Philly LODD Prompts Lawsuit Against Equipment Manufacturers

The estate of a Philadelphia firefighter who died at a house fire two years ago, has filed suit against 30 defendants who manufactured or supplied the SCBA and protective equipment she wore.

Joyce Craig died on December 9, 2014 while operating at a house fire at 1655 Middleton Street in Philadelphia. Craig, who was 36 at the time of her death, was trapped by a rapidly developing fire. She was the first female firefighter killed in the line of duty, and left two minor children.

The administrators of her estate, Peter J. Johnson, Esq. and Timothy J. Holman, Esq, filed the 35 page six count complaint last Thursday in Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, alleging negligence, strict liability, and wrongful death. The complaint names Scott Health and Safety, including several subsidiaries; Tyco and several subsidiaries; Cairns and Brother, and subsidiaries; Fisher Scientific and subsidiaries; MSA; Goodyear; Neoterik; Global Secure; Total Safety, MES; Pro-Am Safety; Safeware; Smith Fire Service; Lion Group; and Majestic Fire Apparel.

From the complaint:

  • On December 9, 2014, Joyce M. Craig responded on behalf of the Philadelphia Fire Department to a house fire at 1655 Middleton Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • At the above time and place, Firefighter Craig was wearing protective and life preservation equipment designed, manufactured, tested, distributed, inspected, maintained and sold by Scott, Cairns and Brother, MSA, Global Secure, Goodyear, MES, Pro-Am, Total Safety, Fisher Scientific, Smith, Safeware, Lion and Majestic.
  • At the above time and place, Firefighter Craig was using a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (“SCBA”) designed, manufactured, tested, distributed, inspected, maintained and sold by Scott, Cairns and Brother, MSA, Global Secure, Goodyear, MES, ProAm, Total Safety, Fisher Scientific, Smith and Safeware.
  • Firefighter Craig’s· SCBA was equipped with various pressure hoses and regulators which are intended to dispense and regulate pressurized air from the back-mounted air tank to the face mask unit.
  • Goodyear designed, manufactured, tested, distributed and sold the pressure hoses which were part of Firefighter Craig’s SCBA.
  • Scott, Cairns and Brother, MSA, Global Secure, Goodyear, MES, Pro-Am, Total Safety, Fisher Scientific, Smith and Safeware had actual and/or constructive notice before December 9, 2014 that the SCBA pressure hoses lacked adequate heat resistance and were likely to fail in foreseeable firefighting conditions.
  • Firefighter Craig’s SCBA was equipped with a Personal Alert Safety System (“PASS”) device which is intended to provide others with information regarding the donning firefighter’ s location.
  • Scott, Cairns and Brother, MSA, Global Secure, Goodyear, MES, Pro-Am, Total Safety, Fisher Scientific, Smith and Safeware had actual and/or constructive notice before December 9, 2014 that the SCBA PASS device was susceptible to failure at temperatures in foreseeable firefighting conditions.
  • At the above time and place, Firefighter Craig was using fire protective garments and equipment designed, manufactured, tested, distributed, inspected, maintained and sold by Safeware, Lion and Majestic.
  • Safeware, Lion and Majestic had actual and/or constructive notice before December 9, 2014 that the fire protective garments and equipment lacked adequate features, heat resistance and/or would impede SCBA function in foreseeable firefighting conditions.
  • On December 9, 2014, Firefighter Craig became lost and trapped while attempting to extinguish the fire at 1655 Middleton Street.
  • At the above time and place, Firefighter Craig’s SCBA (including component parts) did not provide her with adequate, breathable air as designed and intended.
  • At the above time and place, the inadequate and improperly functioning SCBA (including component parts) caused Firefighter Craig to run out of adequate, breathable air.
  • At the above time and place, Firefighter Craig’s SCBA PASS device did not alert others to her location.
  • At the above time and place, the inadequate and improperly functioning PASS device prevented others on scene from locating Firefighter Craig before she ran out of adequate, breathable air.
  • At the above time and place, Firefighter Craig’s fire protective garments did not adequately protect her from thermal injuries, did not alert others to her location and/or prevented the SCBA pressure hoses, regulators, air mask and PASS device from functioning properly.
  • At the above time and place, the inadequate and improperly functioning fire protective garments failed to notify others of Firefighter Craig’s location, prevented her from communicating her location to others and/or contributed to her running out of adequate, breathable air.
  • At the above time and place, when she was located, Firefighter Craig was wearing her SCBA air mask and her SCBA air tank was empty.
  • On December 9, 2014, Firefighter Craig was pronounced dead due to suffocation.
  • An adequate and properly functioning SCBA (including component parts) would have prevented Firefighter Craig’s death.
  • An adequate and properly functioning SCBA PASS device would have prevented Firefighter Craig’s death.
  • Adequate and properly functioning fire protective garments would have prevented Firefighter Craig’s death.
  • By virtue of improper and inadequate design and manufacture, the SCBA and fire protective garments and equipment were incapable of permitting Firefighter Craig to safely respond to the fire at 1655 Middleton Street.

Here is a copy of the complaint: estate-of-craig-v-scott-health-and-safety

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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