FDNY FF injured in apartment blaze sues building owner, alleges bad repairs sparked fire

The firefighter reportedly suffered serious burns after becoming trapped during the fire in September


Frank Donnelly
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

NEW YORK — A city firefighter suffered serious injuries about five months ago when trapped by a fast-moving electrical fire inside a Clifton apartment building.

In a recently-filed lawsuit, Firefighter Brian Gill alleges the blaze broke out when maintenance staff tried to restore power in an apartment.

Gill has sued Kimso Apartments LLC and Delshah Capital LLC, both of whom are identified in court papers as the owner and managing agent of the apartment building at 260 Park Hill Ave.

The fire ignited in a fifth-floor apartment at about 9:40 a.m. last Sept. 11, according to a civil complaint and Advance/SILive.com reports.

The building has seven stories.

The apartment, 5D, "was without some electrical power ... for a period of days before" the fire, alleges the suit.

Complaints had been made to building management to rectify the situation, said court papers.

The fire started when the building's maintenance crew attempted to restore electrical power inside the apartment, said the civil complaint.

Gill, a member of Rescue 5 in Concord, was among the Fire Department personnel dispatched to fight the all-hands blaze, the complaint said.

Tower ladders were extended to the upper floors of the building where flames leapt out of some units, the Advance/SILive.com previously reported.

In all, about 90 firefighters and 17 units battled the conflagration. The fire was deemed under control in less than an hour, at 10:37 a.m., an FDNY spokesman said then.

The spokesman said a firefighter and a civilian were injured.

 

Staten Island *All Hands* Box 0460. 260 Park Hill Ave. Fire in a 7 story 260x100 NFP

Posted by SQUAD 8 on Friday, September 11, 2020

The FDNY did not name the injured firefighter at the time, although the Advance/SILive.com later learned it was Gill.

The civil complaint does not specify Gill's injuries beyond calling them "serious."

However, citing a Twitter post by the Uniformed Firefighters Association ( UFA), the Advance/SILive.com previously reported Gill suffered burn injuries and spent five days in Staten Island University Hospital's Jerome L. Finkelstein, MD, Regional Burn Center in Ocean Breeze.

Jim Long, a Fire Department spokesman, previously told the Advance/SILive.com the firefighter was inside the apartment searching for potential victims and trying to identify the location of the blaze when "the room lit up on him."

The fire's intensity increased "very quickly," he said.

The conflagration prevented the firefighter from exiting through a door, forcing him to breach a wall to escape, Long said.

Other firefighters were in the apartment; they were going in different directions when the fire flared, he said.

"He did sustain burn injuries," said Long, who cited privacy concerns in declining to provide further details.

In a video posted on the UFA Twitter account, Gill can be seen with bandages on both legs as he left the hospital to resounding applause.

His family was there to greet him.

"We wish you speedy recovery and we look forward to having you back!", the tweet read.

After the fire, Deborah Richard, a building resident, said she and relatives escaped without injury after her 4-year-old nephew alerted them.

"My nephew went into his room to get his iPod and he said, 'Oh Mommy, the room is on fire,'" said Richard. "We had to run out."

Richard said the electricity wasn't working properly for a while. After repeated requests, the management office finally sent someone to make repairs on Sept. 11, she said.

According to the FDNY's Twitter feed, fire marshals determined the cause of the blaze was "electrical." Long had identified the cause as faulty wiring.

A smoke alarm was present and activated, the FDNY Twitter post said. No other details were stated.

The complaint alleges Gill's injuries were caused by the defendants' "negligence, carelessness and recklessness" in the ownership, operation and management of the building.

The defendants failed to comply with various statutes, including sections of the city and state fire codes, as well as provisions of the city Administrative and Building Codes and the Multiple Dwelling Law, alleges the complaint.

Those statutes refer, in part, to general safety requirements in buildings, exit-passageway requirements, dangerous structures and owner's responsibilities.

Gill's lawyer did not return a phone message seeking comment on the suit.

Kimso and Delshah did not immediately respond to phone messages regarding the allegations. Delshah also didn't reply to an email.

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(c)2021 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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