The Worst Seat in the House
The officer’s seat on many spare rigs has a danger
Every member has had the experience of reporting for duty to find a scrappy older spare rig on the apparatus floor. Your assigned rig may be out for repair or routine maintenance, requiring the use of the old rig. These rigs may get the job done, but we want to caution you about a recurring issue our clients have encountered while riding in them. The officer’s seat on many spare rigs lack basic shock protection, and are causing serious injuries to the officers using them.
In a perfect world, New York City’s streets would be flat and smooth. Unfortunately, the City’s streets are far from perfect. When responding to an
emergency, chauffeurs may have no other option but to drive over potholes, bumps, cracks, and raised or sunken street hardware, resulting in an impact to the rig and those riding in it. The newer rigs are outfitted with air-equipped seats for both the chauffeur and officer which help to absorb the jolt, lessening the impact. Officers riding in old spare rigs are not so lucky.
Our firm currently represents a group of officers injured while riding in spare apparatus. Their experiences are all similar. On the way to an emergency, the spare rig hit a pothole, causing the officer’s body to be jolted up and down into the hard officer’s seat. Each officer suffered a
severe back injury, some requiring fusion surgeries and forced early retirement. In each of these cases, the chauffeur, who had an air-equipped seat capable of absorbing the impact, was uninjured. The airequipped chauffeur’s seat absorbed the impact, while the officer’s body slammed into the hard, non-moving seat.
If your company is assigned a spare rig without an air-equipped officer’s seat, we suggest that you make sure that the provided seat cushion is thick and can help absorb an impact. The chauffeur, to the extent possible, should try to avoid major street defects to lessen the possibility of an officer injury. If you are aware of a street defect such as a pothole, raised asphalt, raised street hardware, etc., you should notify the Department of Transportation or Department of Environmental Protection, and request that the defect be immediately repaired. Your call will not only make the streets safer for the FDNY, but for all the citizens.
If you would like to share your experience with a non-air equipped officer seat or have any questions about this issue, please contact our firm. Stay safe out there.