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Injured firefighter sues Buffalo Fire Department

Says he was "left behind in attic"
Posted at 6:18 PM, Aug 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-19 18:18:17-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Negligence, failure to provide firefighters with proper equipment, and being left behind. Those are three of the numerous things firefighter Eric Whitehead alleges in his lawsuit against the City of Buffalo and the Buffalo Fire Department.

Whitehead suffered severe burn injuries to his hands and arms following a January 10th fire on Butler Avenue.

"He's been through horrific pain and suffering," said Whitehead's lawyer, Charles Desmond. "Burn injuries are terrible and the recovery process is very difficult."

Whitehead said he was left behind in the burning attic, where something hit him, and left him disoriented. He struggled to press his "man down" button to receive help, that is when he removed his gloves.

The lawsuit alleges the firefighters did not have proper gear including a "man down" button that could be accessed while wearing the protective gloves. Whitehead was rescued by his fellow firefighters.

Desmond said what followed that day was eight weeks of hospitalization, surgeries, and skin grafts. He added that his client has two more surgeries scheduled. The suit also looks at why the fire department sent firefighters into the attic in the first place.

"They know there's no individuals in the house, and it's an older dilapidated type house, why do you put firefighters into attic fires where we know the situations are grave," Desmond said.

The city and the fire department deny the allegations, according to court documents. A fire spokesperson said the department does not comment on pending litigation.