In a recent decision, a state appellate court dismissed a firefighter’s lawsuit after she was run over by a truck while sleeping at base camp. After a fire broke out in a national forest, firefighters were deployed to fight the fire. A base camp was set up for firefighters so that they could stay near the forest. The fire protection districts, who were managing the fire, were required to set up a quiet, shaded sleeping area for firefighters at the camp.
When the plaintiff returned to camp, the designated sleeping area was full. Some of the firefighters went to sleep by the horse barns, but she did not want to sleep there due to the conditions, and she asked her supervisor if she could sleep in the infield. Her supervisor agreed. Some others slept there as well. On the next night, after fighting the fire all day, she returned to base camp at around 9 p.m. She again asked to sleep in the infield, and her supervisor agreed. At around 10 p.m., another employee drove a water truck across the infield and ran over the woman. The truck crushed the woman’s chest, ribs, lungs, and left shoulder, and fractured her back. It also permanently damaged her heart, lungs, and eyes.
The woman sued the fire protection districts, among others, claiming she was injured because the district created a dangerous condition on public property. The defendants claimed they were immune from suit because the firefighter’s rule prevented the woman from recovering compensation. The state’s court of appeals agreed with the defendants and dismissed the lawsuit, finding the case was barred under the firefighter’s rule.