Burn Injury Attorney Ben Wilson Answers Common Questions about Fire & Burn Safety


Attorney Ben Wilson, an appointee to the Northern California Wildfire Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, answers common questions about fire & burn safety.

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0:02 I've been doing fire and burn cases my, pretty much my whole career. 0:06 They're the most catastrophic, horrific injuries that anybody can experience. 0:15 Well, first everybody must understand that smoke detectors are meant to save 0:21 your life. And and so making sure that they have power and that they are 0:27 properly installed is extremely important. There's two different types of 0:33 smoke detectors: you have a photoelectric, and you have an ionization. 0:36 These are two different types of technology. Most people do not know that 0:40 one will detect smoke while the other will detect flames. There are certainly 0:46 situations where one smoke detector is more effective than others. You have to 0:54 look at your lease and the state's laws. Typically, your landlord has a duty to 1:00 provide a safe and habitable...habitable. Safe and habitable 1:07 environment. So, I'd have to look at the lease, read the language in the lease 1:12 and go from there. There's a lot of different fire safety equipment out 1:21 there. Each one is...each product is going to be different and operate differently. 1:27 You have devices that go up under your Vent-A-Hood and they have little fuses 1:33 on them and they will ignite and explode and blow powder down on top of a stove. 1:41 Then you have just your your standard fire extinguishers. Most of these 1:46 products, most all of these products. they have expiration dates. 1:50 Lots of people do not know that a smoke alarm has an expiration date and it is 1:56 industry-wide. Smoke alarms have a 10-year shelf life. That is important 2:02 information for people to know. 2:06 Well typically, the landlord is going to have a duty to inspect these devices, 2:12 make sure that they are operating, they're functional, and they're not 2:16 expired and if they're not doing that, then that's it is a safety hazard. It has 2:24 to do with experience in dealing with these manufacturers and dealing with the 2:27 tenants, or the landlord aspect of it. It's different duties as opposed to the 2:33 duty of a driver and the duty of a landlord, or the duty of a manufacturer 2:38 of a product. What I do on a daily basis is deal with specific manufacturers and 2:46 specific instances where people are injured in fires and explosions. 2:53 Burn injuries are unique. They leave scarring -- permanent scarring. And they can, 3:00 they can also affect you just on a daily basis, whether you're just in the 3:04 sunlight or out in the cold. Smoke inhalation injuries, those are 3:09 injuries to your lungs that affect your breathing, if you were in a fire you are 3:16 going to be exposed to the smoke which may or may not have certain chemicals in 3:20 it, or toxins that contribute to more severe injuries. And obviously, the heat 3:26 and flames. Second and third-degree burns are extremely painful and they will 3:34 permanently disfigure you or permanently scar you. You have to, you got to take care of 3:40 it for the rest of your life. Yes, absolutely. 3:46 Landlords have a duty and that duty is established either by state law or local, 3:50 national fire codes and in almost every single case that I have, I've found a national 3:57 fire code that has been violated. Whether it's about the landlord himself or the 4:02 maintenance technicians that work for this landlord. Property management 4:06 companies they have the duties in certain instances where they have to 4:12 maintain these fire safety products and oftentimes I most often seen instances 4:19 where they're not. And as a result of that, people die and people are burned. 4:25 I often see fires that occurred from unattended cooking. We'll use that as an 4:34 example. There are products and safety equipment that is required to be in a 4:41 home or in residential housing and if it is not properly maintained, properly 4:46 installed, and it's not functioning, that can result in serious injury or death. 4:52 These products such as, we'll use an example like an air bag. An air bag is 4:58 not intended to cause harm, it is intended to save people. And if they 5:04 don't function correctly, it doesn't work the way it's supposed to work, 5:08 then people suffer the consequences. It's the same thing with these fire 5:13 detection fire suppression devices. If they malfunction or they're not 5:19 operating correctly yeah, you run the risk of injury or death.