Architect Sentenced in LA LODD

A German architect has pled no contest to charges of involuntary manslaughter for his role in a fire that claimed the life of an LA city firefighter in 2011.

Gerhard Becker is expected to serve about six months in jail followed by probation for his role in the death of Glenn Allen. FF Allen was killed in a collapse on February 18, 2011 in a fire at Becker’s house.

According to investigators, Becker misled building officials about the presence of fire places in the 12,000 square foot house he was building in Hollywood Hills. Becker allegedly took some dangerous shortcuts after inspectors left, including installing propane fed fireplaces intended for outdoor use, inside his home.  One of the devices sparked the fatal blaze.

Becker’s plea was entered on Friday. Prosecutors and firefighters had been hoping for a more lengthy sentence. According to IAFF Local 112 LA City Firefighters Union President Frank Lima “We want to send a message, 'Build stuff right and don’t cut corners.’” Los Angeles County Superior Judge Robert Perry received nearly 200 letters asking for him to order the maximum sentence. Instead he sentenced Becker to one year in prison. With time served and other factors, Becker is expected to serve six months.

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.
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