The investigation into a live fire training accident in Pennsylvania last month continues with the state Department of Labor and Industry sending a warning letter to the Jackson Township Fire Department.
A 16 year old junior firefighter was seriously injured in the accident which reportedly occurred when someone used 2 ½ gallons of gasoline to ignite a training fire. The youth was hospitalized for 6 days and sustained first, second and third degree burns.
The incident raises a number of legal issues with both civil and criminal implications, including: violation of occupational safety and health laws, violation of child labor laws, negligence, and reckless endangerment.
Here is a link to a news video about the case that I was unable to embed.
While the use of gasoline for a live fire training activity is incredibly stupid, the case should serve as a warning to any fire department with junior members – even if you do not anticipate such stupidity happening in your department.
There is a very real need to think through the roles that junior members can safely and legally perform. If you have not realized it yet, child labor laws do indeed apply to junior members and these laws (both Federal and state) prohibit exposing youths to dangerous conditions. Every state is different so it is important to know what your law provides. Some states have detailed regulations on junior firefighters and others do not.