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    Post Deceased fireman's family gets workers' comp



    BOUND BROOK, N.J. (AP) - The family of a volunteer firefighter
    who fell and broke his hip at age 93 is entitled to $118,000 in
    workers' compensation pay, a state appeals court has ruled.
    Frank Capano joined the Bound Brook volunteer fire company in
    1918, and was still on the active roster in February 1994 when he
    fell at the firehouse.
    He died in 1999 at age 99, and had long ago stopped going to
    fires. But he still logged numerous hours cleaning the firehouse,
    tending the wood-burning stove, socializing with members and
    donning his uniform for department functions.
    "While petitioner may have been given no direct firefighting
    duties or assignments ... as a member of the volunteer fire
    department, (he) was performing a `public fire duty' by virtue of
    his `maintenance' of the firehouse," the decision read.
    The appellate judges recommended that the state Legislature look
    at the statute that provides workers' compensation benefits to
    volunteer firefighters and rescue workers to determine which
    activities should be covered by disability.
    "The issue isn't the man's age, the issue is what activities
    that benefit a fire company are going to be covered for workers'
    compensation, and which ones aren't," Capano's attorney, Theodore
    Gast, told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Wednesday's editions.
    Capano was alone and stoking the stove on Feb. 19, 1994, when he
    fell off a ledge that the stove sat on and broke his hip. His
    granddaughter and her husband, Bruce Gorski, then the fire
    company's first lieutenant, found him.
    Capano suffered a permanent disability, according to testimony
    in the case, and underwent partial hip replacement surgery. He
    moved into a nursing home, and had to use a wheel chair. Yet he
    still dressed in uniform for official pictures at the department's
    annual inspection.
    "He was active until the day of his accident," Gast said. "I
    think it was a combination of an old-time sense of civic duty and
    responsibility, as well as it becoming just a very, very important
    part of his social life."
    About a year ago, a workers' compensation judge awarded Capano's
    family $118,153 for his temporary and permanent disability. The
    fire company, represented by an attorney for Bound Brook's joint
    insurance fund, appealed.

    (Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Last edited by NJFFSA16; 12-19-2002 at 04:40 AM.
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