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Former Vancouver Fire Department captain sues city for negligence

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: February 21, 2024, 5:44pm

A former Vancouver Fire Department captain is suing the city for alleged negligence after he was injured while fighting a 2021 duplex fire.

Gregory Weber and his wife filed the suit Jan. 31 in Clark County Superior Court, records show. Weber’s complaint criticizes how department leadership handled the fire response, including sending him inside a burning residence he said they knew was unoccupied.

A spokeswoman for the city of Vancouver declined to comment Wednesday, citing pending litigation.

Firefighters responded Feb. 22, 2021, to a fire at the Logan’s Court duplexes at 1114 W. 36th St., in the Lincoln neighborhood. Before any crews arrived at the complex, they received information that all occupants had evacuated, according to the lawsuit.

Still, the lawsuit alleges the incident commander ordered Gregory Weber’s unit go inside the building. Once inside, Weber radioed to request crews immediately cut a hole in the roof to vent the smoke. But before any crews did that, the ceiling collapsed on top of Weber, knocking him to the ground, the complaint states.

Another firefighter found Weber under a piece of drywall, unconscious, and the firefighter pulled him by his shoulder straps outside to safety. According to the complaint, no one announced “Mayday,” which is a part of Vancouver fire’s protocol when a firefighter is injured.

After the ceiling collapsed, the incident commander ordered everyone to stay outside. Medical personnel evaluated Weber about an hour later, the suit states.

The complaint states Weber suffered serious injuries, and he continues to suffer from a disability. It did not specify the extent of his injuries.

The suit alleges the department endangered Weber’s health and violated state law and agency policy throughout the incident.

“On Feb. 22, 2021, Capt. Gregory Weber, a 30-year veteran of the Vancouver Fire Department, suffered career-ending injuries,” Weber’s attorney said in a news release. “A basic rule of firefighting is that a firefighter’s life should only be put at risk for the life of another, not mere property: ‘A life for a life. Less for less.’ This basic rule was violated when Capt. Weber and his crew were ordered into a burning building known to be unoccupied.”

According to Columbian archives, one other firefighter suffered not life-threatening injuries while battling the blaze.

Weber and his wife are seeking a variety of damages, including loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering and emotional distress. The suit doesn’t state the exact amount they’re seeking.