The widow of a Volusia County Fla firefighter who died when a tree fell on him during a brush-fire training exercise is suing the county Fire Services department for wrongful death.
County firefighter John Curry was with the department nine months and attending his first training with a wildfire team when he was killed.
Volusia County Fire Services knew that using untrained firefighters to cut down trees was dangerous, according to the complaint filed, and failed to protect Curry from his death.
Curry, 30, was training for the department’s Wildland Fire Team at the Volusia County Fire Training Center when a large pine tree fell on him.
“As the tree was falling, John Curry ran down the only clearly designated escape route,” the lawsuit states. “As he reached the end of the escape route, he was struck by the tree and killed.”
The suit claims the county failed to provide proper equipment, training, instruction, preparation and warning for Curry and the 14 other firefighters who participated in the training.
Before Curry’s death beneath the 40-foot tree, he and other new members saw a video during a class on operating chain saws. The class was designed to last four hours, but the firefighters got two hours of instruction, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit points to a warning about the dangers of cutting down trees during training. According to the lawsuit, Curry had never received formal chain saw training before that day.
After Curry’s death, the State Fire Marshal’s Office determined the cause was improperly trained firefighters and an unsafe workplace.
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