Thread: New York FF Lawsuit Settled!
06-13-2001, 09:14 AM #1SFD-129-3Firehouse.com Guest
New York FF Lawsuit Settled!
According to the home page, the family of the Buffalo FF severely injured during a structure fire has settled with the owner's insurance company. Apparently they were able to convince them the owner was aware of faulty wiring that caused the fire. During the course of venting the roof, which was discovered to have 6(!!) layers of shingles, the roof collapsed and trapped the firefighter in question.
My question is this: Wouldn't the roof hazard be more of an unusual or negligent condition on the part of the home owner? I wouldn't look at the actual cause of the fire as the cause of his injuries. The rafters were also found to be undersized and overspaced.
Don't get me wrong, I am glad this brother firefighter and his family will be taken care of, but isn't this suing the person for causing the fire that is our job to extinguish? I am fully aware of the hazards of the job and willingly do it.
06-13-2001, 10:12 AM #2FF's SignfOthrFirehouse.com Guest
Yes, you willingly do the job and expect to put out fires, but.... Think of the firefighter killed when the truck rolled over on the way to an arson fire. The arsonist knew he was creating a hazardous situation and disregarded the consequences of the sequence of events that could follow. The homeowners that knowingly let a faulty wiring situation exist also created a hazardous situation that ultimately lead to the fireman's severe injuries. It could have easily been the death of the occupants too. People need to be responsible for their actions and/or negligence. If I don't bother to remove the ice from my sidewalk in winter I am responsible for the injuries that may occur.
If they had not known about the faulty wiring (and really did not know about the roof conditions), then it would truly have been an accident. Then I would agree that the fireman died while knowingly facing the hazards of the job he was trained for.
I worry enough about my boyfriend, knowing the hazards he faces every day, without the added dangers that are created by negligence.
Stay safe out there.
[This message has been edited by FF's SignfOthr (edited 06-14-2001).]
06-13-2001, 11:30 AM #3Lewiston2CaptFirehouse.com Guest
The problem is in proving that the homeowner was negligent (had knowledge of) in the condition of the roof supporting members. The six layers of shingles was not against code at the time of the incident so it isnt negligence. But, because several complaints were filed with the homeowner it can be proven that they had knowledge of faulty wiring and the hazard it posed (negligence). I am glad to see that the family of Don Herbert is getting money the deserve.
Shawn M. Cecula
Lewiston Fire Co. No. 2
06-13-2001, 07:03 PM #4ResqCapt19Firehouse.com Guest
If this ruling is going to be the law of the land then the propery owner must be given the right to prevent firefighters from enterning the building.
06-14-2001, 01:56 AM #5Eng522ineFirehouse.com Guest
ResqCapt... I disagree. The home owner is responsible to make repairs as needed in order to keep the home safe. Homeowner's insurance companies would be very selective of who they insured if the day came when a person had the right to keep the FD out of their burning house! The potential liability that comes with owning a home is the entire reason they are insured. Basically the policy was used for it's intended purpose. The owner KNEW of a hazardous condition that existed, that condition caused a fire, that fire caused the firefighter to get severely injured. It's all cause and effect. Had he NOT known that there was an existing hazardous condition, I doubt the insurance company would have settled. Just the fact that an insurance company willingly parted with money should give you an idea of how they feel the case would have turned out.
06-15-2001, 01:51 AM #6Tillerman-6Firehouse.com Guest
As a firefighter in NY who doubles as a code enforcement officer, I can say that this new ruling is a very good thing. It gives teeth to the regulations we hand down to property owners (and tenants too in the case of their negligence). We can now show a direct cause and effect relationship to the NY building codes, and even the local zoning laws, and the reason we enforce them. Life safety, plain and simple. And not just firefighters but the people who live in the effected properties as well. The rescue of trapped victims is usually hindered by the same problems found in the Buffalo fire.
A direct line can be drawn from almost every safety rule in the Code Book to a death or injury in NY. One memorable one is the Happyland Social Club fire in NYC. That tragic fire created sweeping changes in exit laws and public assembly regulations in NY. And now people are safer because of upholding those laws.
The tragedy in Buffalo will be remembered for a long time in NY. We will try and make this ruling stick and hold more delinquent property owners to their responsibilities. Not to be jerks but to save lives. I look forward to being able to tell a property owner exactly why he has to fix the hand railings on the stairs and keep exits clear and then show him what could happen to him if he doesn't.
And to ResqCapt19 look back at the Catholic School fire in Chicago years ago that killed so many children for an incident that changed laws in your home state.
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