Family of Deceased Firefighter Sues Homeowner for Wrongful Death

The family of a firefighter who was killed at a house fire last year in Woodstock, New York, has filed suit against the owner of the house alleging negligence and wrongful death.

Jack Rose was a volunteer firefighter with the Mount Marion Fire Department. On December 19, 2015, he responded on mutual aid to a chimney fire in Woodstock along with the Centerville Fire Department. Rose had recently been elected captain. He was 19 at the time of his death.

According to the Hudson Valley Post:  Mount Marion firefighters entered the basement to battle the blaze. Rose became separated from his team during the interior firefighting effort. His fellow firefighters located him and brought him outside, where he became unresponsive. Firefighters initiated lifesaving measures. Rose was transported by DIAZ Ambulance to the Health Alliance Hospital in the Kingston Broadway Campus where efforts to revive him continued. He eventually was pronounced dead.

The suit was filed by his parents, Gary and Linda Rose, as the administrators of his estate. The suit names the homeowner, Mary Alice Mark, accusing her of:

“carelessly, negligently and recklessly failed to maintain the wood burning stove situated in the middle of the living room, and failed to service, clean and maintain the chimney flue of the aforesaid wood stove at plaintiffs’ residence which negligence caused the said wood stove to malfunction and set fire to defendant’s home.”

Here is a copy of the complaint: rose-v-mark

Here is a news article discussing the case and raising some additional issues about the fire. The NY Department of Labor’s Labor Public Employee Safety and Health Bureau, cited both Mount Marion Fire Department and the Centerville Fire Department for numerous violations of Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations. Among the items of concern was the fact that Captain Rose used an SCBA off a Centerville truck for which he was not trained and had not been fit tested. Centerville reportedly uses MSA while Mount Marion uses Scott.

Note: It is unclear why the complaint states that Captain Rose was with the Centerville Fire Department, but all other media outlets report he was with Mount Marion.

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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