Texas Firefighter’s Family Sues E-One and Fire Department for Aerial Training Death

The mother of a 28 year old firefighter who died last year, has sued the City of Kilgore, Texas, along with E-One, Inc., and Hall-Mark Apparatus.  Regina Galloway, mother of Kilgore firefighter Cory Galloway, filed suit in District Court for Clegg County, Texas.

FF Galloway was training with a new E-One aerial platform on January 25, 2009 at an eight-story dormitory at Kilgore College. During the course of the training exercise the aerial platform got stuck on a concrete parapet wall on the roof of the building. When firefighters attempted to free the aerial platform, the platform violently sprang back from the top of the building and swayed back and forth, causing the platform gates to spring open outward past their stopping points, through which Galloway and firefighter Kyle Perkins fell approximately 80 feet to the ground below leading to their deaths. Neither firefighter was wearing a safety harness.

The lawsuit alleges that the aerial platform truck manufacturer, E-One, Inc., and Hall-Mark Fire Apparatus of Texas who sold the truck to the Fire Department – were negligent because they failed to include safety harness or comply with the safety standards set by the National Fire Protection Association.

The suit also alleges that the aerial device was defectively designed because the placement of lifting eyes beneath the platform could forseeably become snagged on buildings, and the gates on the platform were not designed with adequate restraining strips or safety latches which would have prevented the gates from springing outward past their stopping point.

The lawsuit also alleges that personnel received inadequate familiarization training from  E-One, Inc., and the City of Kilgore Fire Department, before they were allowed to operate the aerial platform in a high risk training scenario. The device was the first aerial platform that the fire department ever operated, and the department had no standard operating procedures for its use.

The family has expressed concerns that the Kilgore Fire Department has not instituted policies and procedures to prevent similar tragedies in the future. The suit stated that: “Regrettably, the Kilgore Fire Department has not instituted improved policies and procedures to prevent similar tragedies in the future. On the contrary, chiefs in the Kilgore Fire Department have directed the fire fighters to stop asking for needed improvements and ‘get over’ the incident that killed Cory Galloway and another fire fighter. It is this uncaring and irresponsible reaction on the part of Kilgore officials that, in part, has caused Cory’s family to institute this court action.”

For a good article on the incident.

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.
  • Bill Giannini

    The Kilgore FD is certainly taking an unusual approach to a very evident problem. Reminds me of how a fire chief in the southwest US took the very opposite approach after his department suffered the loss of a member in a fire. When asked by the media if he thought something went wrong he incredulously replied in part by saying, and I paraphrase, “of course something went wrong…a firefighter died!”. His department subsequently conducted an extensive investigation and promulgated operating procedures to address the shortfalls that contributed to the loss of life.

  • John K. Murphy

    Only a matter of time with this unfortunate incident. I am sure the remainder of the deceased and injured will follow soon. Hindsight is always 20/20

  • Thanks for your insights, Chiefs Giannini and Murphy!
    These are of course only allegations in a lawsuit – so we don’t know for sure if the department has or has not taken steps to rectify the danger. The tendency of some chiefs is to “circle the wagons” when these types of events occur – while others view it as an opportunity to make things better.
    An issue that comes up (at least in my mind) is the value of admitting a mistake, and offering a sincere apology coupled with a visible commitment to not allow such an occurrence to happen again – IRRESPECTIVE OF THE LIABILITY CONCERNS. I understand that is heresy to most lawyers – but there is a growing body of psychological research that shows that admitting mistakes, apologizing, and fixing the problem is more than just good leadership. It actually can help prevent the outrage by loved ones that often fuels many lawsuits.

  • John K. Murphy

    Agree on the apology commentary. Most physicians get sued, not based on outcomes but for their attitudes towards their patients when things to south. The Tylenol Cyanide poisoning debacle many years ago demonstrated what an immediate and positive response can do for the public and a company reputation. The media gave Johnson & Johnson much positive coverage for its handling of the crisis; for example, an article in the Washington Post said, “Johnson & Johnson has effectively demonstrated how a major business ought to handle a disaster.” The article further stated that “this is no Three Mile Island in which that company’s response did more damage than the original incident,” and applauded Johnson & Johnson for being honest with the public.
    Since that time other big manufacturers on product recall are stepping up to the plate with regularity and offering a sincere apology for their companies’ mistakes. It goes a long way in mitigating the problem.
    Most people want an honest encounter with the fire department. I know that all of the information is not in on the Kilgore case but many Fire Chief’s still do not know how to make a mea culpa when it is necessary and take a black eye for that bunker mentality. I believe that many Chiefs or departments do not know what to say or how to say it and make the corrective policy changes when it hits the fan.


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