A firefighter responding to an incident in his or her personal owned vehicle must use the same due regard towards the public that he or she would if responding in a municipality owned vehicle. The lack of due regard resulted in a fatal vehicle accident on July 16, 2010, when “Firefighter Timothy Johnson of the Portage Ohio Fire District” collided with a vehicle driven by Olivia Duty, which resulted in the death of her boyfriend, Ian Huffman (Varone, 2012, para. 2). Timothy Johnson was responding to a mutual aid structure fire when the accident occurred (Varone, 2012). The parents of Ian Huffman and Olivia Duty, the driver of the vehicle Firefighter Johnson collided with, “filed a wrongful-death and personal injury lawsuit” with the Ottawa County Common Pleas Court (Feehan, 2012, para. 2). Firefighter Johnson additionally faced the criminal charges of negligent vehicular homicide and attempted negligent vehicular homicide, in which he entered a guilty plea and served 9 months in jail (Feehan, 2012).
In the civil suit against Firefighter Johnson and the Portage Fire District, the prosecution was charged with providing evidence that negligence by both parties had contributed to the death of Ian Huffman and the attempted homicide of Olivia Duty. Prosecutors allege “Mr. Johnson was driving his personal vehicle as fast as 98 mph on State Rt. 19 on his way to the fire station in Oak Harbor just seconds before he crashed into the rear of Ms. Duty's car at Portage River South Road” (Feehan, 2012, para. 6). The posted speed limit on Portage River South Road was 55 mph at the time of the accident (Curt, 2012). The defense alleges that Firefighter Johnson was using his lights and sirens and that Ian Huffman was not wearing a seatbelt at the...
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...ng problem many jurisdictions and professional organizations have set the industry standard of following the speed limit or only 10 mph above when responding to an emergency. Fire departments must take notice and follow industry standards, or they and their members may become the next defendants in a court room due to negligence.
Varone, C. (2012). More tragedy flows from fatal pov crash in Ohio. Retrieved from http://firelawblog.com
Feehan, J. (2012, October 17). Parents, girlfriend accept $1.57M to settle lawsuit. THE BLADE. Retrieved from http://www.toledoblade.com/Courts/2012/10/17/Parents-girlfriend-accept-1-57M-to-settle-lawsuit.html
Speed limits not applicable to emergency or public safety vehicles, 4511.24 Ohio codes § 24 (1975).
Varone, J. C. (2012). Legal considerations for fire & emergency services (2nd ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar.
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