Fire Truck Fire Prompts Suit Against Mechanic

A fire that destroyed a fire department tanker (or tender if you are so inclined) in Union, Maine, has prompted a lawsuit by the town against the auto repair shop that had previously repaired the vehicle’s engine.

The tanker, a 1989 Freightliner, was destroyed on January 16, 2012 when it caught fire while enroute to Stone’s Auto/Truck Service LLC.  In late 2011, Stone’s overhauled the vehicle’s engine and performed other repairs that the shop’s owner, David Stone, said would extend the vehicle’s life by 10 years, according to the lawsuit.

About a month after being returned in service, firefighters noticed the truck was making an abnormal sound. Stone was asked to inspect it, but was unable to determine the problem.

On January 16, 2012, Stone asked the department to bring the truck back in and while enroute it caught fire.

The suit was filed yesterday in Knox County Superior Court. 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.
  • Andrew

    Damn, Chief, you’re good. I live 20 miles from Union and didn’t hear about this till today.

  • Andrew

    If you are so close perhaps you can clear something up for me. I saw a news byline that said the suit was pitting fire chief against fire chief. Is David Stone – the defendant-mechanic – also Fire Chief David Stone of Appleton?

    If so – ( and FYI it is not at all unusual for fire chiefs who also are mechanics to do work on other department’s apparatus- I know several personally)… but it certainly shows how mixing commercial activities with fire department activities can allow a commercial problem to damage the fire department relationship.

    • Andrew

      I’ll look into it, but it won’t be till Monday. We roll up the sidewalks at 5:00 PM Friday, and they stay up till 7:00 AM Monday…

      • Andrew

        Not 100% certain, but it looks like the same person… only one David Stone listed in the area. None of my FD contacts wanted to comment either way.

        • Well, that is a shame. I mean business relationships sometimes do end up in litigation – but when that impacts fire department relationships it makes it all the more difficult.

          Hopefully the insurance companies can work it all out and the FD relationships will not be harmed too badly.

          • Andrew

            From the rumors and gossip I have heard, it sounds like the suit is one of those “for the insurance company” things. All the departments in the area have excellent working relationships: we have to. In our town, a business-hours fire generally means 1 or 2 people and 1 truck. Everything has to be mutual aid to get enough men and women to do the job. Sure, there are some personal conflicts, but — amazingly, from what I can see — they vanish when the tones go off. Kinda like what Charlie Daniels said in “In America”:

            From the sound up in Long Island out to SanFrancisco Bay, and ev’ry thing that’s in between them is our home. And we may have done a little bit of fighting amongst ourselves, but you outside people best leave us alone. Cause we’ll all stick together and you can take that to the bank. That’s the cowboys and the hippies and the rebels and the yanks. You just go and lay your head on a Pittsburgh Steeler fan and I think you’re gonna finally understand.


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