Apparatus Accident LODD Prompts Criminal OSHA Citation

The death of a volunteer firefighter who was responding to fire in Nipissing, Ontario has prompted criminal charges being filed against the fire department.

Firefighter Paul Nelson, 21, was killed on December 27, 2011 when the engine he was driving went off the road in a weather related accident. He was a college student at Nipissing University, and was alone in the pumper at the time.

The Ontario Ministry of Labour brought the charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act claiming that the Nipissing Township Fire Department failed to provide Nelson with enough training.

Also facing charges in connection with the accident is a contractor responsible for clearing the roads at the time of the accident. News reports indicate there were some 27 accidents in the area associated with snow and ice.

I am hoping to get some additional details on the nature of the charges. Here are the penalties listed for OSHA violations in Ontario:


66.  (1) Every person who contravenes or fails to comply with,

(a) a provision of this Act or the regulations;

(b) an order or requirement of an inspector or a Director; or

(c) an order of the Minister,

is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than twelve months, or to both.


(2) If a corporation is convicted of an offence under subsection (1), the maximum fine that may be imposed upon the corporation is $500,000 and not as provided therein.

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.
  • Steven Colson

    Any other info on this? Can this happen in the USA? Do they know what part of his training was lacking? This is very interesting on many fronts.

    • Steve

      Here in the US it usually requires a higher level of culpability to trigger criminal sanctions. Many departments do get civil fines from their state OSHA.

      In the UK and Canada – the people/legislature thought it would be a good idea to hold the high corporate “muckey-mucks” responsible when their greedy decisions cost workers their lives.

      Sounds good. Sounds logical. Sounds reasonable.

      Unfortunately the burden is falling heavily on the fire service – because while big corporations make greedy decisions every day that put workers at risk – their workers do not die as often as firefighters do.

      In the UK particularly the burden is being passed down to line officers who have been charged with manslaughter when personnel under their command are killed. It is a bad situation and you have wonder why anyone would be a fire chief… or even an officer… under such conditions.

  • Steven Colson

    “is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than twelve months, or to both.”

    So who are they going after. A Chief of Dept., Training Officer?

    • In this case probably the department. Under other circumstances they could go after a responsible officer.

  • Tom

    The training that was lacking for this poor young man is that he was never trained on how to drive a truck. The claim was made that they "couldn't afford the diesel fuel to train the new young volunteers on how to drive". He was sent, alone, in the truck in horrible driving conditions by the capitain and a  second woman, both of which had their license and full training on the pumper. They drove separately in a pick up truck. I think they really screwed that one up and did it backwards and I hope the capitain that sent him off alone is charged individually.


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