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    Default Should Officers be charged in LODD's?

    I noticed on the front page, there is a podcast for some Canadian Fire Officer's being charged in conjunction with an LODD. Do yall think this is fair? Would a charge of this type really hold up in court? Just doesn't seem right to me.
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    Why not? Training officers or those that claim to be can be tried in court for deaths.
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    Ask Alan Baird III.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by KEEPBACK200FEET
    Do yall think this is fair?
    Hard to say, don't know all of the facts regarding this incident. The laws in Canada may be different than here in the USA.
    Quote Originally Posted by KEEPBACK200FEET
    Would a charge of this type really hold up in court?
    If they were negligent in their duties, why not? What makes you think we (fire officers) should not be held accountable for our actions (or lack thereof). If I took a class or became certified in a particular field and failed to take corrective action, should I not be held accountable?? If I was the IC on an incident and the Safety Officer (or anyone else) advised me that building collapse was imminent and I failed to react or respond, should I not have to answer to this?

    The bottom line is, whether you are a Firefighter, EMT, Paramedic, Engineer, Fire Officer, Fire Marshal, Chief Officer or whatever title you hold, if you willfully and/or knowingly neglect your duties and responsibilities, you should be held accountable.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not jumping to conclusions. As first stated, it's hard to say since we don't know all the facts. My thoughts go out to ALL those involved, both deceased and surviving.
    Last edited by LasVegasFTO; 03-21-2006 at 02:09 PM. Reason: Frisked by Spelling and Grammar Police

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    Quote Originally Posted by RyanEMVFD
    Why not? Training officers or those that claim to be can be tried in court for deaths.
    So should every Marine Corp Drill Instructor be legally accountable for every death of a Marine they trained? I disagree with holding Officers legally accountable for LODDs. There are no perfect fire fighters, only ones that are fortunate enough to not have made any mistakes that cost someone their life.

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    Let me clarify my last post. In cases of negligence, yes I do think they should be held accountable. I did not mean to imply that officers should never be held accountable, only that it should not be the norm. My commetns were in general, not related to this specific incident.

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    Absolutly. Part of the job is assuming responsibility for your crew. You do something stupid, you pay the price.
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    Are we talking in criminal court or civil court?

    One better be careful what he wishes for...There are many "Chiefs" and "officers" who would have a hard time defending themselves in a court of law against some "expert witnesses" as in certain Chiefs who make the seminar circuit or whom have written texts for the fire service.

    Just from what I've seen on this web page(and NIOSH reports)...there are many departments that apparently subscribe to the show up and make up the rules, postitions and assignments on the spot...their procuedural manual either is signifigantly deficient or hasn't been updated since 1964.(I'm thinking the departments that specify fog tips off of standpipes for "safety" reasons )

    Regardless if you were 100% right...wrong or whatever...an opposing lawyer will make you look like an azz without proper documentation and substance(research, sound reasoning, expereince...etc.) behind your actions.

    Bring that kind of organization into a court room and you might as well learn how to negotiate a settlement(or reduced sentance) now.

    It's something to think about.

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    Last edited by FFFRED; 03-21-2006 at 03:01 PM.

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    I believe that the article in FH is referring to administrative charges. But, that said...

    The question of whether it is "fair" can only be answered on a case-by-case basis. The question of whether a FD officer can be charged can only be answered on a state-by-state basis.

    I put a case into Grand Jury that involved life-threatening injuries to 3 recruit fire fighters. We asked for an indictment against the "training officer" and his "assistants". I can tell you that the GJ was extremely reluctant to hand up an indictment. After the case, we were told (off the recotd) that, if the FF had died, they would have voted to indict.

    I can think of a few cases where I believe that charges could have been filed. But saying that charges should be filed in EVERY case is simply not practical.

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    Default Canadian Charges

    The two fire officers in Canada, are charged under the Workplace Safety Laws, not criminally. This is similar to the OSHA regs you have in the USA. They could face 1 year in jail if convicted, and a hefty fine, but I am not aware of any Canadian case where someone has gone to jail after being convicted of this type of violation (although I bet someone will dig up a case to prove me wrong).

    Not being aware of the actual circumstances of the case, I do know that the law requires employees to have, as much as possible, a safe workplace, and for employees to be properly instructed and equipped to perform their duties, and that includes all jobs, including firefighting. Although there are inherent risks in fire fighting, departments still have to make every attempt to protect their people.

    No doubt this case will be closely watched by fire fighters across Canada.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FFFRED
    Are we talking in criminal court or civil court?

    One better be careful what he wishes for...There are many "Chiefs" and "officers" who would have a hard time defending themselves in a court of law against some "expert witnesses" as in certain Chiefs who make the seminar circuit or whom have written texts for the fire service.

    Just from what I've seen on this web page(and NIOSH reports)...there are many departments that apparently subscribe to the show up and make up the rules, postitions and assignments on the spot...their procuedural manual either is signifigantly deficient or hasn't been updated since 1964.(I'm thinking the departments that specify fog tips off of standpipes for "safety" reasons )

    Regardless if you were 100% right...wrong or whatever...an opposing lawyer will make you look like an azz without proper documentation and substance(research, sound reasoning, expereince...etc.) behind your actions.

    Bring that kind of organization into a court room and you might as well learn how to negotiate a settlement(or reduced sentance) now.

    It's something to think about.

    FTM-PTB
    This is really a huge can of worms. But I must agree that Chief Officers should stand up and take notice on what is going on around them. They are ultimately responsible for everyone on the fireground. Firefighting is a dangerous business, but it should be done with due diligence to the safety of all. Not knowing the laws, rules, or guidlines is no excuse. If you do not follow them, be prepared to say "WHY" you are not!!

    Well....off my high horse and back into the gutter!!!!! Take care and stay safe!!
    Just someone trying to help! (And by the way....Thanks for YOUR help!)

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    Quote Originally Posted by pkfd7505
    So should every Marine Corp Drill Instructor be legally accountable for every death of a Marine they trained? I disagree with holding Officers legally accountable for LODDs. There are no perfect fire fighters, only ones that are fortunate enough to not have made any mistakes that cost someone their life.
    Two completly different situations. I an a firefight you can't always just pull back and run. In fighting fire you can decide whether or not to push in on a fire where the loss to gain ratio. It's a lot easier to cut your losses and pull out of a fire that to leave a field of battle with people shooting at you.

    The fire officer should be accountable under certain circumstances, but very often could be based on opinion rather that fact when dealing with an LODD and trying to pin it on someone.

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    I agree if there's gross negligence but who's too say what's "right". If firefighters die because the officer told them to take a 1.75" line when it was a 2.5" fire-Is he criminally negligent? How about fog vs. smoothbore? If I get a steam burn can I sue the Chief or press charges because he makes us use fog nozzles? Or the training agency that still teaches 30 degree fog attack? Maybe the officer was "elected" into his/her position? No formal officer training? Who is at fault now? The Chief with a $500 training budget?

    I think we should be accountable, but as FFRED alludes to, there are many hired gun fire officers in the legal system. They may not be true experts but have silver tongues that can spin a jury. This is a dangerous issue.

    Again I'll state that in the Alan Baird case he should not have taken the brunt of the charges. Chiefs were at the incident(training) including his, the system allowed an untrained 20-something Asst.Chief to be elected and then run a live fire training! The crime is that all of that was allowed to set up the tragedy. Baird was not innocent but he never should have be in that position in the first place.

    We'll not have full accountablility until we have absolute standards that must be met for every level regardless of vol. or paid. And without full accountability we'll never gain "professional" status in the eyes of the civilian populace.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ehs7554
    Two completly different situations. I an a firefight you can't always just pull back and run. In fighting fire you can decide whether or not to push in on a fire where the loss to gain ratio. It's a lot easier to cut your losses and pull out of a fire that to leave a field of battle with people shooting at you.

    The fire officer should be accountable under certain circumstances, but very often could be based on opinion rather that fact when dealing with an LODD and trying to pin it on someone.
    I agree, but my comments were more directed at the accountability of training officers, not line officers. No matter how well someone is trained, there is still the chance that they can be killed. If they are killed this does not make the training officer negligent necessarily.

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    RFDACM, Baird was in charge and was running the drill. He also lit the couch on fire that he put at the bottom of the stairs. The inept "Chief" was drinking coffee back at the firehouse.

    As for the rest, the Chief is not and should not always be held accountable. The officer in charge of the incident/training should be held accountable. If I, as a Captain, tell my crew to do something stupid and dangerous, that is my fault and I should be held accountable for that, not my Chief.

    Good discussion here guys.
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    Bones: OK his Chief was not at teh incident, but at least one other was. Why was Baird allowed to run a live fire session? Who made him A/C? This was also a system that allowed a improperly trained member to be a supervisor and lead instrcutor. Yes, clearly he was way wrong. But my god! no one else recognized there was a dangerous scenario playing out? Where was the Safety Officer?

    If you tell your crew to do suomething stupid because your not qualified to be leading other firefighters then your Chief is also responsible! No I'm not implying this is the case, either just building on your example.

    I agree this is a great discussion.
    Last edited by RFDACM; 03-23-2006 at 05:32 PM.

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    I agree with Bones, but I'm not so sure that I agree with alot of the other opinions. However, doesnt a certain amount of responsibility fall on the firefighter himself to say, circumstances permitting, "Hey guys, I dont feel comfortable with this situation."?
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    I keep coming back to this thread and have started and deleted several attempts to answer. Coming from a Safety manager's point of view, I say any person who is or has charge over another is accountable for that employee's health and safety. However as with anything there are always extenuating circumstances.

    I am familiar with the story that this thread originates from, but I wasn't there. My only question regarding the particular incident is why where the crews on the roof to begin with? What was the potential gain of doing so? It was a garage.
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    If the facts can clearly prove they were negligent, then absolutley. This should be the same whether they be career or vol...
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    Quote Originally Posted by KEEPBACK200FEET
    I agree with Bones, but I'm not so sure that I agree with alot of the other opinions. However, doesnt a certain amount of responsibility fall on the firefighter himself to say, circumstances permitting, "Hey guys, I dont feel comfortable with this situation."?
    You are assuming that the FF has the knowledge to do that. In many of these cases, the recruits are the victims.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lutan1
    If the facts can clearly prove they were negligent, then absolutley. This should be the same whether they be career or vol...
    You have to keep in mind that there is a huge difference between civil negligence and criminal negligence. Criminal negligence is extremely difficult to prove.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM
    Bones: OK his Chief was not at teh incident, but at least one other was. Why was Baird allowed to run a live fire session? Who made him A/C? This was also a system that allowed a improperly trained member to be a supervisor and lead instrcutor. Yes, clearly he was way wrong. But my god! no one else recognized there was a dangerous scenario playing out? Where was the Safety Officer?
    Baird was put in charge by delegation of authority. The whole Lairdsville incident was a wake up call, unfortunatley, some people just rolled over and hit the snooze button, because training deaths from not following NFPA 1403 can and still happen.

    f you tell your crew to do suomething stupid because your not qualified to be leading other firefighters then your Chief is also responsible! No I'm not implying this is the case, either just building on your example.
    I know I am going to get some flak over what I am about to state here, but...
    as long as some FD's continue to promote fire officers based on a "popularity" or choose to make things like simple seniority as a criteria for giving someone the plungers, up to and including the rank of Chief, this has the unfortunate chance of occuring once again.

    May I remind everyone that this business is a dangerous one, and should be approached with a healthy respect. Everybody goes home... As a command officer, you may **** off a group over overly aggressive jakes when you dump the building, but they can and will get over it...eventually. Been there, done that.

    I agree this is a great discussion.
    Agreed!
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    I know I am going to get some flak over what I am about to state here, but...
    as long as some FD's continue to promote fire officers based on a "popularity" or choose to make things like simple seniority as a criteria for giving someone the plungers, up to and including the rank of Chief, this has the unfortunate chance of occuring once again..
    This is a stupid statement! I have enough trouble following orders. I expect to follow orders from someone I like. If I like that officer and stay on his good side, the better chance I have of manipulating him to my advantage. If officers are promoted on merit, how in the hell would I get my way?

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    These charges are filed under provincial (ie: state) workplace safety legislation, and they will have to be proven in a trial before a judge.

    Just to clear up some possible misconceptions, charges are not automatically laid in each LODD, the incident must be investigated and based on the findings charges could be laid. It has to be shown that the employer and sometimes the supervisor did not take reasonable precautions to protect the safety of the persons in the workplace. As well, they have to ensure that workers are properly trained and equipped to perform their duties. One of the big things they will look for in all cases, is did the organization have proper procedures in place for the work that is being done, did they properly advise and instruct the worker on the procedures, did they give the worker the necessary equipment to do the job? Charges are frequently laid, against all sorts of employers, but it is rare for a fire department to be charged (from what I know) The cases usually result in fines, not jail time.

    In the Yellowknife case, they called in an outside investigator, since Workers Compensation Board does not usually investigate fires, and the report was given to an outside lawyer for review and to advise whether charges should be laid.

    In addition to the charges against the Chief, Deputy Chief, and the City of Yellowknife, they were also issued with the following compliance orders, and I suspect the prosecution's case will relate to them:

    --The N.W.T. Workers' Compensation Board has told the city of Yellowknife to have managers and supervisors in its fire department re-certified to meet national safety standards.

    --Create a full-time Safety Officer position in the Fire Department, trained to national standards.

    --Develop and implement a comprehensive Fire Department health and safety program.

    --Conduct an external audit of Fire Department operational procedures and guidelines, to identify deficiencies and suggest corrective actions.

    --Evaluate current training practices for gaps that may be present.

    --Develop a procedure for all personnel responding to a call for firefighting duty. Any emergency recall system to be implemented shall include some method of transmitting this information to the Fire Hall dispatch centre.

    --Review emergency scene management procedures and operating guidelines, and convey results to local law enforcement officials and other government departments.

    --The department must do regular site and building inspections to familiarize themselves with hazards they may encounter while performing their duties.

    --Conduct debriefs in a timely manner after an incident regarding deficiences and make note of corrective measures implemented.

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