Department installs lawyers on fire trucks
Suville Fire Department has taken the measures to better protect firefighters from lawsuits
The File Daily
SUVILLE, Conn. — With the rise in lawsuits filed by residents against the fire department, the city council approved adding one lawyer to each responding fire truck effective today. Firefighters are currently in the process of mounting the lawyers to get the rigs back in full service.
"We had planned to do a pilot program with one or two on-board lawyers," Mayor Viktum told the council. "But with a 300 percent jump in lawsuits, we couldn't continue risking the safety of our town by not having a lawyer on every working fire scene.
"We were getting sued for everything from tracking mud into houses where there was a fire to water damage to front lawns. Something had to be done."
Fire Chief Dueitawl said they have encountered some difficulties implementing the program, but was confident all of the rigs would be ready by week's end.
"Most fire trucks were not designed to carry lawyers," Dueitawl said. "We've modified as best we can, but in most cases we've had to take equipment off to make room in the compartments for the lawyers.
"For example, we've removed all of the saws from our truck company vehicles to fit the lawyers in those spots."
Dueitawl said April 1 he's working on revised standard operating procedures that will instruct firefighters how to deploy the lawyers when they arrive on scene.
"We'll get the lawyer out and set 'em up before hitting the hydrant and stretching line," he said. "Once they are deployed, they pretty much wander about on their own; we'll leave one firefighter in charge of watching them — don't want anyone stealing your lawyer."
The People for Ethical Treatment of Attorneys lodged a complaint that it was inhumane to shove lawyers into compartments next to hydrant bags and PPV fans.
But the American Bar Association countered that with so many lawyers in the field, they frankly need the work and didn't mind small dark places.