Recently in Fire Prevention and Safety Category

December 6, 2012

Fire Prevention and Safety

Fires and burns are one of leading causes of household injuries. Simple things can be done to prevent or decrease these risks of fires and the resulting burns which include:


  • Have a proper escape plan in case of an emergency.

  • Make sure that a smoke detector is installed and it is working properly.

  • Check the smoke detector every year.

  • Make sure that you have a working, fully charged fire extinguisher.

  • Make sure that your water heater is set to 120 degrees or less to avoid scalds, install radiator cover, and isolate exposed steam pipes.

  • Fire places and burning candles should never be left unattended, dispose of cigarettes, and matches carefully; never place anything that may burn near a water heater, space heater, stove top, or near a furnace,

  • If a kitchen fire occurs, don't panic, know how to handle it and put it out. For oven fires, close the door and turn off the oven. For a stovetop fire, use a lid to smother it.

  • Children should be taught never to play with matches, lighters, or gasoline; they should never be allowed to handle fireworks; never leave young children alone; place pots on the rear burner of the stove and turn the handles inward out of the reach of children; make sure that the stovetop is clean as residue grease can catch fire; make sure that the stove is turned off when you are finished; children should be taught what to do if they smell smoke of hear the smoke alarm.

  • Never place electric cords under rugs or bedding. Heat or sparks from these cords may cause a fire.

  • Always check electrical cords for signs of wear and replace cracked or frayed cords to avoid shock and fire. Don't overload outlets or power strips, and cover unused outlets with plastic plugs.

  • When dealing with chemical substances, protective clothing should be used; all chemical substances should be stored in tamper proof containers out of reach of children; chemicals should never be stored in food or drink containers; different products that contain toxic chemicals should not be mixed together as they may give off toxic fumes; avoid using potentially toxic substances in the kitchen or around food.

  • If your clothes are on fire, stop, drop and roll.

  • In case there is a fire in a building, you should move to the floor where the air is cool and clear because hot air carrying harmful gasses will rise up.

  • Know the emergency phone numbers for your area. In most places it is 911. Teach children the emergency number and post it near each phone.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

June 19, 2012

Long Island Fire at Apartment Complex Causes Smoke Inhalation for Many, but No Severe Burns

In mid June, hundreds of frightened residents were evacuated from a multi-story apartment building when smoke filled their apartments from a simple stove fire that grew out of control. The fire spread so quickly that flames leaped up three floors of the large building in the town of Hempstead, N.Y.

Witnesses recalled seeing residents of the Fulton Manor apartment building with their heads out open windows, screaming for help, before firefighters came to their aid in high-rise ladder buckets. The firefighters pulled more than a dozen people out of their windows to safety. Some of the residents were becoming so overcome by smoke that they were yelling that they were going to jump from their windows.

About 30 people were treated at hospitals for smoke inhalation after they were evacuated from the seven-story building. The cause of the fire was a stove malfunction in an apartment on the second floor. The fire spread quickly to the walls of that apartment, and created a lot of smoke containing deadly carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide.

The risk of death from smoke inhalation was higher for the residents on the floors above a fire, because smoke always rises. Because of this, people who are evacuating a fire should crawl or somehow get their faces as close to the floor as possible, because that is where the only breathable air is located in a smoky room. One or two breaths of smoke is enough to make a person unconscious, and unable to escape a fire.

The fire started around 6:20 p.m. and was contained around 8 p.m. Two firefighters were treated for heat exhaustion. More than 300 firefighters from 30 volunteer departments were at the scene. Four Nassau County buses shuttled about 100 evacuees to a temporary shelter.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

May 8, 2012

Broken Door Traps Family Inside Rental Apartment During Kitchen Fire. Does the Building Have Legal Liability?

On May 4, 2012, New York City police rescued five people, including a baby boy and another child, who were trapped in a smoky kitchen fire in Rockaway Beach, NY because they could not open a jammed apartment door.

A police sergeant on another call spotted a 21-year-old man leaning out of a smoke-filled sixth-floor window in a public housing project about 7 p.m. The man was yelling, "Help! There's children inside!"

The police officers and members of the city's Emergency Services Unit team went to the sixth-floor apartment, but found that the door lock was broken inside the door, so the door would not open. Trapped inside were a baby, a boy, their mom, and two visitors, as a kitchen fire raged. The blaze had begun as a grease fire in the kitchen, at the front of the apartment.

One policeman used a hydraulic drill to force the door open at the frame. Police eventually got the door to open, but by that time the apartment was thick with smoke as flames crawled up the walls of the kitchen, just to the left of the front door. Some of the officers began dousing the flames with pots of water, while others dropped to their hands and knees and went in search of the people trapped further inside.

"As we crawled, we did everything by feel--there was no visibility," said one officer. "We inhaled a lot of smoke. But we had to search the rooms. There was quite a bit of panic by the residents because it was very heavy smoke. We had to get out real quickly."

A baby boy, 19 months old, and an 8-year-old boy were treated for smoke inhalation at Jamaica Hospital. Two women, ages 19 and 22, were also treated at the same hospital. The 21-year-old man was also treated for a hand injury and smoke inhalation. Also, 11 cops were taken to Long Island Jewish Hospital for smoke inhalation but later released.

The police investigation into the fire will determine if the building was at fault for negligence because the door lock was broken and caused the door to be inoperable.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

April 26, 2012

Propane Tank Explodes, Causes Severe Burns to One Person

In Coachella, CA this week, a driver suffered severe burns when propane tanks in the back of his pickup truck exploded while he waited with his family in a drive-through at a McDonald's restaurant.

It was about 1:45 p.m. on a Saturday when the man heard a hissing noise coming from one of two tanks. When he stepped into the back of his pickup to check on the leaking tank, he created static electricity that ignited the leaking gas and caused a gas explosion in both tanks.

The blast had so much force that it caused the roof of the truck to buckle and the tailgate to blow off, striking a vehicle behind it. The fire engulfed the truck, scorched part of the drive-through, and damaged the roof of the restaurant

The patrons of the restaurant were evacuated during the incident. The family in the truck was transported to a local area hospital after suffering from second degree burns, which were not life-threatening.

With summer coming up, there is a good lesson to be learned from this story. Propane tanks that are used for outdoor barbecues and grills can be dangerous if they are too old, if they are not filled up in a safe manner, or if they are not handled properly and gently. Severe burns can result from the rupture of even a small propane gas tank.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

April 17, 2012

Mayor of Newark, NJ Saves Neighbor From Severe Burns and Smoke Inhalation in House Fire


On April 12, Newark Mayor Cory Booker saved a neighbor from a blazing house fire -- a dramatic rescue that he admitted was absolutely terrifying.

The dramatic rescue began at around 9:30 p.m. that night, when Booker and two officers from the Mayor's security team spotted a fire at a house on Hawthorne Avenue belonging to Booker's neighbor. They went over to investigate.

On the first floor, they found a couple, who told them that the woman's daughter and a man were trapped upstairs. Booker and Newark Detective Alex Rodriguez then went to the top of the stairs, where the home's kitchen had erupted in flames.

They first saw a man trying to douse the fire, and told him to get out. Then they heard Zina Hodge, 47, yelling for help from somewhere beyond the burning kitchen.

"This woman is going to die!" the mayor recalled saying at that moment.

"It was very scary, and I consider myself very lucky," Booker said. "There was a time I got through the kitchen and was searching for her, and I looked back to see the kitchen in flames. It was really a frightening experience for me. I didn't think we'd get out of there."

Despite the flames, Booker was determined to get Hodge, whom he has known for six years and considers a good friend. "When I come home from a really tough day, she's there to tease me," he said. "She's just a really good human being."

Rodriguez, however, tried to stop his boss because the fire was getting worse. "Something exploded [in the kitchen], and at that point, my security men did what they're trained to do, which is get me out of danger," Booker said. "So Detective Rodriguez and I had a bit of an altercation. He was literally pulling me by the belt. Finally, I whipped around, we had some words, and he relented. In the end, I am his commanding officer."

Booker said he had to crawl on his hands and knees to get to the bed where Hodge was lying, because the rising smoke was so thick that he would have passed out from smoke inhalation if he did not get down on the floor. In a smoky fire, the cleanest air can be found near the floor, so the correct thing to do is to crawl to safety.

Booker put Hodge over his shoulder and carried her back through the kitchen -- where fire was shooting up the wall and flaming embers were showering down around them. At this moment, Booker said he feared for his life.

"Honestly, at that point, I did not feel bravery -- I felt terror," he said. "It looked like I couldn't get back from where I came from. And I couldn't breathe." But he eventually got back to Detective Rodriguez, and they both took Hodges out of the house.

"She didn't have many clothes on, so she sustained more severe burns than I did," Booker said. "I was holding her and my clothes got burned, but my hand was the only part of my body that got burned."

Two days later, as Hodge was treated for a few third degree burns plus other second degree burns, her mom, Jacqualin Williams, showered Booker with praise. "I think he's Super Mayor," she said. "He should stay mayor and then become president." Booker said he didn't feel like a hero, and balked at being called Super Mayor. "I think that's way over the top. There are people who do this every day," he said, referring to police officers and firefighters.

But Hodge's family feels that Booker was a real hero. "That was great," said Hodge's brother, Roderick Lucas, 38. "My uncle tried to get into the burning house, and my nephew too. Neither one of them could get through, but the mayor did."

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

April 12, 2012

Smoke Inhalation During Night-Time Fires is Often Deadly--Smoke Detectors Are Absolutely Necessary

We hear the warnings all the time, but too many of us do not listen to them: Smoke detectors are absolutely necessary inside homes. Night-time fire can kill the occupants of a home while they sleep; the carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and other poisons that enter our bodes from smoke inhalation can kill a person within seconds.

Unfortunately, lack of smoke alarms or faulty smoke detectors caused two terrible tragedies in the past few weeks. First, In Charleston, WV, in mid-March, a fire tore through a two-story home that had no working smoke detectors, killing eight family members--including six children.

Charleston Mayor Danny Jones said he believed it was the city's deadliest fire in at least six decades. Jones said only one smoke detector was found in a cabinet, and it was not working. The Mayor said he was "devastated" by the news when he got a phone call after the fire was reported around 3:30 a.m.

"I walked up there and caught a glimpse of some of the fatalities, and it's something that's hard to grasp. The fact that there are [six] dead children, it's unimaginable." In addition, one child was on life support at a hospital and not expected to survive, the mayor said.

Neighbors indicated there had been a birthday party at the home a few hours before for one of the adults. An adult female from the home went to a neighbor's house to report the fire overnight. The home was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

The fire chief said that firefighters knocked down the flames quickly. But when they got inside the house, they found five victims and "started realizing there were a lot of people in this house, a lot of children." The fire seems to have started in the middle of the home's main level. The cause is under investigation.

And in Jacksonville, AR the same week, the bodies of a mother and her four children were found inside a duplex apartment, and authorities believe they were killed by smoke inhalation from an overnight fire that had actually died out before firefighters arrived.

A maintenance worker found the bodies around 7 a.m., about an hour after firefighters first knocked on the door to follow up on a neighbor's report of smelling smoke. At the time, nobody answered the door and the firefighters could not detect any sign of a fire from outside, so they left without entering, said the fire chief.

Firefighters had three engines deployed to another house fire nearby, and they believed that was the source of the smoke. After firefighters returned to the scene following the discovery of the bodies by the maintenance worker, they determined that a fire burned overnight and smoldered itself out, causing a lot of smoke to build up in the duplex.

The 31-year-old mother died in her sleep, along with her four children: ages 11, 9, 7, and 4. The maintenance worker found the bodies in their bedrooms and saw extensive smoke damage in the kitchen. "The damage around the stove and the cabinets beside the stove," said the fire chief. "Evidently, something was cooking and caught fire."

A police spokeswoman said there was smoke and soot damage throughout the duplex and in the ventilation system, but no fire damage to the outside of the duplex.

"I got the call this morning and I couldn't believe it," said a family friend, who was godfather to the family. "The last thing I heard the son say was that we were going to get together this weekend and go to the park."

Authorities say a smoke alarm is being tested as part of the investigation. They say smoke detectors in the duplexes do not send signals directly to the fire department and that the detectors do not require regular battery replacement because they are hard-wired into the complex. It is not known at this time if the building's fire alarms were working properly. If they were not, then the complex might have legal liability for injuries that caused the deaths of the occupants.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

April 10, 2012

Smoke Inhalation, Not Severe Burns, Is Most Deadly Aspect of House Fires

Since the start of April, there have been more than a dozen deaths around the United States from smoke inhalation during fires in houses and other buildings. This is a clear indication that smoke from fire is even more dangerous to people than the flames themselves. Why? Because it only takes one or two breaths of smoke to cause a person to become unconscious, and become unable to escape a burning building. And just a few more breaths of the hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide in the smoke can kill a person.

Here is a grim example from just last week: In Northeastern Pennsylvania, a four-month-old girl was killed by smoke inhalation in a fast-moving fire in a trailer home. The county coroner said that the girl died of carbon monoxide poisoning from the smoke, although all other occupants got out safely or were rescued by neighbors. The infant was not able to be rescued in time from her bassinet. Three boys and a woman were treated at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton and released, while a man was admitted in stable condition.

The local fire chief stated that the trailer was engulfed in flames when he arrived. He and a state police fire marshal said the cause is unknown, but the fire is not believed to be suspicious.

And in Fitchburg, MA, last week, a police officer was taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation after responding with firefighters to a kitchen fire. The officer, whose name was not given, entered the building believing there was a child inside the house, because a woman there made statements indicating her 3-year-old baby was inside. But the woman was actually referring to her dog, who made it out of the fire. Firefighters were on scene about 45 minutes after the blaze was reported. It appeared to have started with unattended food and spread into the kitchen cabinets.

In case of fire, it is important that adults find children immediately and get them to safety. The best thing to do is for everyone to then drop the floor and then crawl towards a door or window. Remember that smoke rises, so the only breathable air during a fire is right down at the floor.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

March 16, 2012

How Dangerous Are House Fires? Even Well-Protected Firefighters Frequently Suffer Smoke Inhalation and Severe Burn Injury


In late February, two Prince George's County, MD firefighters were critically injured when a wind-fueled fireball blew through a burning house. They will survive, but the two members of the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department will face long, painful recoveries.

Ethan Sorrell, 21, sustained respiratory burns "through his esophagus and down to his lungs," and Kevin O'Toole, 22, suffered second and third degree burns over 40 percent of his body when a basement fire suddenly turned a small house into something resembling a blast furnace.

O'Toole underwent skin graft surgery shortly after, and will be in the burn unit at the Washington Hospital Center for six weeks. He then faces six months of rehabilitation beyond that.

Doctors won't know the full extent of the damage to Sorrell's burned airway until they remove a breathing tube. His father, Vann -- a volunteer firefighter in Buies Creek, NC -- welled up when asked about his son's bravery. "When you go into it, you know the dangers," Sorrell said. But the Sorrells "just have that need to serve," he added.

His son is unable to speak but has been communicating with a pen and paper. He seems to be in good spirits, said the local fire chief. "The first thing Ethan wrote to me on a pad was [that] the medic who transported him was attractive."

Five volunteer firefighters were treated and released for burns and other injuries suffered in this incident, which as been called by fire officials a "freak occurrence."

One of the injured was Michael McClary, who returned to the hospital two days after the fire with bandages wrapped around his hands, and his heart heavy. "He's still upset that he got to go home and his brothers didn't," said his mother, Cheryl.

Michael, she said, wasn't up to discussing publicly what happened at the house, where wind gusts apparently shot a column of flame up the stairs, through the first floor and out the front door.

The fire was extinguished quickly, said a fire commander who was directing a group in the basement at the time of the fireball.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

March 13, 2012

High-Rise Hotel Blaze in Bangkok Offers Lessons on Avoiding Deadly Smoke Inhalation and Severe Burns

Last week, a small fire at a high-rise hotel in the main tourist district of Bangkok, Thailand caused the upper floors to become filled with smoke, killing at least one foreign tourist and injuring 23 others.

When firefighters arrived at the 15-story Grand Park Avenue Bangkok hotel last Thursday evening, they saw people screaming for help from the upper floors. The smoke had risen so quickly and had gotten so thick that "people were panicked and some of them wanted to jump from windows. We had to tell them to wait and we sent cranes in to help," said a local fire chief.

One foreign woman who suffered from smoke inhalation was unconscious when taken from the building and later died at a Bangkok hospital. It can take just two or three breaths of smoky air that contains carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide to cause permanent injury to the brain, heart and lungs, and even death.

The other victims included two Thais and 19 foreign tourists, most of whom suffered from smoke inhalation.

Investigators were still trying to determine the cause of the fire, which started on the building's fourth floor shortly before 10 p.m. and was quickly extinguished, but sent suffocating smoke to the upper floors at a time of night when most people were in their rooms.

Dozens of people were evacuated and rescue teams treated at least 12 people at the scene to clear their lungs of smoke.

The three-star hotel, formerly known as the Grand Mercure Park Avenue, has 221 rooms and is located in a tourist and residential district popular with foreigners.

The lesson to be learned from this incident is that hotel guests should locate the fire exits on the floor they're staying on as soon as they arrive. As the victims who were trapped in this hotel found out, even a small a small fire needs only a few minutes to cause choking smoke that will rise through a building, just like in a chimney. This can cause death and injury to people who are located far away from the actual fire. In a hotel fire situation, every second counts, so knowing where the exits are located before an emergency happens could mean the difference between life and death.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

March 9, 2012

Even One Candle Can Cause Home Fires and Severe Burns

Several weeks back, a few unattended candles sparked a fire that caused about $130,000 in damage and caused more than 40 people to be evacuated from an apartment building in Seattle, Washington.

The fire started at just before 4 a.m., according to the Seattle Fire Department. Firefighters responding to the scene had to use a ladder to rescue a woman who had already become trapped in her second floor unit. Once she was rescued, it took them another 30 minutes to knock down the fire.

The evacuated residents waited inside a city bus as the firefighters fought the blaze. By about 6 a.m., all but two of them were able to return to their homes. Those two residents, a man and a woman, were being helped by American Red Cross.

The fire caused about $100,000 in damage to the building and about $30,000 in damage to its contents. Fire investigators determined that the blaze was started by unattended candles.

A Seattle Fire Department spokesperson said that this fire should serve as a lesson about the danger of using candles indoors, especially at a time when many people might be using candles to save money on their electric and heating bills. In short, it is dangerous to leave candles burning when you leave the room, even for a minute or two. Candles can fall over easily, which means they could ignite carpet, furniture or curtains and quickly cause a much larger fire.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

March 7, 2012

Fire Control Panels Recalled Due to Alarm Failure, Posing a Fire and Burn Hazard


In mid-February, the following product safety recall was voluntarily conducted by Bosch Security Systems of Fairport, NY, in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Consumers should stop using this product immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

The name of the Bosch product is the Fire Alarm Control Panel. The fire alarm panel is a locking red wall box with dimensions of 22.7 inches high by 14.5 inches wide by 4.3 inches deep. The status, date and time can be seen through a glass screen on the panel door. The word BOSCH is printed on the right corner of the panel and the model number FPA-1000-UL is printed on the bottom left below the glass screen. The alarm panels featured software versions 1.10, 1.11 and 1.12, which can be determined by installers. These units were designed to be used in small to medium-sized facilities, in both public and residential buildings. These were sold at authorized distributors and installers nationwide from May 2009 through October 2011. They were manufactured in China.

About 330 units are being recalled because when the "alarm verification" feature of the system is turned on, the control panel could fail to sound an alarm if a fire occurs. In addition, on systems with 50 or more reporting stations, a delay in sounding an alarm and reporting a fire might occur if the loop for the alarm system is broken.

As part of the remedy, all distributors and installers of these fire panels are being sent two technical bulletins. One provides instructions for how to implement a software change that will correct the verification feature. The second contains instructions for how to handle warnings from affected systems with 50 or more stations. Those who have not received the bulletins should contact Bosch.

No injuries have been reported due to the possible faults of these fire alarm systems. But the recall is being done to ensure that nobody who is inside a building that uses such a system suffers severe burns or smoke inhalation as a result of not being notified of a fire by the system.

To obtain instructions on how to download software to update the control panels or otherwise address the problems, contact Bosch Security Systems at (800) 289-0096 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. EST, or visit the "service and customer care" section on the Bosch website.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

February 28, 2012

There's Danger of Fire or Severe Burns From Laptop Computers and Other Electronics

In late February, a man suffered third degree burns from an unusual incident involving an overheated laptop computer. His burns were so severe that he had to be airlifted to a top burn treatment center for further care, including skin graft procedures to replace badly burned skin.

The 31-year-old man suffered burns on 60 percent of his body. The cause of his injuries was a fire that started in the bedroom from an overheated laptop computer which was left on while he took a shower. The victim was injured because he made a careless decision: He placed his laptop computer on the mattress of his bed before going into the shower. Laptop computers get hot when they are on, and their cooling and ventilation areas are near the bottom of the unit. So laptops must always be placed on a hard surface so that they can take in air to cool them off. In this instance, the heat from the computer was trapped, and eventually set the mattress on fire.

When the victim realized that the mattress and the bed were on fire, he tried to put it out with the help of his wife. Unfortunately for him, in his attempt to extinguish the fire, he suffered severe burns on his hands, arms, and legs. The fire was finally extinguished by a team of firemen who rushed to the scene after receiving a distress call from someone outside the home.

The lesson here is that electronics devices--iPads, laptops, and even smartphones--give off lots of heat, so they must not be left on any surface that can burn. There have even been burn accidents where laptop users severely burned their legs by placing the laptop in their lap to use it! Sometimes these devices become overheated from a product defect such as a short circuit, and this product defect could result in an injury lawsuit against the manufacturer.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

February 9, 2012

A Wrong Decision to Extinguish a Fire Results in a Severe Burn Accident

In Knoxville, Tennessee last week, a fire in the middle of the night from a fireplace that was not properly monitored cause severe burns to a 23-year-old man. Apparently, the man tried to put out the spreading flames by stomping on the burning materials and by placing towels over the flames to smother them. As a result, the victim suffered second degree burns and third degree burns to his hands and feet. He was flown to the Vanderbilt Burn Center in Nashville for more advanced treatment. The victim might need a skin graft to fully heal his burn wounds.

A neighbor said that the man, who was alone in the house at the time of the fire, was using the fireplace to stay warm. "When fire crews got to the house, the victim was outside already," said the local fire chief. "He had apparently made an attempt to put the flames out before they got out of control. That's usually when you suffer burns to your hands and feet."

Firefighters attended to the victim, and started a defensive attack to keep the fire from spreading to houses next door. But the fire became so intense that a neighbor's home, including the roof and siding, was damaged by the heat. In addition to the victim's house being destroyed, there is now the possibility that the burn victim has legal liability for damages inflicted upon the adjacent house.

The victim told firefighters that he had started a fire in the fireplace in the late evening, before going to bed, and left the fire burning.

There are a few important lessons to learn from this incident:

First, it is very dangerous to leave a fire unattended! The same goes for candles and food that is cooking. You should NOT leave any room using fire or a flame for more than a few seconds.

Second, if a fire starts in your home, do NOT try to put it out yourself unless it is small AND only if you use a fire extinguisher. Getting close to a fire with your hands and feet is very dangerous, and even your clothes could catch fire, which can kill you before you can perform the "stop, drop and roll" procedure.

Third, remember that three out of every four people who die in a fire suffer smoke inhalation rather than severe burns. It takes only one or two breaths of fire smoke, which is contaminated with poisonous carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, to make a person unconscious, and thus unable to escape the fire.

If a fire starts in your home and no fire extinguisher is available, you should immediately yell "fire!" to all other people in the house so that they know they must evacuate, and you should then get yourself out of the house as quickly as possible. Once outside, you should call 911 or the fire department and give them the address of the house. Do NOT go back into the house under any circumstances!

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

February 7, 2012

NASCAR Shop Accident Shows That Workplace Fires Can Happen Anywhere

In late January, ten people were treated and released from the hospital after suffering smoke inhalation from a fire that broke out inside the Joe Gibbs Racing complex in Huntersville, N.C.

Huntersville police said that a machine, thought to be a laser cutter, caught fire inside the building. The fire was contained to the machine shop inside the building, and the 10 people were treated by paramedics in the adjacent parking lot. These ten people were then cleared to go back inside the complex.

"A piece of equipment in the machine shop caught fire at our Joe Gibbs Racing headquarters in Huntersville, N.C. The fire department was called and the fire was quickly contained and extinguished," read a statement from Joe Gibbs Racing. "A few of our employees received treatment on site for issues related to smoke inhalation. All employees were able to return to work within the hour to continue preparations for the 2012 NASCAR season."

Witnesses observed smoke pouring from the complex, located just west of Interstate 77 on the outskirts of Charlotte, N.C. Joe Gibbs Racing is home for the race teams of several high-profile drivers, including drivers Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano.

It's the second year in a row that a fire has caused damage to this facility. In February 2011, a fire caused significant damage to the room where engines are built and worked on. No one was injured in that incident.

Workplace fires are dangerous because, although most offices and shops have smoke detectors and fire alarms, many people are trying to escape down fire stairs and through fire exits, which can cause crowding and prevent a quick escape. The result could be second degree or third degree burns in addition to smoke inhalation, which can make a victim unconscious in just seconds, and unable to escape.

It is wise for you to know where the fire exits are in a building from the first minute you go inside that building. It will save you precious time in the event of a fire.

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injuries suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.

January 31, 2012

Three People Suffer Smoke Inhalation but Are Saved from Fire; Stored Gasoline to Blame

Near Chicago last month, three people--one of them a baby--were rescued from a basement fire. It is almost a miracle they survived after suffering smoke inhalation and falling unconscious before they could escape on their own.

The suburban Des Plaines Fire Department responded to a call about people trapped in a burning residence about 6:45 p.m. Firefighters were dispatched and arrived at the scene in about four minutes. They saw that most the flames and smoke were coming from the basement, so they moved into that area first and found three victims.

Two victims, a woman and a male baby, were unconscious. Firefighters removed them from the building and were able to resuscitate them before transferring them to an ambulance. The third victim, a woman, suffered minor burns and smoke inhalation.

The three victims were taken to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, and all indications were that they would survive the ordeal. "Our guys arrived quickly and they did an outstanding job of locating the victims, getting them out, and resuscitating them," said the Des Plains fire chief. "It could very well have been a much worse tragedy." If it took one or two more minutes for firefighters to respond, all three victims would have died from smoke inhalation or third degree burns.

After an investigation, it was determined that a gasoline can was accidentally dropped down the basement stairs and caused the fire when a water heater ignited fumes coming from the can. The victims were renting the basement apartment, so it is not yet clear if the owner of the house has legal liability for injuries the victims suffered. If there was negligence in leaving the gas can near the stairs that led down to the water heater, then the victims could sue the landlord to compensate them for their injuries.

The lesson to be learned from this story is that containers which hold gasoline, kerosene, paint thinner, or propane gas DO NOT belong in or near a house or apartment. Why? Because the fumes that come from even an empty container can catch fire from a nearby source of heat or flame--or even from a tiny spark of static electricity!

If you or someone you know suffers an injury such as third degree burns or smoke inhalation, you should call Kramer & Pollack LLP in Mineola, New York so that the personal injury attorneys in that firm can determine whether another party has legal liability for injury suffered, and if the injured party has a strong legal case.