Faulty firefighting equipment can seriously injure or kill firefighters responding to emergency situations. Firefighters who can’t rely on their personal protective equipment cannot effectively rescue and care for accident victims and others who depend on their lifesaving assistance. When respirators, tools, and other equipment fail, it’s often the firefighter who becomes the one who needs assistance.
Equipment That is Responsible for Saving Lives
Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, or SCBA is perhaps the most critical piece of firefighting equipment. The tanks, valves, masks, and hoses of this critical gear provide the firefighter with fresh oxygen and protection against toxic inhalations. When these fail, firefighters can lose consciousness or inhale toxic fumes emitted by a burning fire. This can result in the loss of life of the firefighter as well as anyone they are attempting to extract from a burning structure. Long-term, such exposures can result in the development of neurological disorders and various cancers.
The firefighter’s turnout gear is also critical. Often constructed of Nomex, this kevlar type jacket is designed to provide thermal protection as well a degree of protection against puncture wounds and other injuries. When the material is poorly designed or manufactured, this exposes the firefighter to the risk of disfiguring and potentially life-threatening burns.
Of course, there are a slew of axes, saws, hoses, and other equipment that firefighters depend on when responding to motor vehicle accidents, residential fires, wildfires, etc. When these tools are poorly designed, poorly manufactured, or negligently maintained, they can create a hazard that is often discovered in the critical moments when the equipment is required to save a life. When these devices fail, they can cause deep lacerations, cause limb amputation, spark fires, or cause dangerous entanglements that can mangle limbs and bring a premature end to a firefighting career.
Product Liability for Defective Equipment
Manufacturers of firefighting equipment have a duty of care to verify that the products they produce and sell will perform as required when firefighters put their equipment to work. When a product is defective, firefighters can pursue product liability claims against the manufacturer because of negligent design, negligent material choice, manufacturing defects, or misleading marketing.
In addition to workers’ compensation benefits firefighters can pursue, a firefighter injury lawyer can pursue compensation include retailers and distributors of the defective device, as well as repair technicians responsible for servicing and maintaining the equipment.