest about 8miles as the crow files west of there.

Your not in the boonies as the nearest highway is 91 and less than 10mi.

I was a good ride to the Ho Chi Min trail (AKA RT209 to non truckers) as it was dangerous with a 30-55 mph speed and dropoffs.

Join me on One in the heart.. and we can talk about the upside of roral areas too.


Anonymous said...


You don't know where I live. Your mileage is way off. Enough said.