Former firefighter sues city, claims he was hurt due to understaffing

Jerry Elmo Jr. was terminated for an inability to “perform essential functions," but claimed he was injured as a "direct result of ... negligence"

By Kaitlin Bain
Yakima Herald

YAKIMA, Wash. — A former Yakima firefighter says he was injured on the job because the city understaffs its fire squads.

The accusation is part of a damage claim the former firefighter, Jerry Elmo Jr., submitted earlier this summer, asking the city for $450,000 in damages related to the injury.

City spokesman Randy Beehler says the city doesn’t comment on pending claims or litigation.

Elmo, who was terminated in May for an inability to “perform the essential functions” of his job, lays out the circumstances surrounding his injury and the subsequent damage claim as follows:

In July 2015, Elmo and his crew responded to a fire in the 400 block of North Fifth Avenue after they had already helped put out a fire in the 600 block of Pleasant Avenue. The response came without rehabilitation — time to rest, cool down or get food and beverage, according to the claim.

While fighting the second fire, Elmo was thrown off balance and “experienced two pops” and pain in his hip and groin, which resulted in him being taken to Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital, according to the claim.

“My injury was a direct result of the city of Yakima’s negligence and intentional conduct. The city of Yakima intentionally understaffs its fire squads, creating dangerous conditions and fails to provide adequate opportunity for firefighters to rehabilitate,” he stated in the claim. “Despite having continuously worked for a long period, my squad and I were not given rehabilitation at any time that day.”

He was later terminated for his inability to do his job as a result of his injuries. The claim also contends the former firefighter was “prohibited” from performing light duty work because of the fire chief’s “personal vendetta against me.”

Elmo is requesting the city pay $450,000 for sick leave time, holiday time and lost wages, among other compensation.

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