Vermont Town Sues KME and Navistar for $2.5 Million over Fire Station Fire

A Vermont town is suing two fire truck manufacturers for $2.5 million over a fire originating in one of their fire trucks. The Town of Randolph filed suit last week against Kovatch Mobile Equipment Corp. and Navistar over a September 1, 2015 fire that destroyed the Town’s Central Street station.

The fire started in a rescue pumper manufactured by KME on a Navistar chassis. The fire started in the engine compartment and was electrical in origin. According to the complaint:

  • On or about September 28, 2011 the Town purchased the 2012 KME FT Trk IK9AF4286CN0S8285 (“Fire Truck”) from KME.
  • The Fire Truck was designed, manufactured, tested, distributed, advertised, marketed, and/or sold by KME.
  • The Fire Truck’s engine and component parts were designed, manufactured, tested, distributed, advertised, marketed, and/or sold by Navistar.
  • On September I, 2015 an electrical arc originated in Fire Truck engine compartment.
  • The electrical arc was caused by the negligent design and/or manufacture of the Fire Truck and/or its component parts.
  • As a result of the electrical fire a fire ensued in the Fire Truck engine compartment resulting in damage to the real and personal property of the Town in an amount in excess of S2.5 million, being in excess of the jurisdictional amounts of this Court.

The complaint alleges strict product liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. The case was filed on Orange County Superior Court and immediately removed by consent of all parties to US District Court for the District of Vermont.

Here is a copy of the complaint: Randolph v KME

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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