Vincent McGuinness, a fireman from Dundalk, County Louth, has settled a High Court compensation claim for a five-meter fall from a ladder while fighting a fire at a derelict house at Culhane Street, Dundalk, in February 2004. Mr McGuinness took the action against his employer Dundalk Town Council and the owner of the building that caught fire.
The case against the building owner was on the basis that he failed to secure the premises adequately and failed to ensure that a fire would not occur there. Mr McGuinness was injured while following a direct orders to climb a ladder that was placed by a superior officer against iron guttering, which later collapsed and moved the ladder. Mr McGuinness landed on his back while his breathing apparatus canister was still attached to his back, causing a vertebra injury. Mr McGuinness spent spent three days in hospital and wore a neck brace for three months. Mr McGuinness was unable to work for five months.
It was claimed that a hydraulic ladder that was available on the fire truck at the incident should have been used. The council argued that it had taken all appropriate measures, there was contributory negligence, and that the fire was started by a third party and therefore the council had no liability in law.
The case was settled before the jury made an award, presumably because the defendants were afraid of what a jury would award to a fireman injured while bravely fighting a fire.