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SLO The Sub Fire, a few questions.

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  • SLO The Sub Fire, a few questions.

    Just received a email today from BillyG's "Secret List" about a commercial fire in San Luis Obispo, CA that resulted in the fire department getting sued over the tactics employed at the scene. I am curious about the call and would welcome any info about what happened, but considering the legal situation, probably a private message would be smarter for that. My question for the forum is this: After looking at the website set up by the plaintiff's lawyers and seeing the damage amount, are we seeing the rise of a new income stream for lawyers similar to the pharmaceutical and disability legal actions always advertised all over local TV stations? A lot of time had to have been spent by web developers and writers to create all the content on the webpage. I know that legal actions are becoming more and more commonplace in the EMS sector, and we all know how wrongful death lawsuits are ever present, for good and bad reasons but has anyone noticed an increase in legal actions against FDs over the ICs decisions on a particular scene? We know every call is unique to some degree but are we heading into a world where, just as in the medical profession, lawyers are deciding how we should do our job and we are either expected to risk lives based on the worth of the property or be paralyzed into inaction because a situation isn't exactly covered in some giant, government written, tactics book that the lawyers have written. (Have you ever seen the volumes of manuals used by medical professionals to diagnose conditions just to get insurance clearance to receive payment for tests?)
    Kevin Sink
    Fair Grove Fire Dept.
    Thomasville, NC USA
    kevinsink@northstate.net

  • #2
    Have seen the lawsuits every so often.

    TO me just another category of lawsuits available.

    But if you r department does have SOP's might just want to review them, update them, and if you have them follow them or have very good documented justification for not doing it.

    Somewhat to lodd, and a surviving spouse's attorney looking at how operations went.

    Comment


    • #3
      This lawsuit sounds totally crazy. They are claiming firefighters poured accelerant on the fire to make it look more impressive. Hard to treat it seriously after that.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have to agree with Captnjak: When I saw this I totally thought someone is wasting a ton of money. I cannot imagine a serious case with the types of allegations. It's pretty much a conspiracy theory. An alleged conspiracy where apparently all the potential IC's in the FD would agree to hasten fires in an effort to protect their personnel? Talk about taking the "Hit it hard from the yard" too seriously! Me thinks someone is hitting something beside fire hard, maybe their primary product?

        Comment


        • #5
          I read about this and the slightest hope for any kind of case vanished, in my mind anyways, when they came up with the story that the FD dumped an accelerant on the roof.
          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
            They aren't trying to convince firefighters that their claim is crap; they are trying to convince 12 people who couldn't get out of jury duty that the FD's negligence made things worse. And they created a website that supports their claim to taint the jury pool.

            The lawsuit is crazy, but if you had no firefighter background, and saw the videos, and had some experts that said the FD was wrong, and that an accelarant is the only answer to why things got so bad...... I can see some people who don't know any better falling for it.
            If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

            FF/EMT/DBP

            Comment


            • #7
              drparasite is getting to the reason I posted this. fire5555 mentioned SOPs, but it is impossible to anticipate every possible situation ICs much less a rank and file firefighter can encounter on a scene. We have all seen the morning after quarterbacking done by folks in this business and we also know how municipalities will settle out of court and allow bad precedents to be set rather than have bad press. This makes me think that the ambulance chasers are discovering that they can chase fire trucks as well and we are heading toward a time where fire departments will get sued for every fire or fire protection will get as screwed up as healthcare. Sorry guys, we can't buy that equipment, we had to pay the fire malpractice insurance bill.
              Kevin Sink
              Fair Grove Fire Dept.
              Thomasville, NC USA
              kevinsink@northstate.net

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by drparasite View Post
                They aren't trying to convince firefighters that their claim is crap; they are trying to convince 12 people who couldn't get out of jury duty that the FD's negligence made things worse. And they created a website that supports their claim to taint the jury pool.

                The lawsuit is crazy, but if you had no firefighter background, and saw the videos, and had some experts that said the FD was wrong, and that an accelarant is the only answer to why things got so bad...... I can see some people who don't know any better falling for it.
                The FD will have experts too. And there will presumably be an investigation which would reveal the use of an accelerant. Or the lack of one. Insurance company will investigate too. They have experts too and could be called to testify.

                But I get your point about juries.

                Comment


                • #9
                  If a municipality ran by politicians decides to settle to save face, there is no jury and precedent will be set. Have you ever read the comments to a fire scene video posted online? We are the worst at second guessing our "brothers" after the fact. We, as the fire service, can't agree if what we are seeing on a video is a "smoke explosion", a "backdraft", a "flashover", or just "a lot of fire", could you justify in court how you decided not to do a search on a building due to worsening conditions? Science has done great things to help us do our jobs and stay safe but this is not a "scientific" job. Most command decisions require a personal judgement, some times just a "gut-feeling". In a world that expects the government to make things "fair" and fix everything bad that happens to us. Will we be able to keep out of trouble by saying "We did our best."?
                  Kevin Sink
                  Fair Grove Fire Dept.
                  Thomasville, NC USA
                  kevinsink@northstate.net

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by FGFD43 View Post
                    If a municipality ran by politicians decides to settle to save face, there is no jury and precedent will be set. Have you ever read the comments to a fire scene video posted online? We are the worst at second guessing our "brothers" after the fact. We, as the fire service, can't agree if what we are seeing on a video is a "smoke explosion", a "backdraft", a "flashover", or just "a lot of fire", could you justify in court how you decided not to do a search on a building due to worsening conditions? Science has done great things to help us do our jobs and stay safe but this is not a "scientific" job. Most command decisions require a personal judgement, some times just a "gut-feeling". In a world that expects the government to make things "fair" and fix everything bad that happens to us. Will we be able to keep out of trouble by saying "We did our best."?
                    I think we will be able to stay out of trouble as long as we have people in command positions who have the knowledge and experience to fulfill that role. Anyone who doesn't know the difference between a back draft and a flashover should not be in that position. (A smoke explosion is the same thing as a backdraft.)
                    "Gut feelings" come from that knowledge and experience. I would feel very comfortable justifying my fire ground decisions in court or anywhere else. And any "expert" who was not present at the scene would be hard pressed to make me look wrong. I am a long time chief in a career urban department so I realize the advantage I am at in this. Many departments have their own unique challenges. But if interior structural firefighting is to be done there HAS to be competence at the very least. True expertise may be out of reach.

                    Comment

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