Okay here's the story. I am a career FF in a medium sized city. I have been appointed to the Union's 1710 committee to look at ways of implementing it.
There is a comment that comes up over and over from members of the FD..."If the city doesn't adopt 1710 they will still be held liable for the standard and can be successfully sued for non-compliance." Is that true? I don't believe it is. Does anyone know of any FD that was successfully sued for not adopting a standard and thereby being in non-compliance with that standard? I don't want anecdotal info here I want names of FD's or cities involved.
Before anyone jumps on me and says he must be anti 1710...I am not. But what I don't want to do is try to use a tactic for pushing compliance that is false and will make us look bad.
I believe in order to be held liable the standard must be adopted by either your city or state or be a federal law. If I am way off base here someone straighten me out.
I plan to post this on several forums so I don't miss any opinions.
If you aren't comfortable giving info on here please e-mail me.
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07-25-2001, 05:31 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
What is your liability if you don't adopt 1710 or any other standard?“The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing, and becomes nothing. He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn and feel and change and grow and love and live.” Leo F. Buscaglia
This place gets weirder and weirder every day...
07-27-2001, 12:21 PM #2
Not being familiar with american law, offhand I would say that by not adapting it a smart lawyer would be able to get a larger dollar settlement by showing that the city was negligent by not complying with the standard
07-27-2001, 03:33 PM #3
- Join Date
- Sep 2000
- Westchester Co., NY USA
I'd have to agree with Smoke. If something were to happen, and your dept. was sued in civil court. You could be held accountable by a jury, when the arguing lawyer, explains that NFPA is a "standard" that is adopted by vast members of the fire service, and fire service manufacturers and other contributing parties. I had an EVOC instructor who was the head instructor for the NY State Police, who had cited a few civil cases involving traffic accidents and the driver/dept. was also found partially negligent based on the NFPA standard, and NY isn't a "NFPA State." I cannot remember the case names unfortunately.
The above is my opinion only and doesn't reflect that of any dept/agency I work for, deal with, or am a member of.
07-30-2001, 01:05 PM #4
- Join Date
- Mar 2001
- Norfolk, VA USA
I agree with all of the comments previously made, though I'm not a lawyer. In the absence of law, an "industry standard" or "best practice" can be used in a civil case. Since 1710 has been passed by NFPA, I would think it would now be considered an "industry standard" and "best practice."
I do recall reading an article where the survivors of two FDNY firefighters were suing the city over not providing NFPA compliant personal protective equipment (turnout gear for you non-safety officers out there.) To the best of my recollection, I believe that New York City settled out of court, and the mayor admitted that the city was negligent by not following NFPA in this instance (this was about a year and a half ago, I believe.)
07-30-2001, 02:59 PM #5
- Join Date
- May 2001
Take this one step further. Has your city excepted "other" NFPA standards as the norm? (i.e. 1500) If so, I feel a city could be held even more accountable. Also, is your state a NFPA state? If it is, I beleive it would be easier to justify NFPA 1710. Just food for thought.
08-16-2001, 11:56 AM #6
- Join Date
- Apr 1999
- Wadsworth, OH USA
Fyred Up -
Good luck on your efforts to implement 1710. As far as Ohio goes, we are not an OSHA state and the state law gives municipalities and other government agencies a great deal of immunity from prosecution or liability. It really depends on how your state approaches safety for FF. In Ohio, every goverment agency must comply with Ohio's version of OSHA EXCEPT police and fire. Isn't that great?
We only have the state's specific laws regarding firefighting to help us, and those laws really only pertain to the minimum level of equipment a FF must be provided by the department/city. Manning and deployment is definitely not covered.
So, to answer your question, in Ohio a department/city can not be sued for not complying with a standard set by an agency other than the state itself. Thus, for us NFPA 1710 is just a reference we can use to get our point across. Legally and liability wise, it gives us nothing to stand on.
Check with your union attorney or city attorney for a legal opinion and if you're not happy with that you should be able to ask the State Attorney General for a legal opinion. BTW, the attorney general's opinion will carry a lot of weight if you ever have to go to court. But, don't be surprised if the opinion actually hurts your cause. Watch out for what you ask - you just may get the shaft!
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