Although the two metalworkers responsible for starting the nine-alarm fire at an apartment building last year that killed two Boston firefighters will not be criminally charged over the incident, they could still be sued for Massachusetts wrongful death. The D & J Ironworks workers were welding a wrought-iron railing, which sent sparks into a rotting wood shed.
While prosecutors said the two workers were careless, they were found to not have acted with “conscious disregard” or the knowing that they were putting anyone at risk of injury or death with their actions. According to the investigation, the two workers’ behavior fell short of what is required to file a criminal case.
The workers went to Back Bay on March 26, 2014 to install railings at the back of the building next to where the fire happened. Because one railing did not fit properly, they began to weld it into the right size, which is when the fire started.
The workers said they shouted to tenants to warn them and tired to stop the blaze on their own but to no avail. The blaze trapped firefighters Michael Kennedy and Edwards Walsh Jr. in the basement after they went down there to see if anyone needed to be rescued.
The welding company did not have the needed permit to for the job, which would have required that the metalworkers be supervised as a safety precaution. Already, the owner of the apartment building is suing D & J Ironworks. Last year, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration fined the company $58,000 for multiple violations of workplace safety standards. OSHA said that D & J Ironworks’ failure to put into place practical safeguards is what caused the fire, which could have been prevented. For instance, the workers could have welded the railing at a safer spot and brought in a trained firewatcher.
Even without criminal charges, the families of the two firemen could decide to sue two workers and D & J Ironworks Boston wrongful death. In Massachusetts, this type of civil suit can be brought if a person’s negligent actions caused a fatality. If the negligent person was on the job at the time of the deadly incident, his/her employer could also be sued for damages.
DA Concludes Investigation into Fatal Back Bay Fire, Suffolk District Attorney
Will Investigators Bring Charges?, Boston Magazine, June 2014
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