Fire Fighting 101
Fire fighters work in a variety of settings, including urban and suburban areas, airports, chemical plants, other industrial sites, and rural areas like grasslands and forests. Some fire fighters work in hazardous materials units that are trained for the control, prevention, and cleanup of materials like oil spills.
When an alarm sounds, fire fighters respond rapidly, regardless of the weather or hour. Fire fighting involves the risk of death or injury from sudden cave-ins of floors, toppling walls, traffic accidents when responding to calls, and exposure to flames and smoke. Fire fighters may come in contact with poisonous, flammable, or explosive gases and chemicals, as well as radioactive or other hazardous materials that can have immediate or long-term effects on their health.
Between alarms, fire fighters clean and maintain equipment, conduct practice drills and fire inspections, participate in physical fitness activities, and read about new firefighting technology.
About 9 out of 10 fire fighting workers are employed by municipal or county fire departments. Some large cities have thousands of career fire fighters, while many small towns have only a few. Most of the remainder worked in fire departments on Federal and State installations, including airports. Private fire fighting companies employ a small number of fire fighters and usually operate on a subscription basis.
Fire fighting requires teamwork. At fires, they connect hose lines to hydrants, operate a pump to send water to high-pressure hoses, and position ladders to enable them to deliver water to the fire. Fire fights also rescue victims, provide emergency medical attention as needed, ventilate smoke-filled areas, and attempt to salvage the contents of buildings. Their duties may change several times while the company is in action.
When forest fires break out, crews of fire fighters are brought in to suppress the blaze with heavy equipment, hand tools, and water hoses. One of the most effective means of battling a blaze is creating fire lines—cutting down trees and digging out grass and all other combustible vegetation in the path of the fire to deprive it of fuel.
Some fire fighters become fire investigators, who determine the origin and causes of fires. They collect evidence, interview witnesses, and prepare reports on fires in cases where the cause may be arson or criminal negligence. They often are called upon to testify in court.
Furniture Store Fire Settlement
Families of eight fallen firefighters sued for wrongful death because of a June 18, 2007 fire at Sofa Super Store in Charleston, S.C. Thirty defendants which included the furniture store and various furniture manufacturers were sued. The settlement was $1.2 million.
In late 2008, 12 other defendants settled for a total of $5.6 million.
A panel of experts produced a report concluding the firefighters had inadequate training, outdated tactics, and aging equipment which led to their deaths.
The report also concluded that the blaze would have been confined to a loading dock where it started had sprinklers been installed in the store. The specific cause is not known but the likely cause is either discarded cigarettes or someone lighting materials at the store loading dock were likely causes.
The ninth victim’s family sued solely.
This was the nation's worst single loss of firefighters since 9/11.
Related Article: Flammable Furniture
Source: http://www.insurancejournal.com and http://www.wciv.com