Thread: Suing the FD...

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    Default Suing the FD...

    I'd love to know to how this turns out...and hopefully it's not with the Town's insurance carrier's weenie lawyers settling.

    Family sues town for $10 million for student's death in house fire
    The family of Jennifer L. Kane alleges that the Fire Department did not respond in a timely manner and was negligent in locating the nearest hydrant.

    01:00 AM EDT on Saturday, October 25, 2003

    BY ADAM C. HOLLAND
    Journal Staff Writer


    NARRAGANSETT -- The family of a University of Rhode Island student who died in a house fire 15 months ago near Scarborough State Beach filed a $10-million wrongful-death claim this week against the Town of Narragansett, alleging negligence on the town and its Fire Department.

    Jennifer L. Kane, a 21-year-old from Brielle, N.J., died July 17, 2002, in an early morning fire at a house she had been renting at 22 Rhode Island Ave. Her roommate, a fellow URI student, escaped through her bedroom window.

    The Oct. 22 claim -- which was received Thursday at the town clerk's office -- alleges that firefighters were slow in responding to Rhode Island Avenue and subsequent rescue efforts.

    When the first engine arrived, the crew did not stop near the burning house on Rhode Island Avenue, driving instead to a hydrant 900 feet away on Baltimore Avenue. The crew was unaware there was another one about 150 feet away because of an error in its map book, the claim alleges.

    Fire officials later said the first hydrant was still the best choice because of its higher flow rate and relative location to the house. The second hydrant is connected to a narrower water line at the end of Rhode Island Avenue -- a dead-end street.

    According to the claim, the second engine arrived a short time later and parked near the house. Police officers and a bystander then helped to take the hoses off the truck. "For some indefensible reason, the truck either had no water supply, or was not functioning properly and could not deliver water," the claim reads.

    "The Narragansett Fire Department made no useful effort to rescue Jennifer Kane. The department and its employees were negligent and grossly so."

    Claims of negligence include poor response time; outdated engines and equipment; inadequate fire-rescue training; failure to know the locations of all available hydrants, and failure to use proper techniques in responding to this residential house fire.

    About the department:

    http://www.narragansettri.com/townhall/fire.htm
    http://www.geocities.com/local1589/frames.html

    Like many RI departments in that area, Narragansett does have real low staffing levels -- 8 people on duty with 3 Engines, Truck, and 3 ambulances...so a couple bandaid runs and you don't have much left. Sounds like on this fire they probably had 2 2man Engines. But notice, the claim (at least according to the paper) didn't include inadequate staffing.

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    Surely this must be the way to increase department staffing--takeing money from the department!

    State rep. Brad Hill(R) on the public safety commitee came and spoke to our goverment class and I got into a discussion about public safety funding with him.
    Short staffing is going to be a much bigger issue next year than this year in MA. If people thought the cuts were deep this fiscal year,the 04-05 fiscal year budget calls even more deeper cuts and starting off 2 billion in the hole already!

    Boil it down---------its going to get alot worse before it gets better,if your a terrorist come over here Mass. is open for business!

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    Originally posted by stm4710
    Boil it down---------its going to get alot worse before it gets better,if your a terrorist come over here Mass. is open for business!
    Pretty sh***y comment Jesse. I can't believe that even you would type something like this, ok maybe I can, you've said some pretty idiotic things in your time in the forums, but this ranks right up there with some of the worst. Give your head a shake kid.
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    Its true though..........

    The cauffers this town had to avoid layoff's and keep the dept. at BARE staffing are running dry. My town aint the only boat in the no money pond. From what Brad said its the same all over.

    My town is the county seat for alot of special appartus, the foam trailer,Mass Decon unit,County Haz mat vehicle and spare aerial ladder. We have these great Decon trailers-every town with a hospital got one but that trailer cant leave that town. My town got one cause we are the storage yard for the county and the trailer will go everywhere and anywhere with our FF staffing it.

    Half of the 9/11 attack came from here,there have been arrests at Beverly airport of two "arab men" trying to rent a crop duster. We have had alot of anthrax scares some massive,some not. All this is happening with reduced forces in both police and fire. So how do you expect it to get better with even more cuts? Im not all doom and gloom it will get better, but we will be vaunarble for awhile. I pray nothing does happen and we squezze out of this crisis.

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    (not quite on topic)

    stm4710- you are from Danvers I assume? I could tell by the spare county ladder. I live in Beverly, right on the Danvers line, although I'm away at school right now in Waltham.

    Beverly does have it's staffing problems too as you probably know, they were trying to take their one ladder truck out of service.

    Stay Safe-

    Chris
    "Man is the only creature that dares to light a fire and live with it.
    The reason? Because he alone has learned to put it out."
    - Henry Jackson Vandyke Jr. (1852-1933)

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    Oh yes poor Beverly,if they take that company out of service there goes our MA for that end of town,never mind a slooow response to the Airport for crashes,MA to Wenham/Hamilton and that very large section of town includeing 128 and 97 loseing protection.
    They want to take Engine 5 out which is a quint (identical to our Eng.2) they will lose there second ladder. They are going to keep Ladder 1 at HQ still active last time I heard.You guys are lucky though to have the BEMA/FEMA site in your town though.Like I said I hope we squezze by this one with no inncident.

    PS.I live right down by Popes Landing,where are you?

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    Something about that lawsuit sure doesnt sound right.According to thier website..thier Apparatus is all in the late '90's and thier staffing level is around 35.
    Seems to me there has to be other reasons.I kinda have the strange gut feeling thier suing the town simply because they dont want to pay the response bill...OR thier looking for "a quick buck".
    Our MA company near here is frequently involved in lawsuits...and over nothing they did wrong...but simply because they dont want to have to pay the response bill so they look for anything and everything they can to find something..anything to sue over...for the "quick buck" and being this area is VERY low income...these people will try and sue over ANYTHING.Just by luck we havent been "hit" with a suit yet BUT...we HAVE been threatened tho but I simply told the people..."hey,were not funded so how can you try and sue?...and if you DO try to sue...what will u get?...OUR TSHIRTS???"...they backed off really quickly. LOL
    What im trying to say is all these really stupid lawsuits is nothing more than over the love of money and politics and just to make things a pain in the @$$!


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    Bridge Canyon VFD
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    Small world. STM4170 and WAFD21, my pop's is one of the Deputy Chiefs in Salem, Deputy Chief John Munroe. They have a pretty decent sized department and he's been told by the mayor that there will be absolutely no hiring for the next 2 years. If they loose anyone to retirement, injury, what have you, sorry, no replacements. The situation doesn't sound as bad as what you guys are experiencing, but I think a great portion of the Mass. departments are looking at some hard times.

    As for the lawsuit, I hope they find no fault in that case. People looking to score a quick buck at the expense of the professionals who are trying to keep everyone alive is just sad. Things happen, sometimes it's nobody's fault and people die. That's life. We do our best to try and keep things like that from happening, but people are going to die despite our best efforts sometimes. That's no one's fault but the goddamn fire's. Of course, you coudln't get any money if you tried to bring the fire to court now could you? Disgusting...
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    With the exception of Providence, every single city/town in this state is understaffed. From the news stories about this case, it doesn't seem to be about that but more the actions of the department. The suit claims that the first engine drove past the house, without stopping, to find a hydrant and when the second engine arrived it had no water. I don't know what the SOP's are for Narr. but for pretty much the rest of the state, the first engine pulls just past the house and the second engine lays from the hydrant to the first engine. The chief of Narr. is a retired chief from Providence, so I would assume that they do it that way. The first due Engine should have been Engine 3, which I believe is cross manned. Meaning there is an engine and a rescue in the house and if the rescue was out then the engine was out of service. I don't know if this was the case at the time of the fire. The second due engine is from HQ and it is a pretty straight shot down Ocean Ave. to RI Ave. All of the apparatus is in decent shape, at least to look at. As far as lack of training, one of their captains runs the only burn facility in the state, so I assume Narr. has access to it. It is a fantastic burn house and tower in South Kingstown. I think this another tragedy and the family feels it must be someones fault. I can't see the things that they list as negligence to be the case. I wasn't there when the fire happened so I don't know what the department did and didn't do. I do think that the end result could have consequences that affect every department in the state.

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    When will people learn that suing them will only hinder response even more the next time they have a call? =/
    Floral Park Fire Explorers
    Post 129
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    www.explorers129.com

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    Obviously, I wasn't there. I do not know what happened. I wish we could find out more information, however.

    For instance ... was there a thought to beginning a search immediately, before a water supply was established? Did the first engine in reverse lay out from the front of the structure? Did the 2nd engine pull a handline?

    If this department did the best possible job that they could with the limited amount of manpower they had, then great ... show the lawsuit happy lawyers the door. However, if the fire department screwed up (and I'm not saying they did, I have no idea whether they did or not), let this be a wake-up-call to all of us (especially those of us in the volunteer service where there are zero training requirements and manpower sucks), that we are going to be held accountable for our actions.

    Stay Safe

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    Originally posted by Explorer129
    When will people learn that suing them will only hinder response even more the next time they have a call?
    Is suing them the answer? Probably not ... it could serve as a wake-up-call, though. It could open the eyes of the citizens and the legislators, and force change (okay, I'm taking off my rose-colored glasses now).

    Stay Safe

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    Thumbs down No Sympathy Here............

    While I have no use whatsoever for people who sue government, particularly public safety agencies, I have no sympathy for this town management. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE FOR NOT HAVING ADEQUATE STAFFING. MONEY IS NOT AN EXCUSE. Let me know when the Chief's job in this town is available, and I'll get adequate staffing shortly after taking office. Before anyone whines that "This area is different" it's not. Every FD or VFD in North America was organized to provide protection for it's area. THE ONLY MEANINGFUL VARIABLE IS HUMAN ATTITUDE. If they are understaffed, it's because (A) they want to be, or, (B) they just don't care. IF THEY WANTED FULL STAFFING, THEY'D HAVE IT. Have a nice day. Stay Safe....
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    Hwoods,your 100% correct on that!

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    Default Ok, I'll bite...

    Well, now you've got me curious H.....how would you handle the budget cuts and still maintain adequate (and what do you consider "adequate") staffing? No sarcasm here, I'm really curious about your ideas on this. -46T

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    Cool Like We've Been Doing It Here.........

    For some reason, most likely ingrained behavior, (don't confuse it with honorable tradition, it's not) once a department starts out, it holds that course forever. Here in Maryland, I'm a Chief officer (Volunteer) in one of the world's largest and busiest COMBINATION Departments. We are strong proponents of a core group of Career Fire/Rescue people, working in concert with Dedicated and Trained Volunteers, in our case approx. 675 Career and 1750 Volunteers, backed by an additional 100 paid and 1200 volunteer support and auxilary members. Volunteers can, and do, make a difference when they are utilized properly. If those die-hards who absolutely refuse to recognize that Volunteers are capable firefighters, ones who can insure that staffing levels are adequate, while avoiding a budget collapse, would get the hell out of the way of progress, we'd all be better off. Funding? think out of the box, again. organize a nonprofit foundation that can solicit tax deductible contributions from the community at large. Funnel that money into better equipment. THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX AT ALL TIMES. It's a route to survival for many of you and your organizations. Training? If my dumb old a** can earn a National Pro Board Fire Officer IV Certificate, anyone can. But it takes work, you have to get off your butt and do something. That's the downfall of many departments today, lack of motivation, upheld by the worthless excuse "We've always done it that way" often in tandem with "That won't work here, we're different". Everyone needs to recognize those two phrases for what they really are, BULLS**T! Stay Safe....

    In response to a question, I consider 4 on an Engine, 5 on a Heavy Rescue or Ladder Company to be Adequate. Additionally, If a FD operates an Ambulance, The ambulance should be staffed independently of other apparatus, in other words, if you have an engine and an ambulance housed together, MINIMUM total staffing would be 6.
    Last edited by hwoods; 10-30-2003 at 01:45 AM.
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    Chief Woods is onto something here:

    From the union local's website-
    There are currently 4 members on duty at fire headquarters. The station houses two Engines, a Ladder truck, two Rescue trucks, a Fire Alarm truck, and a utility vehicle. 2 members are on duty at Station 2 (south end) and 2 members on duty at Station 3 (north end). Each of these stations houses an Engine and a Rescue truck.

    So at most they have 8 firefighters on a first alarm. A couple EMS calls and there's even less than that.

    Why not have some volunteers to supplement that staffing?

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    That area of Rhode Island has a history of volunteers withering away.

    No one group can holds sole responsibility. While certainly unionized firefighters have an interest in increasing union members, the volunteers also have to be responsible for being effectively organized enough to still be a viable & valuable force.

    Not necessarily applicable to Rhode Island, but another thing that happens when fairly small towns go paid they often hire the existing volunteers. Say you have 45 volunteers and go to 24x7 staffing with 4 guys, that's gonna take about 16 guys. Now you got 30 volunteers. Open another station, whack off another 16 guys. Now you got 15 volunteers, they're not getting out as regulary or as many, and let's face it, the Town probably hired the better firefighters. Plus volunteer departments primary recruiting tool is friends & family -- fewer volunteers, less recruitment. Kinda of a death spiral unless the vollies step up to the plate (like they have in hwood's area).

    That said, unless your volunteers are staffing the stations which isn't really worth it unless you have high call volumes (otherwise their bored and see it as a waste of time), a handful of career guys arriving on scene early on are still gonna have their hands full.

    Then again, there's departments out there that fit in the category of "Paid-on-Call departments where everyone just happens to works for the Fire Department" -- in that their staffing is so weak, they use call backs frequently. Maybe 8 or 10 guys on duty, and another 20 or 30 who are required to live within 15 minutes of headquarters or whatever their rule is.

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    Originally posted by Dalmatian90
    That area of Rhode Island has a history of volunteers withering away.

    No one group can holds sole responsibility. While certainly unionized firefighters have an interest in increasing union members, the volunteers also have to be responsible for being effectively organized enough to still be a viable & valuable force.

    The union comment is a big uderstatement. I have seen volunteers in combo departments that went union called scabs, shunned, and generally treated like **** because they were suposedly taking some union brothers job away. I have seen the same thing happen when a volunteer from my area moved into an area with a career department and asked about volunteering. Here was a man with 12 years experience, FF2, Hazmat ops and EMT-I, who wanted to help for free, and he was treated like **** when he went to volunteer. Exactly how is doing that in any way a responsible use of the dollars the taxpayers trust the fire service to spend wisely? The same department was the a couple weeks later telling the media a sob story about lack of manpower! That attitude starts from the top down. Any population can support enough of a volunteer roster to add a whole lot to a department, but it is up to the leadership in that department to recruit, train, use, and retain them. And it is up to the leadership to ensure that volunteers are effectivly used and used in a manner consistant with thier training. if you don't let your volunteers do anything more than direct traffic and wash the trucks, you won't keep them around very long. if you treat them like second class members of the department, you won't have them around much. If you keep them active and involved with all aspects of the department and its activities, and ensure thier needs are met as far as training, you get low cost manpower.

    And no, its not the volunteers who "have to be responsible for being effectively organized enough to still be a viable & valuable force", its the station leadership who has to organise and run both the career and volunteer rosters. The volunteers, unless officers(are there many volunteer officers in combo departments manned 24/7?) are responsible for ensuring they keep up with traiing and make the money spent on thier training and equipment gets an effective return to the department in the number of calls answered.

    If your department is losing is volunteers, you can try to blame it on whatever you want, but in the end it is a leadership problem. Leaders that tolerate a culture that does not recognise volunteers as equals to those that recieve a paycheck, leaders that don't effectivley utilise thier volunteers, leaders that don't recruit activley for volunteers, leaders that are not responsive to the needs of the volunteers.

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    Default Part Paid

    My dept. is currently a part paid dept. along with all of the ones around us. We now currently have 22 people on staff. Some work days and soem work nights, so at any one time if we were to have a call we are short staffed. It does not help that we cover a large area and it takes a while for other depts. to get there when called for mutual aid. Unless someone is at the station or near by it takes a minimum of three pages before one of our trucks calls in route. It is just something that happens in my area. For someone to join the dept. they have to live within our coverage area. Now for me, I live 10 minutes from the station and in a whole other county. By no means am I complaining my dept. or any other. It is just one of those things that happens and there really isn't a whole lot that can be done about it.


    Quote

    For instance ... was there a thought to beginning a search immediately, before a water supply was established?

    I know in my area we can not even thing about beginning a search until we have an adequate water supply. I personally would not put my life in that spot and would not enter a house to perform anything without an adequate water supply.
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    Originally posted by radioguy


    The attitude starts from the top down. Any population can support enough of a volunteer roster to add a whole lot to a department, but it is up to the leadership in that department to recruit, train, use, and retain them. And it is up to the leadership to ensure that volunteers are effectivly used and used in a manner consistant with thier training. if you don't let your volunteers do anything more than direct traffic and wash the trucks, you won't keep them around very long. if you treat them like second class members of the department, you won't have them around much. If you keep them active and involved with all aspects of the department and its activities, and ensure thier needs are met as far as training, you get low cost manpower.

    And no, its not the volunteers who "have to be responsible for being effectively organized enough to still be a viable & valuable force", its the station leadership who has to organise and run both the career and volunteer rosters. The volunteers, unless officers(are there many volunteer officers in combo departments manned 24/7?) are responsible for ensuring they keep up with traiing and make the money spent on thier training and equipment gets an effective return to the department in the number of calls answered.

    If your department is losing is volunteers, you can try to blame it on whatever you want, but in the end it is a leadership problem. Leaders that tolerate a culture that does not recognise volunteers as equals to those that recieve a paycheck, leaders that don't effectivley utilise thier volunteers, leaders that don't recruit activley for volunteers, leaders that are not responsive to the needs of the volunteers.
    EXACTLY MY POINT!

    Also, in Re: Volunteers and 24/7 staffing, here's one example. Our paid Battalion Chiefs work Day work on weekdays when most Volunteer Chief officers are working their regular job. Volunteers cover the Battalion Chief slots in each Battalion nights, weekends, and holidays. We have 8 Battalions, and our career folks work a 24 on, 72 off, shift. To cover all battalions with career chiefs 24/7, we would have to hire 24 more people, at, we estimate, a cost of $ 1,800,000.oo (That's $75,000.oo each) So, the savings to governing bodies that use Volunteers can be substantial. I tend to "Cover the Battalion" as we call it, a couple of days a month. Each day is worth a dozen runs on average. Between Battalion Coverage, my Technical Rescue Team duties, and doing my thing with my own station, I make about a hundred runs a month. Counting the Fully paid paramedic unit, my station ran 9,137 times last year. (Paid commercial announcement we're at www.gdvfd18.com ) Stay Safe....
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    Regarding "cuts". You have to take are realllly hard look at the numbers. Out here in Iowa there has been some really terrible wailing about cuts in state spending each of the last 3 years. EXCEPT, like "cuts" in DC the are almost entirely reductions in planned increases. The total $ spent is higher each year than the previous year. Tax collections have stayed level for the last 3 years (rather than the rapid increases of the late 90s). Our idiot dem governor just can not tell the unions (primarily the teachers union) "there are not going to be any damn pay increases for any state employees for the next two years. The citizens paying your salaries aren't getting raises and they can't afford one for you". end of budget "problem"

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