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what is your liability if you don't adopt 1710 or any other standard?

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  • what is your liability if you don't adopt 1710 or any other standard?

    Okay here's the story. I am a career FF in a medium sized city. I have been appointed to the Union's 1710 committee to look at ways of implementing it.

    There is a comment that comes up over and over from members of the FD..."If the city doesn't adopt 1710 they will still be held liable for the standard and can be successfully sued for non-compliance." Is that true? I don't believe it is. Does anyone know of any FD that was successfully sued for not adopting a standard and thereby being in non-compliance with that standard? I don't want anecdotal info here I want names of FD's or cities involved.

    Before anyone jumps on me and says he must be anti 1710...I am not. But what I don't want to do is try to use a tactic for pushing compliance that is false and will make us look bad.

    I believe in order to be held liable the standard must be adopted by either your city or state or be a federal law. If I am way off base here someone straighten me out.

    I plan to post this on several forums so I don't miss any opinions.

    If you aren't comfortable giving info on here please e-mail me.

    Thanks,

    FyredUp
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  • #2
    NFPA Standards are looked at as a professional standard. You can not be successfully sued for not adopting an NFPA standard. OSHA has used NFPA wording in seceral of their laws, if you live in an OSHA state you must adhere to OSHA standards. A sympathic jury may also look at an NFPA as a "standard of the industry" and find by not complying a negative action occured. This would be more for a civil suit not a criminal suit. Civil law doesn't require "beyond a reasonable doubt". Remember OJ was found guilty in the civil case.

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    • #3
      Regarding your City adopting NFPA 1710 as a Standard, the first thing you need to find out is their current NFPA status. Many towns have adopted the NFPA Standards as their own codes, so that automatically makes any additions a City Law.

      If they are not an NFPA town, then I believe it would come down to the specifics of the situation. In today's society, where it seems as if every one want to sue for any thing, it probably would not be a stretch to see a lawyer filing a legal action for ".. failure to follow an accepted industry standard..."

      For research, i'd suggest also looking at legal actions brought for "Failure to Comply issues" in areas other than just the fire service.

      Good Luck..

      Joe

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      • #4
        I would think this is a legal question for a lawyer who works and specializes in civil litigation on a daily basis?
        Bob Compton
        IACOJ-Proud
        IACOJ-HALL OF FAME-2003

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        • #5
          Thanks for your replies.

          Again, no actual cases of lawsuit.

          Doesn't supply much ammo to back implementation does it?

          I hope we can implement it anyway.

          FyredUp
          Crazy, but that's how it goes
          Millions of people living as foes
          Maybe it's not too late
          To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

          Comment


          • #6
            I have posted this on other topics in other forums but here it goes again:

            Drennan v. City of New York
            NY State Suppreme Court

            City found negligent in not providing proper gear. They used NFPA standards to help win the case. This case was one of many pending at the time and was partly the reason that FDNY went to bunkers.

            There are many out there, many are regarding apparatus accidents.

            You just have to look hard.

            Good luck FyredUp.

            Comment


            • #7
              This question has a lot of merit. Unfortunately If you were involved in a lawsuit, civil or criminal, the plantif or prosecusion can use the NFPA standard as ammunition against you since it is a nationally recognized standard. You can however play the cards, what are the chances of a lawsuit arrising from the non adoption of an NFPA standard? Does implimenting that standard cause an unreasonable strain on department funds, personnel or equipment etc. You could set up a program defining how you would impliment the standard in the future when the departments resources would allow it and the intent shown might help reduce your liability.
              Alex Capezza BS,CFEI,CFII FO1, EMT-I

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              • #8
                ......Unfortunately If you were involved in a lawsuit, civil or criminal, the plantif or prosecusion can use the NFPA standard as ammunition against you since it is a nationally recognized standard..........

                With very little effort you can make NFPA standards look very very foolish. With very little effort you can prove 30% of the US FD's use less than 10% of the standards, 70% of the service doesn't use 50% So the consensus is non-NFPA.

                You can also chace who NFPA is. A way to sell crap to the fire service.

                Or point out watering down of the standards over the years.

                Or demonstrate the death labels without solution on a fire truck.

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                • #9
                  Ehhh Idunno You know those standards that we all train to or 80% of us anyway. Guess what there NFPA how many people do you know that are fighting fire that arnt 1001? NFPA isnt that easily dismissed. Dont think It can be swept aside so easily. Not saying here that I agree at all with 1710 just throwing out somthing for consideration in FyredUp's situation.

                  On the same note OSHA regs that quote directly,even verbatim in some cases, NFPA hold the force of law and regardless of how rediculous you can make it look it's still the law.

                  [ 08-16-2001: Message edited by: Capez ]
                  Alex Capezza BS,CFEI,CFII FO1, EMT-I

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                  • #10
                    I am from Texas, probably the most "right to work state" in the union. We are not an OSHA state and for the most part are as conservative and pro-government/business in our court system as any state in the union. Yet, recently a friend of one of our personnel was killed in a forklift accident in the warehouse of a major corporation. When the civil case went to trial, the judge had the OSHA standard, for forklift operations, on the bench with him. He stated that it was the "standard of the industry" and held the major corporation to the standard. The judge found the corporation negligent for not being compliance with the OSHA standard, awarded the requested judgement, and levied punitive damages (3 times the amount of the judgement)against the corporation. Punitive damages are in place to "punish" and to act as a deterant to similar behavior in the future. If these types of case laws and judgements are coming from Texas, jurisdictions around the country better take note. I am afraid that NFPA 1710 will simply be a choice of paying for firefighters or paying for attorneys

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