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  • 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

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    Claims of negligence include poor response time; outdated engines and equipment; inadequate fire-rescue training; failure to know the locations of all available hydrants, and failure to use proper techniques in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

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    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.
    IACOJ Canine Officer

  • #2
    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!
    I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.


    • #3
      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.
      To the world you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world.

      IACOJ-WOT proud

      GO WHITE SOX!!!!!


      • #4
        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.
        I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.


        • #5
          (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-

          "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)


          • #6
            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?
            I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.


            • #7
              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 @$$!

              Donna C
              Fire Chief
              Bridge Canyon VFD


              • #8
                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...
                IAFF Local 4392

                "From this day to the ending of the world,
                But we in it shall be remembered:
                We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
                For he today that sheds his blood with me
                Shall be my brother..."
                Shakespeare's King Henry V


                • #9
                  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.
                  Northeast Fire Photos


                  • #10
                    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
                    Floral Park, New York


                    • #11
                      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


                      • #12
                        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


                        • #13
                          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....
                          Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
                          In memory of
                          Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
                          Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

                          IACOJ Budget Analyst

                          I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.



                          • #14
                            Hwoods,your 100% correct on that!
                            I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.


                            • #15
                              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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