Trial date set for lawsuit over firefighter gear in Abbotsford

City has sued suppliers, saying breathing devices failed 

The City of Abbotsford bought dozens of self-contained breathing apparatuses in 2014

A trial date next fall has been set for a judge to hear the City of Abbotsford’s lawsuit against the supplier and manufacturer of breathing units it bought for its firefighters.

In April, the city sued Avon Protection Systems and Northwest Safework Solutions, alleging that 83 self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) units it bought were “dangerous products” that repeatedly failed. In response to the suit, Avon, the manufacturer of the units, and Northwest filed court statements alleging that the city failed to adequately train its firefighters.

The city spent $471,487 on the SCBA units, which are supposed to allow firefighters to breathe while working on fires and in other dangerous environments. The city is seeking its money back and damages.

In the lawsuit, the city says that as it attempted to put the units into service, it found the O-ring in the units “was prone to failure, which would cause the air supply contained in the Avon Units to leak, and to be depleted within a time of less than one minute.”

The notice of claim says the city notified the companies about the defects, but the problems weren’t fixed. The city says the products thus proved to be “dangerous products in their ordinary and intended use in firefighting operations.”

In their claim filed in court, the companies said the devices weren’t defective, and said a lack of training was to blame. They said firefighters failed “to exercise the care required to best ensure proper connection with the air cylinder.”

The companies want the suit dismissed and to be compensated for court costs.

The companies allege that while they tried to work to resolve the complaints, “The city did not co-operate with the defendants’ recommendations and advice but instead incurred the cost of purchasing other units from another supplier.”

None of the allegations has been proved in court.

A trial date has now been set for the case, with a judge set to hear testimony and evidence over five days, beginning Sept. 25, 2017, at B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.Trial date set for lawsuit over firefighter gear