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City pays millions for firefighter-caused blaze

While battling a warehouse fire, crews set off a second blaze that caused significant damage

By FireRescue1 Staff

MONTREAL — A Montreal suburb was fined $3.7 million after a judge declared firefighters made a warehouse fire worse by setting a second blaze.

120 firefighters responded to the September 2004 fire, which had broken out in the storage room of a foam plant, and used a chainsaw to cut a hole in the plant's ceiling across the hall from where the fire was spreading, according to the Sun News Network.

The sparks from the chainsaw ignited nearby polymers used in making Styrofoam, which caused another fire.

The resulting second blaze along with the first fire took firefighter 11 hours to extinguish, leaving significant damage to the warehouse.

Insurer's blamed the Laval Fire Department for its mistake and had sued for $9 million.

A judge agreed that the firefighters worsened the fire by using the chainsaw.

The city has not decided if it will appeal the decision.

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Chris McGuire Chris McGuire Tuesday, December 18, 2012 4:13:01 PM I think they SHOULD APPEAL because it should have made the FIREFIGHTERS another axises hole to fight the fire from. It was not meant to cause more fire, it should have gave an extra place for fighting the fire from. They should NOT HAVE to pay for TRYING TO DO THERE JOB THE BEST THEY COULD, & the was just doing what all FIREFIGHTERS are tough to do in all there TRAINING.
Ryan Sessions Ryan Sessions Tuesday, December 18, 2012 5:27:09 PM I wonder if the firefighters didn't arrive, would that make the fire worse? Also, would it be fair for the fire departments to fine businesses who start the original fire?
Chad Haag Chad Haag Tuesday, December 18, 2012 9:28:31 PM I think it's safe to say that the chainsaw would be the tool of choice to cutting a hole, an axe would've done the same damage striking some metal and sparking and igniting a fire as well. Could it also maybe a chemical reaction from the fire and heat already IN the structure? Or we can just operate as total defensive mode until the owners sign the waivers saying that the FD can't be held responsible for total loss or extended damage at attempting to rescue or extinguish the fire upon entering the structure.
Robert Norgrove Robert Norgrove Wednesday, December 19, 2012 1:33:36 AM I don't think a fine is what was needed in this situation, surely the money would be better off being spent on training so this never happens again, at the end of the day they did not intentionally make the situation worse, I just hope that from now on the department now has people keeping an eye on where the sparks are going now so this never happens again
Jack Allen Jack Allen Wednesday, December 19, 2012 12:53:23 PM This is ridiculous! If they hadn't vented the structure, they would never have been able to fight the fire from inside. At that point it would have been a ground n drown. They should be grateful these guys did everything they did. Otherwise they would've had nothing left at all. Not to mention the possible collateral damage to surrounding buildings. As an interior firefighter, I know the importance of venting, I also know it's impossible for firefighters to do walk-thrus in every warehouse, in a big city suburb like Montreal. So they can't be aware of all possibly flammable substances they may encounter while fighting a fire from inside or out. All these guys could have done is there best and it sounds that way to me. So good job brothers and sisters! And Shame On U Insurance Company & Incompetent Judge!
Matt Hutsell Matt Hutsell Wednesday, December 19, 2012 6:15:11 PM F-ing Canada.
Erik Tremblay Erik Tremblay Wednesday, December 19, 2012 6:55:26 PM So apparently there's no protection for first responders in canada eh?
Chris Frye Chris Frye Wednesday, December 19, 2012 6:56:07 PM No...F'ing French Canada!!
Jim Silvernail Jim Silvernail Wednesday, December 19, 2012 7:30:32 PM Sounds like a judge that is one idiot that should be impeached.
Gary M Dreyer Gary M Dreyer Wednesday, December 19, 2012 8:07:36 PM amazing no gross negligence involved hard to believe that the court would make that decision
Jon Whiskey Jon Whiskey Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:11:02 PM What a thanks for coming out, being the ONLY people willing to go in and fight a fire..."Here's a big thanks" *Slap* "This is now YOUR fault".
James A Swart James A Swart Wednesday, December 19, 2012 9:18:30 PM The judge should ask the insurance company if they would rather they would have them let the place burn to the ground anyone who has been in a fire fighting service knows that you have to vent the building and alot of fire departments use chain saws. The judge really needs to rethink his logic.
Darrin Haskell Darrin Haskell Thursday, December 20, 2012 5:11:50 AM Really!!!!
Thomas Callaway Thomas Callaway Thursday, December 20, 2012 5:18:57 AM I guess the fact it was a Styrofoam plant had nothing to do with the severity of the fire.
Darrin Haskell Darrin Haskell Thursday, December 20, 2012 5:26:51 AM I'm positive I could site many litigations against many fire depts around the world, not just Canada! This has nothing to do with where people are from and the fact that people will sue over anything if it means they don't have to take responsibility or use common sense.lawmakers need to take a look at these lawsuits and enact some legislation to protect first responders. This was in no way negligent and is a crock!
John J. Brazil John J. Brazil Thursday, December 20, 2012 11:18:14 AM Is the Judge and the Insurer brothers? How can this be! Will not risk life and firefighters for this Insurer with my team.. Let the insurer fight the fire next time.
Bill Hoeft Bill Hoeft Thursday, December 20, 2012 12:27:20 PM Remember, a judge is nothing more than an attorney paid with taxpayer dollars. They all feed at the same trough.
Timmy Beaulieu Timmy Beaulieu Friday, December 21, 2012 10:22:09 AM Wow is all I have to say .. What is this world comingg to
Maynardville Fire Department Maynardville Fire Department Thursday, December 27, 2012 12:51:21 PM We agree with Jack! This is Ridiculous! By allowing, this to happen it only gives the insurance company whoís interest we protect by the way of the laws, a new avenue for income so they donít have to pay out to their incompetent customer who canít or wonít tell us that they have METHYL ETHYL BAD STUFF stored in a room! Or they will not take the time to fill out the Tier II forms and submit them! This is a bad day for the fire service just wait other insurance companies will be trying this too on fires. Then they will question our methods. We all know in the fire service that no two fires are the same, and what works for one, may not work on the next.

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