Firefighter Claims Injuries Due To Lack of Bail Out System


A Kingston, New York firefighter injured in the line of duty last December, has filed a notice of claim stating that his injuries were the result of the department’s failure to provide him with a bail-out system.

Firefighters Thomas Metzger and Brian Renn were injured on December 29, 2012 they bailed out of the second floor window onto a porch roof, and fell to the ground because the roof was icy. FF Metzger claims his injuries were due to the  department's negligence in failing to issue personnel a bail out system.

While the story line is interesting, of even more interest is the reaction of Kingston’s  mayor, Shayne Gallo, upon reading the allegations. Please watch the video below for a little comic relief.

To understand what has transpired legally – all states have adopted laws called tort claims acts. These laws require that before an injured party can sue a governmental entity in tort, they must first file an administrative claim with the governmental agency. Such a claim is NOT a lawsuit – but it is a necessary step before someone can actually file suit.

The purpose of this step is to give the governmental agency the chance to review the allegations and possibly settle the claim before the case goes to court.

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.
  • Rachel

    Calibrate the oxygen masks?

    • Hey Rachel

      I told you it would be comic relief….


      • Rachel

        You are right, I am doubled over laughing.  Let me go put on an O2 mask and run into a burning building, then I wont need a bailout rope, I can escape straght up through a ventalation hole.

  • Chris

    Dude, you’re talking but you’re not saying anything. You must be a politician!

  • ukfbbuff

    1st. i thinkk it would interesting to see an "Model" or re-inactment of this incident.

    If the firefighter slipped on ice and bail out equipment would not have made a dfference then I thnk its amatter of slipping and falling.

    To use bailout equipment you need an achor point. for your rope.

     2nd. You need a score card to keep track of Who's Who at what time and rank, as the mayor is talking.

     3rd. it seems as though the Mayor (new since January '13?calls on the Union  for Failure to pre-purchase all of the safety equipment prior to his taking office on time line. And he may be correct.


     It'll be inetersting tosee how this all plays out.


    • BH

      Quite.  As we as firefighters are so fond of saying, politicians generally know nothing about our industry.  Which means if we don't have bailout kits, and never ask for them, the politicians are never going to know we don't have them or want them.  

  • Steve

    First and foremost, we hope the firefighter involved recovers from his injuries quickly with no lingering effects.

    That said, let's not totallly forget that his own union "didn't want to make waves" by asking  for the proper equipment that all firefighters should have. Maybe they should elect better representatives who truly want to protect their members.

    Second, if the story is correct, I do not know of any firefighter who would step out on a roof using a bailout system.  Figuring the roof to be right there, anyone would probably step out in an emergency and not think to deploy a rope.

    And finally, let's not forget that politicians have no idea what our job entails.  For the mayor to say we have oxygen bottles is a common term for outsiders.  Hopefully, this incident will give him a further incentive to learn what we do, what we need, and our concerns, and he will be pro-active to the fire service of Kingston.

    Don't misunderstand.  I am not in support of politicans or administrations.  Its just that sometime we are our own worst enemies.  Be pro-active, not reactive.  Elect officials who want to represent you, not those who are more worried about making waves.  A fundamental purpose of the union is to make waves for the safety of its members. 


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