It's completely unreasonable for them to do so. Even if it were a completely privatized fire department, they would be expected to act positively in that situation if they were the only viable firefighting entity in the area.As for the fire situation in the OP - I think it's harder for people to wrap their head around this when emergency services/first responders are seen as a common resource. Police/firefighters/EMS, etc. There is something that seems unfair or uncaring about denying these services to people when the resources are available. Maybe that is just an environmental response when you are taught something is a 'basic right' or you assume will always be readily available to you. So it's hard to wrap my head around denying the 'service' even though I understand intellectually that the fee, which is in lieu of a tax, had not been paid. Also, I can't see firefighters in the states not saving a home because the owners have obviously not been paying their taxes or are say, "undocumented workers" aka illegal immigrants.
People naturally want to reward those who help them, especially if they were in fear of their lives.I remember the fire department had to come out to our house many years ago and kick down our door to respond to a kitchen fire. My mom kept trying to give the firefighters money, for lunch I think, which shocked me. Even as a child I knew something was wrong with a public employee accepting money like that - I remember thinking "Mom, you don't have to do that, that's their job"