1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question can or has volunteer fire departments be sued?

    Can you tell me if this has happened? And where do you look to see if it can happen in your state?

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Anyone can be sued for anything at anytime.
    Whether the lawsuit will go anywhere however is something you need to discuss with an attorney familiar with the laws in your state.

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Yes, a volunteer fire dept. can be sued. If you check with your department's insurance company, I am sure they will advise you of this possibility. I am familiar with a type of insurance that is called Volunteer Fireman's Errors and Ommissions coverage. This is in case, for example, your dept responds to a structure fire, extinguishes it with minimal damage, but gets called back out for a "rekindle" in which the structure burns to the ground. This coverage protects the fire dept against that type of negligence claim. Whether you are a township, municipal, or private fire company, you are very susceptible to lawsuits at any time.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Not sure what the ins and outs are, but did hear of a case where a V.F.D. was called to a srtucture fire and nobody responded. the house burned to the ground and the owner sued the FD. Lawyers proved that the FD had a duty to act even if the excuses where good, example, everyone was at work or at school etc. The owner won the suit and the FD had to pay out, or the govt. You never no what these lawyers are going to find!

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Question 1: Was there a duty to act or a service that you were obligated to provide?

    Question 2: Was that breached?

    Answer..if the answer to number 2 was yes..then the person likely has a case against you.

    Obviously we live in a world of variables so we can never say for sure. Negligence is also a factor. National, state, and local standards will come into play in alot of these cases. Of you do not follow a std and are caught on it after an act of "wrongdoing"..thats one up for the opponent!

  6. #6
    Bob Snyder
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The degree to which suits can be pressed against volunteer organizations varies from state to state, but I know of no blanket immunity from lawsuits.

    For example, PA has "good samaritan" statutes on the books that protect anyone from liability when rendering aid to another as long as they (1) can show that they are trained (and certified, if appropriate) for what they are doing, (2) act in accordance with accepted practice for the situation, and (3) meet the state's legal standards for "reasonableness" and "due care and caution" in cases where there are no accepted practices or training and certification could not be reasonably expected. However, negligence is not covered. We (my VFC) also carry a few million dollars of "errors and ommissions" insurance to cover us in case of both outright mistakes and things in the "gray areas".

    The most common area where suits are pushed, of course, revolves around traffic accidents. Don't let the lights & sirens bit fool you either. In PA, the statute requires that the operator of an emergency vehicle use "due caution" even when operating with warning devices. People who have had crashed into emergency vehicles have won lawsuits because the EVO couldn't meet the standard for "due caution" in what he/she was doing.

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest



  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    There is a case in Canada where a FD was sued for failing to respond in a timely fashion. In Canada much like the USA, anybody can sue anything. Ultimately though it is the taxpayer who foots the bill. So then, it becomes a case of due diligence. Has the department provided a service within the guidelines of it's by-law and if so, has that service been provided with appropriate measures. If the answer is yes, then don't sweat it.

  9. #9
    ff emt-p bleve
    Firehouse.com Guest


    ASK Dateline NBC .John Q call us to made something good happen out of something bad and well, we do not always win the battle like our tv counter parts and then JOHN
    Q citizen sues.Just keep your heads high and do what were trained to do and put rest in the lords hands. Where in touch, so your in touch.(dateline NBC).The peacock is such colorfully bird,however its sense of timing is bad causing it to have a very lackluster appearence.

    [This message has been edited by ff emt-p bleve (edited December 14, 1999).]

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    I can't recall the details, but a fire department is being sued by a man for not saving his wife from a dwelling fire. I can't recall where or if it was a volley or career crew. I do recall that the OIC didn't permit a search of the dwelling for it being too involved and it was unsafe for his personal to enter. The gentleman sueing didn't feel that the fire dept. did all it could to save his wife. Some professions felt that he was doing this for him living and his wife dieing in the fire. He made it out, so why didn't he take her w/ him when he escaped. They believed that this was his way of putting the blame onto someone else.

    David DeCant
    Originally Mantua,NJ
    Presently Lindenwold,NJ(I'm not a member of any of this District's dept's.)

  11. #11
    Mal Miller
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The most common source of lawsuits against vol. fire departments is from two areas. The first is traffic accidents. Don't believe for a second that lights and sirens protect you. The second is from firefighters and/or their spouses from injuries and/or deaths. Be very sure that your insurance protects your members, particularily officers from this kind of suit as well as protecting the department. The suits usually claim negligence at the fire or training scene that leads to the injury or death. There have also been suits over sending firefighters into situations they were not well trained for. Sit down with your attorney and insurance agent and do a liability check up and buy the highest limit and most complete insurance you can get.

  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Red face

    We were sued because our nozzle on one of our two ladder trucks at a apartment house fire did not work properly. Even though it had passed a safety inspection a few weeks earlier.Lawsuit was eventually dropped however b/c the owner didn't pursue legal action in the correct manner. Whew!!!! Don't forget the job we do is a dangerous one. But we can be sued if we don't do it right!!!

    FF J.H. Vandermark
    Vestal Fire Dept.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register