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Seriously injured FDNY firefighters sue NYC for $80M over ‘closure’ policy they claim endangered their lives

Four Bravest practically misplaced their lives in a 2023 blaze due to a metropolis policy that closes firehouses for annual physicals — and the rule continues to pose a risk to residents and responders, new lawsuits cost.

Retired FDNY Lt. Bill Doody and firefighters William Guidera,  Kwabena Brentuo and John Sarnes are looking for a complete of $80 million — or $20 million a bit — within the negligence fits they filed towards town involving its alleged harmful decades-old policy and a Feb. 17, 2023 blaze on Staten Island.

The 4 firefighters have been amongst 22 Bravest injured within the hearth at 84 and 88 Shotwell Ave. within the borough’s Annadale part — with Doody so badly burned that his boots melted into his legs, his lawyer mentioned.

Firefighters standing outside a severely burned, two-story wooden house on Staten Island, taken on February 17, 2023 following a fire incident that left three firemen critically injured
Four FDNY firefighters are suing town over a policy that closes firehouses for annual physicals. Paul Martinka

The four-alarm blaze started at the back of a semi-detached duplex and rapidly unfold to the neighboring residence due to heavy winds, resulting in a partial collapse of one of many houses that triggered at the very least two “mayday” calls over firefighters trapped inside, together with a number of the plaintiffs.

But the closest firehouse, Ladder Company 167, was quickly shut on the time as a result of firefighters there have been present process their annual medical exams as per FDNY policy, in keeping with the lawsuits filed in state supreme court docket on Staten Island.

No smoke-eaters have been reassigned from different firehouses to cowl them to keep away from extra time prices, the fits say.

The lawsuits claim that the policy contributed to a delayed response to the blaze from different hearth firms farther away and violates metropolis, state and federal security, labor and visitors legal guidelines.

Making issues worse, a hearth engine from Engine 162 was concerned in a motor-vehicle accident whereas responding to the blaze and by no means even arrived on the web site, the fits mentioned.

Andreas Koutsoudakis, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, mentioned it’s uncommon for firefighters to sue the FDNY and town as a result of they take the job realizing they face private danger to guard the general public and save lives whereas extinguishing blazes.

Firefighters working outside a semi-detached house on Shotwell Avenue, Staten Island, which is on fire, on February 17, 2023.
No smoke-eaters have been reassigned from different firehouses to cowl them to keep away from extra time prices, the fits say. Paul Martinka

But he mentioned that taking a firehouse utterly out of service so firefighters can take their bodily exams with out re-assigning different fire-eaters to supply protection is “ridiculous” and a “very dangerous” policy that unnecessarily put the lives of residents and first respondents in danger. 

The hearth vehicles from a closed firehouse are additionally taken out of service for repairs in the course of the short-term closure — which additionally goes into impact when firefighters take training programs, in keeping with the firefighters union.

 “You should never close a firehouse,” mentioned Koutsoudakis, co-founder of the KI Legal Personal Injury agency. “No amount of money saved justifies closing a firehouse.”

He mentioned the policy contributed to a  “ripple effect” that turned what may have been manageable one-alarm hearth into a significant four-alarm inferno.

“No one can say with a straight face that the policy makes sense,” Koutsoudakis mentioned.

The lawsuits name for a preliminary injunction to droop the closure policy.

Firefighter on a ladder at the scene of a 5th alarm fire in Staten Island, with the house partially collapsed and two firefighters injured
The hearth vehicles from a closed firehouse are additionally taken out of service for repairs in the course of the short-term closure. whiite

Lt. William Doody, who lately retired, suffered from burns so extreme battling the hearth that his boots melted into his legs, his lawyer mentioned.

Michael Guidera, who jumped out  the second ground of the constructing to avoid wasting his life, underwent a number of surgical procedures for hip and again accidents.

Kwabena Brentuo suffered head accidents and pulmonary/respiratory points.

John Sarnes additionally suffered “permanent injuries,” his swimsuit mentioned.

The firehouse closure policy has been a supply of rivalry for a while in labor negotiations, mentioned Andrew Ansbro, president of the Bravest union the New York City Uniformed Firefighters Association.

He famous there are 193 hearth engine firms and 143 ladder firms, and on any given day, 10 to 12 firehouses might be closed so firefighters can get physicals or coaching.

“They’re relying on the firefighters in the other firehouses to pick up the work. A majority of the time it works out,” Ansbro mentioned. “But sometimes you have a fire like the one on Staten Island where … firefighters get hurt.”

The complaints claim that the closure policy induced the driving force of Engine 162 to violate visitors legal guidelines by driving recklessly.

“William Doody faced unreasonably deteriorating conditions without proper support, and found himself trapped by fire. … Doody faced impending death due to the unreasonably increased risk of harm, and was caused to fall down a flight of stairs to avoid being burned to death,” his lawsuit mentioned.

The fits claim the metropolis violated the federal Occupational Safety and Health legal guidelines and laws, guidelines of the  Public Employee Safety and Health Commission, the National Fire Protection Association, the International Association of Fire Fighters; the U.S Fire Administration,  the National Fire Academy and town’s personal  Fire Department Rules and Regulations.

Neither the FDNY nor metropolis Law Department instantly responded to Post requests for remark.

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