HOW SAFE IS YOUR FIREHOUSE?
Imagine that you are washing your hands in the firehouse bathroom, just minding your own business (after doing your business), when a chunk of the ceiling strikes you on the head. Or that as you walk into your locker room, a loose tile slides out under your foot, causing you to crash into a metal locker. Or that water had once again dripped onto the stairs in your firehouse from a leaky pipe, sending you tumbling to the bottom. These are just a few examples of preventable injuries that have interrupted, and in some cases ended our clients’ firefighting careers.
Firehouse injuries due to faulty maintenance are shockingly common. You should know that under the Public Employee Safety and Health Act (PESHA), the City has a legal duty to provide firefighters with a safe workplace and safe equipment, and it is liable to firefighters who are injured when they do not.
Firehouses and FDNY training facilities, and everything in them, must be maintained in a safe manner, free from “recognized hazards”. Things like loose floor tiles, falling ceiling plaster, a cracked or crumbling apron, a ceiling leaking onto the stairs, and inadequate lighting, are common examples. While these may seem mundane compared to the risks firefighters face during operations, problems like these can and do end firefighting careers.
Firefighters bravely confront dangerous situations. They shouldn’t have to deal with them in their own firehouse.
PESHA also mandates that firefighters be provided with safe and proper equipment. This includes everything that you use for work, including your apparatus and all of its components, your hoseline, tools, pss systems, hoods, gloves, etc.
We currently represent fire officers who were injured as a result of defective seats in spare rigs. In the past, we have represented firefighters who were injured due to faulty placement of apparatus handles, faulty pressure gauges, faulty ladders, over-waxed poles and recently washed steps that weren’t dry.
How to document a PESHA violation
The best case scenario is that the City addresses problems before someone is hurt. If you see a defect that could cause an injury, you should report it to your officer, and document it in the company journal. Officers should request repairs for unsafe conditions as soon as reasonably possible after they learn of them.
You should note on your CD-72 if an unsafe condition played some part in causing your accident. If possible, obtain photographs of the condition as quickly as possible after the accident. Conditions can
change, especially after an accident. A photo really is worth a thousand words.
If you are injured due to an unsafe work environment or defective equipment, do not wait to seek legal advice. A Notice of Claim must be filed with the City of New York within 90 days of the accident. While, under certain circumstances, a judge may grant a request to file a Notice of Claim after the 90
day period, that request must be made within one year and 90 days of the accident, and the court may deny the request.
Our firm is available 24/7 to answer any questions you may have about this topic and always happy to provide you with a free consultation.