From Fire Engineering
Legislation Introduced to Promote the Donation of Equipment to Volunteer Fire Departments
Washington, D.C. - On March 3, legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives which would limit the liability of companies and fire departments that donate surplus equipment to volunteer fire departments. The bill, the Good Samaritan Volunteer Firefighter Assistance Act (H.R. 1088), enjoys a bipartisan group of 60 House cosponsors led by Rep. Michael Caste (R-DE).
"Well equipped fire departments have made it a tradition to give used equipment to those departments that are less fortunate or in dire need," said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. "However, in recent years, the fear of litigation if the gear later turns out to be faulty has made these donors think twice about giving."
"Every day across the United States our firefighters respond to calls for help in their states and communities and they deserve to have access to the best firefighting and protective equipment possible," said Rep. Castle. "Unfortunately, the threat of civil liability has stood in the way of companies donating fire equipment to volunteer, rural and other financially-strapped departments, putting our brave men and women at risk. This legislation seeks to remove this barrier and enable surplus, state of the art equipment to be donated to volunteer fire companies to benefit the thousands of volunteer firefighters nationwide and the communities they serve."
Every year, quality fire equipment, including hoses, fire trucks, protective clothing and breathing apparatus, with an estimated worth in the millions of dollars, are destroyed or discarded instead of being donated to small fire departments in order to avoid civil liability lawsuits. The fear of litigation has forced heavy industry and wealthier fire departments to waste surplus equipment, which in many cases has years of use still left in it.
Many volunteer fire departments struggle financially to provide their members with the equipment they need to protect their communities. In fact, local taxpayers spend millions of dollars for operating expenses and for purchasing replacement equipment for their volunteer fire companies. By removing liability barriers that keep volunteer firefighters from receiving completely safe equipment, it would not only save taxpayers millions of dollars, it too would save perfectly good equipment.
H.R. 1088 is modeled after state law that has been passed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, New York, South Carolina and Texas. In fact, since this bill was signed into law in Texas in 1997, donations in excess of $13 million worth of equipment for volunteer fire departments has been distributed.
The legislation passed the House last year, but the Congress adjourned before the bill could move through the Senate.
Let's hope the legislators take the time to pass it this time.
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03-23-2005, 11:31 AM #1
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- Nov 2001
Legislation Introduced to Promote the Donation of Equipment to Volunteer Fire Depts.
Last edited by superchef; 03-23-2005 at 11:34 AM.
03-23-2005, 11:36 AM #2from receiving completely safe equipment
This could open the doors to get rid of old, unsafe stuff, with no fear, just by saying it's Ok."This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
03-23-2005, 03:07 PM #3
This could open the doors to get rid of old, unsafe stuff, with no fear, just by saying it's Ok.
If it's old and unsafe, why didn't you already dumpster it?
Allow them to give it away, essentially as scrap, and allow the new users to determine if it is suitable for their purposes.
It's not just the Fire Service. Used to work at an R&D center, and they used to have to scrap equipment in working condition rather than donate it to a University program for the same fear.
Obviously there's different standards of inspection (and knowledge to do that) that's needed between say an Aerial Ladder and a Bunker Coat. But even if the donating department knew an aerial failed an inspection, put that report in with the truck (maybe a database that connects reports by VIN or something so it can't "get lost") and let whoever takes the truck determine if it's suitable.IACOJ Canine Officer
03-23-2005, 03:43 PM #4But even if the donating department knew an aerial failed an inspection, put that report in with the truck (maybe a database that connects reports by VIN or something so it can't "get lost") and let whoever takes the truck determine if it's suitable.
A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to donate around 20 SCBA to another department. My town (who owns the equipment) would not allow it to happen until each SCBA was flow tested and certified in working condition. No big deal, we do this annually anyway so it was simply a phone call and a couple bucks to get them re-tested. The receiving department had never done flow testing and was willing to accept them without it. Now, if I had no conscience(sp?) and a new law that says I can't be held responsible, what's to stop me from giving them crap? I would assume, most departments that would take advantage of donated equipment, do not have the funding/means to test everything to certify it before use.
I think part of this is what makes HelpingOurOwn so successful, in that they will take the equipment and test it before it's re-distributed, therefore protecting their end users a little."This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
03-23-2005, 03:57 PM #5
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- Nov 2001
(a) Liability Protection- A person who donates fire control or fire rescue equipment to a volunteer fire company shall not be liable for civil damages under any State or Federal law for personal injuries, property damage or loss, or death caused by the equipment after the donation.
(b) Exceptions- Subsection (a) does not apply to a person if-- (1) the person's act or omission causing the injury, damage, loss, or death constitutes gross negligence or intentional misconduct; or
(2) the person is the manufacturer of the fire control or fire rescue equipment.
This is from Section 2 of the bill. If you knowingly donate faulty equipment that results in injury, death, or loss, you would not be protected under this bill. At least that is the way I read it. To me, it seems to be a step in a positive direction to encourage more donations. If nothing else, maybe it will increase donations to Helping Our Own.
03-23-2005, 05:25 PM #6knowingly
To me, it seems to be a step in a positive direction to encourage more donations.
If nothing else, maybe it will increase donations to Helping Our Own."This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
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