Florida Firefighter Sues Homeowner after Responding to Fire

The fire began about 5 a.m. on a Sunday in March. A man lit two burners to cook a meal, but fell asleep.

He awoke in his house to the choking pain of smoke. The fire had spread from the kitchen to the attic, and by the time firefighters arrived, the man was running outside as flames consumed his home.

South Pasadena fire Lt. Lawrence Wilson was on scene as part of mutual aid agreement with St. Petersburg. As they tried to put it out, Wilson was injured. He went to the hospital and missed work. He still suffers from pain. But his injury didn’t come from the fire or smoke or a hazard caused by the fire. Instead, he slipped on a piece of tile.

So, Wilson sued the homeowner.

The suit, filed against Carl Gregory, says Wilson’s pain and suffering, hospital bills, legal bills and emotional distress were because the owner installed “slippery tile on the front stairs.” Neither man could be reached for comment.

Wilson is able to sue Gregory, citing negligence and failing to maintain the property, because 23 years ago the Florida Legislature abolished the “Firefighter’s rule,” which for years had protected citizens from legal repercussion when emergency responders were injured on the job. In 1990, lawmakers tweaked the statute.

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