Halifax Fire Facing 18 Suits & $10 Million in Claims for 2009 Wildland Fire

A Canadian fire department is facing 18 separate lawsuits seeking a total of $10 million in damages arising out of a wildland fire that occurred last spring. Halifax Regional Municipality and the Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency Service were sued in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court on April 28, 2010.

The suits were filed by insurance companies seeking to recoup claims paid to homeowners after a wildland fire on April 29-30, 2009 drove 1,200 people from their homes, destroying eight homes and damaging 10 others homes. The suits allege negligence in fighting the fire.

The plaintiffs claim that the fire department left hotspots unattended during which time the winds picked up spreading the fire. They also allege that effective command was not established, requests for resources were delayed, and air support was not requested soon enough.

Halifax fire spokesman Dave Meldrum is quoted as saying "We're concerned with all the allegations. We think that they're wrong, and they're incorrect, and we will defend them in court… That day was a tragic circumstance. Our firefighters put themselves on the line, they worked long hours, they trained hard hours, to protect life and to protect property."

For more on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • Jason SCFFMedic

    Unbelievable. Maybe I don’t know much about the dept. that is being sued but I’m sure they did not start the fires nor did they leave fires unattended. Wildland firefighting is difficult under the best conditions. You throw wind in there, limited resources, inexperience fighting those type of fires and you get what ya get. Maybe I’m missing something here but this looks ridiculous.

  • Hi Jason
    I know… I know… And worst of all, it’s the insurance companies suing the fire department – hoping to offset some of their losses. I guess we have to trust the system to reach the right result.
    Hope all is well is SC!!!

  • Jason SCFFMedic

    Thanks Curt. Trust the system. Hmmmm. Let’s hope so. LOL

  • Throughout the years, people believed that it is the responsibility for the municipalities / governments to prevent or deal effectively (and the emphasis is on efficiency) of such disasters. The difference is that today people are demanding legal obligation from these organiztaions – in this case the fire department

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