A Hero to the End: Faulty Brakes Sends Fire Truck Careening Down Road
Firefighters risk their lives in “the line of duty” to help/save others. The job is almost always and emergency situation - they must be ready for it; their vehicles must be ready for it. On January 9, 2009, Boston Fire Department Ladder 26 was not ready. A brake failure caused the truck to careen down the road and crash into a brick wall. Ladder 26 was returning to the fire station after responding to a medical call. When the brakes failed, the truck gained speed as it descended down the road. As the truck gained speed, the front passenger’s instincts told him to grab the horn to alert pedestrians and other drivers. His quick reactions may have saved the lives of many that day, but unfortunately not his own. He died of a massive head trauma.
The family of the deceased firefighter has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against six companies contracted by the city to inspect and maintain the braking system on Ladder 26. The lawsuit alleges that these companies were grossly negligent, provided faulty brake repair and maintenance, and failed to properly inspection the truck brakes. The lawsuit alleges that the over time, the defendants improperly installed and replaced brake linings and chambers, as well as continuously failed to correct mistakes in several inspections.
After an investigation of the braking system, it was found that the cause of the accident was solely due to brake failure, and most likely a result of insufficient and substandard maintenance. An investigation clearly showed reduced braking power on both front wheels, significantly reduced braking power on the right rear wheel, and the left rear wheel was completely worn out. Some of the named defendants claim they never worked on the braking system of Ladder 26. Another states they provided a state inspection a year prior to the accident.
This tragic accident was preventable. A startling number of wrongful death lawsuits are the results of faulty equipment. It can be the result of a manufacture or design defect, but it can also be the result of negligence in repairing, properly maintaining, or inspecting the equipment. In this case, the firefighters had every right to believe that Ladder 26 was safe to drive. And now, the family of the deceased has every right to seek justice.
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