Walmart suit

grumpy grizzly

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Walmart has announced it has filed suit against the Plainfield IN Fire Department, as well as many local surrounding departments, for their actions in that massive Walmart distribution center fire this summer. They claimed that actions by the fire departments caused the fire to spread and increase the damage. The Chief claimed that the overall system was on but the riser for the sprinkler system in the affected area was turned off during suppression efforts, causing the fire to spread. If I remember correctly the local department was conducting pre-fire down the street and was on the scene almost immediately. This suit could have serious implications for those small town local departments. I know the one here in central Illinois is surrounded by small, and mostly volunteer departments.
 

entropychaser

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Walmart has announced it has filed suit against the Plainfield IN Fire Department, as well as many local surrounding departments, for their actions in that massive Walmart distribution center fire this summer. They claimed that actions by the fire departments caused the fire to spread and increase the damage. The Chief claimed that the overall system was on but the riser for the sprinkler system in the affected area was turned off during suppression efforts, causing the fire to spread. If I remember correctly the local department was conducting pre-fire down the street and was on the scene almost immediately. This suit could have serious implications for those small town local departments. I know the one here in central Illinois is surrounded by small, and mostly volunteer departments.
I wonder if Walmart is self-insured. You can be certain they have a retired fire chief/consultant saying this should never have happened. Walmart is looking for a deep pocket...city, county, state, whomever. Regardless, this will be resolved out of court in a year or two.
 

RCL

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I wonder if Walmart is self-insured. You can be certain they have a retired fire chief/consultant saying this should never have happened. Walmart is looking for a deep pocket...city, county, state, whomever. Regardless, this will be resolved out of court in a year or two.
I saw something that said there is a cap for lawsuits like this, and this suit exceeds the cap. I want to say it's like a 5 million dollar cap.

I do have questions, like what is the reasoning behind shutting down the zone. If it was because the roof came down and took the sprinkler risers and branches with it, and the remaining system was degraded because of this, then I can see shutting the affected area down.

I hate lawyers who are instant experts.
 

grumpy grizzly

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I saw something that said there is a cap for lawsuits like this, and this suit exceeds the cap. I want to say it's like a 5 million dollar cap.

I do have questions, like what is the reasoning behind shutting down the zone. If it was because the roof came down and took the sprinkler risers and branches with it, and the remaining system was degraded because of this, then I can see shutting the affected area down.

I hate lawyers who are instant experts.
When this incident happened I remember there was discussion on the initial thread about the shutting down of the system in the fire area.
 

entropychaser

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Don't worry Grump...some poor IC is gonna get a chance , under oath, over about four or five hours, to about a dozen $500/hour lawyers exactly WTF happened!
 

mack

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Walmat has named 34 fire departments and fire organizations, to include a fire buff organization and the Indinianapolis fire marshal in their suit admitting a $5M Indiana state cap for damages. Most are small departments and it would appear Walmart is blaming all involved. The suit seems almost petty for Walmart. There has to be more to the story. The fire chief has just admitted that they shut down the sprnkler system in the fire area during suppression as claimed by Walmart, but still did not provide an explanation.
 

grumpy grizzly

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Walmat has named 34 fire departments and fire organizations, to include a fire buff organization and the Indinianapolis fire marshal in their suit admitting a $5M Indiana state cap for damages. Most are small departments and it would appear Walmart is blaming all involved. The suit seems almost petty for Walmart. There has to be more to the story. The fire chief has just admitted that they shut down the sprnkler system in the fire area during suppression as claimed by Walmart, but still did not provide an explanation.
A buff organization? What in God's name did they possibly do except serve food and drink to those at the scene. Shakespere was right!
 

entropychaser

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Walmat has named 34 fire departments and fire organizations, to include a fire buff organization and the Indinianapolis fire marshal in their suit admitting a $5M Indiana state cap for damages. Most are small departments and it would appear Walmart is blaming all involved. The suit seems almost petty for Walmart. There has to be more to the story. The fire chief has just admitted that they shut down the sprnkler system in the fire area during suppression as claimed by Walmart, but still did not provide an explanation.
$5 million per defendant...that'll just about cover it
 

mack

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$5 million per defendant...that'll just about cover it
I believe the law limits the suit to $5M total - not $5M per organization listed. Walmart acknowledges total damages exceeds the $5M limit.

It is also odd that the suit notes shutting off the sprinkler system contributed to the excessive destruction - but how does the 30 volunteer companies and fire organizations share responsibility? Many companies probably arrived for relief or after the fire was under conrol. Seems like a blanket condemnation of the hundreds of FFs involved.
 

entropychaser

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I believe this "game" will be much more complicated than you think. The lawsuit petition is only the opening salvo.
First, Walmart will likely have little difficulty demonstrating negligence, failure of duty, and failure to meet expected standards. Next, Walmart will offer legal theories why a cap should not apply- known in the industry as "busting the cap". Once that happens it will be the Wild West. Property and business interruption damage is obvious. Walmart will remind everyone that the facility employed a whole bunch of Hoosiers.
My prediction: settled out of court in 2 years for $50-100 million, and a promise to pay for the rebuild. Abeyance of property taxes for 10-15 years may be thrown in as well as a promise for increased fire department training.
 

EdMc

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I believe the law limits the suit to $5M total - not $5M per organization listed. Walmart acknowledges total damages exceeds the $5M limit.

It is also odd that the suit notes shutting off the sprinkler system contributed to the excessive destruction - but how does the 30 volunteer companies and fire organizations share responsibility? Many companies probably arrived for relief or after the fire was under conrol. Seems like a blanket condemnation of the hundreds of FFs involved.
It's a common tactic in lawsuits, though a buncha poo on the wall and see what sticks. They sue EVERYONE and let the courts decide who gets the bill
 

grumpy grizzly

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I believe the law limits the suit to $5M total - not $5M per organization listed. Walmart acknowledges total damages exceeds the $5M limit.

It is also odd that the suit notes shutting off the sprinkler system contributed to the excessive destruction - but how does the 30 volunteer companies and fire organizations share responsibility? Many companies probably arrived for relief or after the fire was under conrol. Seems like a blanket condemnation of the hundreds of FFs involved.
And can someone please explain suing the fire buff organization!
 

RCL

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My first thought is I hate instant experts that have never served a day in the occupation a that is being sued. In some cases I'm 100% a fan of go-get them.
In others, there's a lot more then meets the eye as most of us know on this forum. Just because a certain action(s) occurred, doesn't mean that it was willfull destruction. It sounds great that theres book and At a fire a commander of some rank stands there and says gather round my little firefighters while I read you a story from the good book of fire suppression written by Dewey Cheatum and Howe. That lasts all of 5 minutes if your lucky.

The best analogy of a fire I've personally been to, that was smaller but a similar situation, was a plastics manufacturer that made plastic parts and hoses for irrigation sprinklers etc. We got the call at 801 am. Shift change. And left at noon the next day. After the fire I went out and walked thru what was left of the bldg with our fire Marshall and state fire marshall. and learned a lot. Even if the bldg had sprinklers, it wouldn't have mattered. The cause of the fire was a single large sodium vapor light, same ones that are at every sports stadium and most big box bldgs I've seen, failed, over a rack of plastic parts. When they fail, they fail at over 2000 degrees. The bulb set the top of the rack on fire which climbed the ceiling, rolled over the next rack and blew the next bulb in line which set that rack on fire. And so on down the line. Eventually the fire filled in the unburned racks with burning ones. Which complicated things. The bldg was irregularly shaped to begin with, with multiple doors and bay doors down both sides. With offices and break rooms scattered throughout.

We had to open every door. Why? Because the bldg is not empty until we say it is. Another reason? It was the only way to find the fire and get infront of it. Eventually we did. With 2 RAM guns and a deck gun.

Going back to the Walmart fire, with the fire starting during daylight hours, when most people were in the bldg, I can see why doors would be opened. Some one has to make sure the bldg is empty. And get in front of the fire.
Especially after being in my local Walmart with my then 4 year old, that apparently had an electrical fire, while we were in the bldg. Im not impressed with there emergency procedures. If your ever in a Walmart that is being evacuated, it's every man woman and child for themselves. Don't rely on the staff.

I'm not condoning what the ic did, but I'm not condemning them either. I wasnt there and dont want to 2nd guesd them. But i do want to learn frkm them. I think there's a lot more to this story that we don't know, and blame is being pushed anywhere it can.
 

grumpy grizzly

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Sprinkerled buildings. There was a job last winter in the Chicago area of a fully sprinkelered building that held records, paper ones I believe. Well there was some collapse that rendered the sprinkelers useless, all they did was make puddles after the pipes broke. Units were there for several days using tower ladders and old fashion hand lines.
 

RCL

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Sprinkerled buildings. There was a job last winter in the Chicago area of a fully sprinkelered building that held records, paper ones I believe. Well there was some collapse that rendered the sprinkelers useless, all they did was make puddles after the pipes broke. Units were there for several days using tower ladders and old fashion hand lines.
I agree and I can see several scenarios where a system would need to be shutdown.
 

Bulldog

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My prediction: settled out of court in 2 years for $50-100 million, and a promise to pay for the rebuild. Abeyance of property taxes for 10-15 years may be thrown in as well as a promise for increased fire department training.
My prediction is just the opposite, I believe the courts will throw the lawsuit out. And the only people that will lose will be the lawyers who will collect their millions! It's not as if Walmart is going to go broke over this.
 

turk132

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Every fire that I went to in a sprinklered building, where the sprinkler system activated, the system had to be shut down at some point in the operation. A line would be stretched and advanced to the fire area (indicated by the discharging sprinkler head(s)). A radio equipped member would go to the sprinkler control valve and depending on conditions i.e. no visible fire or fire controlled by the sprinkler system, would be notified to shutdown the system. With a charged line in place any remaining fire would be extinguished and overhaul could begin. If for some reason the fire flared up, the member at the valve would be notified to open the closed valve. Obviously it was a coordinated operation and the decision would be made based on the conditions observed in the fire area. Sprinklers are very effective at extinguishing or controlling an incipient fire, if the system is designed properly and/or the fire doesn't initially overwhelm the system. The worst thing about operating at these fires is the sprinklers cool the smoke, which doesn't rise, so natural ventilation is limited.
 
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