Articles Posted in Fire Safety

Nearly 75% of all firefighter deaths in 2016 were cancer-related.

So says data from Firefighter Cancer Support Network, an organization whose aim is to bring comfort, support, and resources to families of firefighters who have received a cancer diagnosis. Boston Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn called the number of firefighter cancer deaths in his city an “epidemic”  in a 2017 interview with NBC News’ Tom Costello.

In his NBC interview, Boston Fire Commissioner Finn recalls a 2002 explosion at a power plant. 200 city firefighters responded to a fire that left them covered with chemicals pouring from the ceiling. A quarter of those who responded have since been diagnosed with a cardiac issue or cancer.

After less than a day of deliberation, a Chicago jury awarded Tierney Darden $148 million for a shelter collapse outside O’Hare Airport that ripped her spinal cord in half, leaving her permanently paralyzed from the waist down and in constant pain.

In August 2015, Tierney, her mother, and sister had just returned to Chicago after traveling to Minneapolis to pick out a wedding dress for her sister. The three were waiting outside O’Hare under one of several pedestrian shelters found at the airport. A storm caused the shelter to suddenly collapse, trapping Tierney, now 26. After the accident, CBS 2 investigators found corroded parts and missing bolts and screws in not only the shelter that collapsed, but in nearly all others. The discovery and exposure forced O’Hare to remove all pedestrian shelters.

Tierney, a former dancer at Truman College, told CBS 2 of the accident “I hate it. I hate that I have to wake up every day and see it.”

We’ve frequently posted about the dangers of train accidents, but consider when trains are transporting more than just people. As you know, Chicago is a large hub of business. Not only do we have trucks transporting goods in and out of our city for business, but trains carry a significant amount of goods and materials for our state’s businesses and operations as well. Sometimes, the goods they carry are hazardous, and when there is an accident, this is no light matter.

To exemplify how serious train accidents can be, consider a recent report by ABC 7 Chicago. According to the report, an Illinois oil train that was heading for Chicago derailed on Thursday near Galena. Upon derailing, the tanks ruptured and caught fire. The fire was so significant that several of the cars remained on fire from the time of the accident through Friday. The fire, its fumes, and the toxicity of the flames posed harm to residents nearby, who needed to evacuate the area for their safety and livelihood. What is especially troubling about this incident and others like it is that the tanker was recently fitted with protective shields meant to prevent rupturing, yet as you can see from this accident, a serious fire resulted regardless.

The oil the train was transporting was “light crude,” meaning it is more explosive and toxic than other types of oil, and it can penetrate soil. Federal authorities have blocked and dammed off the nearby Galena and Mississippi rivers from the oozing crude to avoid spread of the toxicity and dangers and to avoid contamination of water. As crude oil production and transportation increases, water contamination is a major concern because oil trains often pass within a quarter-mile of protected wetlands, drinking water reservoirs, and major waterways like Lake Michigan.
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The winter months have those of us in the Midwest with our homes shut up and sealed off from the cold. During this time of year, gone are the days of the cool fall where we could leave our windows open and enjoy the breeze. Instead, now that freezing temperatures and snow approach, the windows and doors must be sealed tight to keep out the cold. Because of little air circulation, accumulation of dust, and dry heat from furnaces, many people choose to use various forms of air purifiers, humidifiers and vaporizers to aid with the air quality and their breathing in their homes during these cold months.

However, according to a recent report by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, consumers need to be aware of a recent recall of Daikin Streamer air purifiers. According to the report, these air purifiers have been recalled for posing a fire hazard, which of course not only completely defeats the purpose of what the product should do for your air, but also puts consumers directly in danger of serious personal injuries. The report describes how the circuit board can overheat and cause the air purifier to catch on fire. These air purifiers have been sold from December 2010 through October 2014 for around $540 at various retailers including Goodman Manufacturing and Amazon. Consumers are urged to immediately unplug their air purifiers and discontinue use. They can also contact the Daikin company for a full refund or free replacement purifier.
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It is not news to anyone that purchasing a car is a major financial decision, one that comes with weighing a lot of options and costs between different models and balancing what we need in a vehicle versus new options available in modern models. Purchasing a car often takes a lot of research into which one will get you the most value for your money, which one has been rated the highest for consumer satisfaction, which one is most durable, and most importantly which one is safest for you and your passengers.

When a company puts a car, or any other product, into the marketplace they are guaranteeing in an implied warranty of merchantability that the car is safe to driver. As described by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University Law School, under the Uniform Commercial Code, Article 2, Part 3, goods must pass without objection in the trade and must be fit for the ordinary purposes for which they are used. To elaborate, where a company fails to properly inspect a product or fails to warn consumers of known defects, the company can be held legally liable in a products liability lawsuit for consumer injuries. The court reasons that a consumer purchased a product relying on the fact that it should have been safe for ordinary use and used the product unknowing of the dangers it could cause. For this reason, consumers who are injured from such products can receive compensatory damages for their suffering, injuries, and financial losses.

One luxury feature in modern cars that is now cause for concern is the option for heated seats. This option is popular in the greater Chicago area as our winters are extremely cold in the Midwest, especially the current one where the polar vortex has given us bone-chilling below zero temperatures. However, according to one article by Global News, some consumers may be facing a danger from their car seat heaters and be completely unaware of it. The Toyota Motor Corp. is working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to determine the need for a potential recall of several models sold in the United States and Canada. There is allegedly a problem with the combination of the seat fabric and models with seat heaters, because the company is unsure of whether the fabric meets flammability standards. This is a significant issue because if the fabric is in fact easily or even potentially flammable, consumers are driving cars completely naïve to the fact they are literally sitting on a moving fire hazard.

Passengers and pedestrians should feel free from danger when travelling on and around public transportation, such as the Chicago CTA or Metra, even in the face of accidents, as safety precautions and infrastructure should be in place to protect them. The same should go for the cars we drive, and passengers and drivers trust that their cars will keep them from serious personal injuries or death, even upon a collision. However, that was not the case for three victims of a New Year’s Day car accident on Lake Street in Chicago.

According to the Chicago Tribune, two individuals died and one other was critically injured when a car crashed into the steel “L” support column. The accident occurred in the West Garfield Park neighborhood off of Lake Street. The car of the two deceased victims crashed into the steel support column and burst into flames. The victims became trapped in the front seats of the car, unable to escape, and died on the scene of the accident. Early reports did not indicate what factors may have caused the accident.

Motor vehicles contain flammable liquids for fuel, such as gas and oil. Fuels that leak in motor vehicle accidents are combustible and can easily ignite. According to the United States Fire Administration, from 2008-2010, one in seven fires responded to by fire departments across the nation is a highway vehicle fire. 61% of these fires occurred in passenger vehicles, like the one in the above mentioned accident. The leading factor, 44%, of vehicle fires was a mechanical failure.

Close to forty people suffered personal injuries after a Fourth of July fireworks celebration turned dangerous. A large portion of fireworks exploded prematurely sending shrapnel into the crowd of spectators that were in attendance for the show. An investigation into what happened to cause the accident has shown that it appears that one firework went off on its own and that explosion set off other fireworks and sent them into the crowd of people, however at this time this is just speculation and the exact cause is unknown. Other witnesses claim that it appeared that a rack holding the fireworks fell over, causing the fireworks to activate themselves. Not all of the fireworks for the show went off during the accident, and the local bomb squad was sent in to deactivate the remaining fireworks in order to keep them from also going off and causing more injuries to the spectators.

Of the thirty nine people injured in this accident, all but three were treated and released quickly following the incident, with one injured still being treated at a local burn unit and the other two still hospitalized and listed as being in fair condition.

Many safety precautions are taken for large fireworks shows in order to reduce the chances of accidents and serious injuries to people viewing the show. One of the biggest safety requirements is that crowds are to be kept at least seven feet away for every inch in diameter of the largest firework shell. While this safety precaution is a important way to keep people safe, this specific accident occurred at a distance farther than the required space and does not appear to be a result of fireworks being positioned too close to the public. However, even with all the safety precautions taken some accidents still occur due to the dangerous and often unpredictable nature of fireworks. Over this past Fourth of July weekend, multiple other large fireworks shows across the country reported some type of firework accident in addition to the explosion mentioned above.

NBC News reports that a huge abandoned warehouse on the South side of Chicago caught fire last week during our ice storm, causing a battle between Chicago firefighters and the blazing fire. While it seems odd that a fire would start in a building encrusted in ice, during freezing cold temperatures, Chicago fire department officials said that the blaze’s origin remains unknown but that it was extremely difficult to battle and it could still rekindle, due to the sheer scale of the blaze and remainngi buried debris on fire in the building that the fire hoses are unable to reach.

The firefighters deployed a high-powered “deluge unit” in an attempt to put out the massive flames. The fire caused a five-alarm response that drew out over 200 Chicago firefighters to the scene. That is a third of the department’s entire firefighting force. Fortunately, there were no fatalities and only one firefighter sustained a minor injury during the fight.

Our Chicago injury lawyers know that despite the freezing temperatures, fire can remain a surprising threat for Chicagoans this winter. Anyone who has kept up twinkle lights or holiday décor must remember that light strings should never be left on while unattended. They can heat up and cause a fire. Additionally, all Christmas trees should be out of your house by now. If they are not, they remain a very real fire threat, as dried out Christmas trees are extremely flammable. Wreaths and natural garland are also at a high risk for fire. While our Chicago firefighters are talented, they are no match for a dried out Christmas tree which can spread fire rapidly throughout your home.

A fire broke out on January 7th in Rockford, claiming the lives of four people, reports the State Journal Register. The fire occurred in a two-story single family home where six total people lived. The victims included a 13-year-old boy, his 61-year-old grandmother, a 10-month-old infant and a 21-year-old young man.

This fatal fire was likely caused by an electrical problem and no foul play is suspected at this time. A natural Christmas tree still standing fueled the fire. As our personal injury lawyers understand, it is dangerous to keep Christmas trees much longer than New Years, as dry trees can easily ignite and can be fully consumed in about a minute, according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Rockford firefighters stated that the home had fire detectors but they were not operating properly. After this incident, Rockford firefighters distributed smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to neighbors. Autopsies showed that all four died from smoke inhalation. This tragic accident highlights the importance of fire safety and maintaining proper alarms and detectors.

Any Chicago personal injury attorney would attest that the best kind of injury is the one that is avoided altogether. That’s why it’s so important that Chicago litigation intended to bring older high-rise apartments into compliance with tougher fire safety standards, is followed.

According to the Chicago Tribune, in 2004, city officials enacted legislation to toughen safety standards for residential buildings. This particular ordinance came in response to a fire in a Cook County Administration Building that killed six people. The legislation required that building owners had until January 1 of this year to either install fire sprinklers or make a combination of other improvements to meet the tougher standards, reported the Tribune.

Nevertheless, owners and managers of almost 120 buildings across the city submitted drafts for compliance and were rejected after the city found the proposals to be insufficient. Even worse, hundreds of building owners have not yet submitted plans for improvements, citing the inability to pay for the upgrades due to the economic recession. As a result the City Council has extended the deadline until January of 2015.

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