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  1. #1
    Forum Member backdraft663's Avatar
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    Default Hate talking about this but.......

    Say you have you a structure fire that is a fact an arson and they know who did it, and lets say 2 firefighters get killed (Lets pray it dont happen) Could they charge the arsonist for murder? I could debate both sides of this of murder or not, and not to push volunteer or paid issues but what if it was a volunteer department, if you dont want to you dont have to enter, so would they still concider murder charges on the person? I know it sounds weird, but I was thinking about this and I want to know what would happen.
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  2. #2
    Forum Member PFire23's Avatar
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    I personally don't see the point speculating on something that is so hard to determine the outcome of. There are far too many variables involved in a scenario such as this.
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    MembersZone Subscriber E229Lt's Avatar
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    what if it was a volunteer department, if you dont want to you dont have to enter, so would they still concider murder charges on the person?
    First off, arson resulting in a death is murder. Second, volunteers take an oath like all other firefighters, part of that oath is following orders of your superiors. If you think you have a choice to fight when you want, I suggest a new HOBBY.

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    MembersZone Subscriber mcaldwell's Avatar
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    It may vary slightly from State to State, but as a general rule it is actually quite simple. Anytime you commit an act that can foreseeably result in possible injury or death to someone, you can be charged for that persons death. If you intentionally start a fire in a building that causes a firefighters death, you certainly could be charged for murder (normally 2nd degree or manslaughter, unless you planned to intentionally kill someone, then 1st degree). The volunteer issue has absolutely no bearing in it.

    You don't even have to be the one to commit the crime, an accomplice can be charged as well so long as they were aware of what was being done.

    i.e. The driver of a getaway car for an armed bank robbery that results in the death of a guard or other person, can and often is charged with the murder as well.

    The same could easily apply to arson, but it all comes down to the motivation of the prosecutor and the strength of the evidence. This applies almost universally across North America.
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    Default Re: Hate talking about this but.......

    Originally posted by backdraft663
    Say you have you a structure fire that is a fact an arson and they know who did it, and lets say 2 firefighters get killed (Lets pray it dont happen) Could they charge the arsonist for murder?
    As has been said, it may vary State to State, but if you set the fire, and someone died as a direct result, its murder, regardless of your intent.

    I could debate both sides of this of murder or not
    How can you, I am interested in your reasoning?

    and not to push volunteer or paid issues but what if it was a volunteer department, if you dont want to you dont have to enter,
    When you choose to volunteer its not on a case by case basis. "hmm, I'll go into this building" "hmm, I think I'll stay out of that one"

    You have a responsibilty to the citizens you protect, the people in danger, and most importantly to YOUR BROTHERS that you respond with to go thru that door every time, no hesitation....

    so would they still concider murder charges on the person? I know it sounds weird, but I was thinking about this and I want to know what would happen.
    Usually death in the result of any criminal act is considered murder, so whether or not I chose to enter the building should have no bearing.

    Why in the world were you thinking about this?

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    MembersZone Subscriber Dickey's Avatar
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    The short answer is yes.

    In Wisconsin, if it is found to be arson, that is a Class B Felony resulting up to $10,000 fine and/or 20years prison or both. If there is a death or serious injury to civilians OR "emergency responders" it is a Class A felony resulting in up to 30yrs prison, $10,000 fine or both. Mulitiple injuries or deaths, seperate charges for the same crime. There are "enhancers" for lesser Felonies and misdemeanors if it involves a death or injury to "emergency responders" which adds more jail or fine or both. Really the only difference between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd degree is the presence and level of intent and pre-meditation.

    Any firefighter death, either full-time, part-time, paid on call, volunteer or otherwise, I have not heard anything get dealt down to anything less than manslaughter. That was in a case where a firefighter was struck by a drunk driver. He was charged with second degree murder, which went to first degree manslaughter. He was sentanced to not less than 10, no more than 15 years in prison and a huge fine, restitution to the city it happened in( he hit a truck and a stoplight also after running over the firefighter) community service, probation, etc. They threw the book at him. Well deserved I might add too. So realistically, he will get out in 5-8 with good behavior. Not enough in my book but I'm not in charge.

    Each state is different on their felony laws pertaining to this. Some states are more restrictive, some are not.

    Long explaination, sorry.
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    Default Re: Hate talking about this but.......

    Originally posted by backdraft663
    what if it was a volunteer department, if you dont want to you dont have to enter
    If this is the way your volunteer department operates, I feel really sorry for the people in your district.

    In my volunteer department, we take an oath to protect life and property. Period.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

  8. #8
    Forum Member backdraft663's Avatar
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    Default Re: Re: Hate talking about this but.......


    Why in the world were you thinking about this? [/B]

    I dont know, it was just one of those random things that just popped in my mind. Thanks guys for your answers. About the not entering when you dont, on our Department we were told that if you feel uncomfortable entering a particular place you dont have to, your not getting paid to do it, whats the worst that could happen, but on the other hand on a paid dept. that isnt an issue. I dont want to start any wars but I thought of this and wanted an answer.
    Ryan

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    You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. -Eleanor Roosevelt

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  9. #9
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    The Maury Pang Warehouse fire in Washington State (Seattle?) a few years back was an arson, and firefighters were killed in the line of duty. They did charge and convict the arsonist, but I don't remember if it was murder, homicide, or what, but the gist of it was that they held the arsonist responsible for the firefighters' deaths.
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    If I remember correctly, my wife will say I don't, in the Mary pang case they had to either drop the murder charge, or take the death penalty off the table to get the arsonist back from the Country he fled to.

    The Country(sorry don't remember which) had to put the extradition case before their Supreme Court and that was the final verdict.

    As for the no entry thing, whatever works in your place. I can't imagine ever going out the door not knowing if the guy next to me was going to go in with me. My personal feeling is you can either do this job, or you should be selling roses or something. The front door to a house with people trapped is not the time to find out you are alone.

  11. #11
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    This is an old article I found on the net about the case,

    from the NDCRT Website


    Firefighter families file civil lawsuit against alleged arsonist Martin Pang

    Christina Brown, the widow of James Brown, and Karen Shoemaker, widow of Lt. Gregory Shoemaker, who were killed in the line of duty while fighting an alleged arson fire at the Mary Pang Food Products warehouse have filed suit against Martin Pang for his alleged role in the deaths.

    Christina Brown has also extended her suit to include Mary Pang Food Products, Inc. since it is believed that the faulty structure which is alleged to have been modified without proper permits or inspections, significantly contributed to the deaths of the firefighters.

    The civil suits were filed just prior to the statute of limitations expiration which would have barred the plaintiffs ability to recover damages for the alleged actions of Pang.

    The families of two other fallen firefighters, Randall Terlicker and Walter Kilgore are also expected to file a civil action against Pang.

    On 1/5/95, firefighters from around the Seattle area responded to a multi-alarm blaze which took the lives of four Seattle firefighters, touching off a scathing critisizm of the department's safety program and a multi-national manhunt for the suspected arsonist, Martin Pang. Pang was extridited from Brazil under unusual circumstances and has yet to be tried for the crimimal charges against him, more than two years after the incident.

    Commentary from sources within the Seattle Fire Department who wish to remain anonymous have suggested that safety issues, failure of the two-way radio communications system and a breakdown of the command structure significantly contributed to the firefighter's deaths.

    Making matters further complex, investigators were frustrated by the Brazilian authorities unwillingness to clearly state their position regarding the extradition of Pang. Brazil does not have a criminal charge which takes into account consequential actions from an intentional event. It appears, however, that the US Justice Department managed to bring enough pressure to bear against the Brazilian government, causing them to wipe their hands of the situation and return Pang to the northwest.

    Pang is currently being held in the King County Jail, awaiting trial for four counts of first-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson. He is expected to begin trial in April, where it is expected that he will not testify in his own defense.

  12. #12
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    Like some of my other brothers have posted it is very simple..You start a fire and kill someone even if they are a firefighter doing there job, you are charged with murder. The degree of murder may depend on the state and how far the prosecutor wants to go with the case.

    Just because a firefighter is doing his job and gets killed doing it does not mean that the person gets off for murder. If that person did not start the fire in the first place the fire department would not have to even be there.

    Just my 2 cents

  13. #13
    Forum Member 33motor's Avatar
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    I'd have to check, but I think here in TX that if someone starts a fire and a FF gets killed, it's capital murder. The degree drops for civilians. It's also capital murder if you run from a police officer and they are killed while in chase. We had a female PD officer who chased a man through a park one night back in the 80's (I think) and he crossed a creek. When she tried, she drownd.. I think it was a major reason for the law.
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  14. #14
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    Originally posted by 33motor
    We had a female PD officer who chased a man through a park one night back in the 80's (I think) and he crossed a creek. When she tried, she drownd.. I think it was a major reason for the law.
    Exactly!...if that moron did not run in the first place that officer would still be with us. Just like if they don't start the fire the firefighter does not have to be there to put it out in the first place!

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    I thought it would be considered Felony homicide. In other words, a homicide which was done while committing a felony offense. Kinda like if a bank robber kills someone while robbing a bank, it would be felony homicide. I dunno if that would be any different from a regular homicide case or not.

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    In NJ, a death that occurs during the commission of any other criminal activity, regardless of what the other criminal activity was, is a crime. It is called Felony Murder. It is a First Degree Crime. It is charged in addition to any other manslaughter or murder charges. The criminal act does not have to be the direct cause of death. Examples:

    1. I charged a homeless mutt with felony murder. He set a bus on fire outside a medical facility. The security guard who initially responded to the fire from the facility had an MI and died. The mutt pleaded guilty to Arson and Felony Murder.

    2. Several years ago in Paramus, NJ, a moron called in a prank 911 call of some type of crime in progress. One of the PD cars responding crashed and the officer was killed. They arrested trhe moron and he was charged with, and found guilty of felony murder.

    3. A mutt robbed a gas station. He is fleeing and observes the gas station, who he shot but did not kill, on the telephone. He reenters the station and shoots him eight more times and kills him. He is charged with, and found guilty of, murder, robbery and felony murder.

    There is no conceivable difference whether it involves a volunteer fire department.

    It would be interesting for you to be honest about your inquiry. Lots of things "pop into my head", but none of them involve murder.

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    This issue should have nothing to do with whether or not you are a volunteer. The Paid guys do not have to go into a building if they feel it is unsafe. The volunteer's life is worth just as much as someone that is making a career out of Firefighting.

  18. #18
    Forum Member backdraft663's Avatar
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    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI

    It would be interesting for you to be honest about your inquiry. Lots of things "pop into my head", but none of them involve murder.
    I am honest about it, it just came to my mind and I thought I would post it. I have no Intentions to do that.
    Ryan

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    Lets not forget those lost on 9-11-01

  19. #19
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    Originally posted by KParker
    This issue should have nothing to do with whether or not you are a volunteer. The Paid guys do not have to go into a building if they feel it is unsafe. The volunteer's life is worth just as much as someone that is making a career out of Firefighting.
    You are right. It has nothing to do with being a volunteer, it has to do with doing what you were sworn in to do. There was never a mention of unsafe, in fact the context in which the statement was used was this:

    If a guy is a volunteer, can it still be murder since he has the choice as to whether or not he goes in.

    The time to decide you can't go in is way before you get on the truck. Unsafe building, obvious hazard, different story. But remember one thing, this job is inherently dangerous.....if you want to be safe, volunteer at the zoo.

    The basic foundation that supports what we do is knowing that our brothers are there for us, and will come get us when we are down. This is similar to why fighter pilots fly into harms way, or why soldiers go into battle. The bond of the brotherhood is there, and they know that the guy next to them will watch their back, and keep them safe, just as they will do for him.

    I can't ever imagine having to worry about whether or not a guy will decide to do his job, on the way to a job.

    Am I missing something?

    Dave
    Last edited by hfd66truck; 12-04-2003 at 07:45 PM.

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    hfd66truck, thanks for that article.

    Ohio law says the arsonist can be charged with a felony if a firefighter is injured in the process of extinguishing the fire. My engine company went to a fire call where some kids had built a tree fort near an interstate, and some other kids set it on fire. The only reasonable way for us to access the fire was to park at the side of the interstate and jump the fence. We had a probie with us who, being gung-ho, (and young and limber!) went right up and over the fence. The rest of us might have been a little slower and less dignified, but we got over it too. On the return trip over the fence, the probie went over the top of the fence and leaped to the ground on the interstate side. He landed in a rut from the tractor that mowed the grass there, and twisted/sprained his ankle. Because of that injury, we charged the kids who set the fire with felony arson.
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