NJ Captain Sues Over Injuries

A Camden fire captain who was seriously injured at a fire last year has filed suit against the city claiming the fire chief’s decision to assign him two probationary firefighters was responsible for his injuries.

Captain Robert Eckert was injured January 31, 2018 when he was struck in the head by a hose coupling. The injury resulted from a probationary firefighter turning in a fire hydrant “improperly”. Captain Eckert claims he was hospitalized for 12 days and paralyzed for eight days. He also alleges that he would have been killed had it not been for his fire helmet.

Prior to the incident Camden Fire Officers IAFF Local #2578 sent an email to Fire Chief Michael Harper expressing concerns about assigning two probationary firefighters to a single line officer. In 2017, eight companies had two probationary firefighters while eight others had no probationary firefighters.

The fire department was fined $18,000 by state OSHA officials for six violations related to the fire. Here is 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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