Hero Philadelphia Firefighter Dies in Building Collapse
A recent tragedy has reminded many Philadelphia residents not only of the critical role that firefighters play in their safety, but also of the enormous risks firefighters take and the sacrifices they often make in an effort to save others.
On Saturday, June 18, Lt. Sean Williamson, a 27-year Philadelphia Fire Department veteran, was attempting to save a building in Philadelphia’s Fairhill neighborhood with several of his fellow firefighters. Unfortunately, the building collapsed. Lt. Williamson lost his life as a result. He was 51 years old. Although Lt. Williamson was the only firefighter to lose his life in the collapse, others sustained injuries.
It appears unlikely that Lt. Williamson would have had an opportunity to save his own life. According to Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel, “This collapse occurred very quickly, with almost no warning.”
Fire Commissioner Thiel also commented on Lt. Williamson’s reputation among his peers. Thiel stated that Lt. Williamson had long been a highly respected member of the Philadelphia Fire Department. Addressing his own emotional reaction to the tragedy, Thiel said, “I’m not done crying.”
It remains unclear if any anomalous or uncommon factors resulted in the building collapsing with minimal warning. Early reports indicate the building had undergone some new construction in recent years despite the necessary permits having not been acquired. It cannot be said one way or the other yet whether this factor contributed to the accident.
Regardless, Lt. Williamson’s sacrifice was not in vain. According to a report from the mayor’s office, fire crews were requested at the scene shortly before 2 AM. The firefighters at the scene managed to safely evacuate eight people from the building.
The report from the mayor’s office indicates that it took about an hour to get the fire under control. Despite the fire seeming to be under control,the building collapsed a few minutes after 3 AM.
The fact that Lt. Williamson and several other firefighters were still at the scene when the fire had been determined to be under control was normal. It is routine for firefighters to stay at the scene of a fire that has been controlled in an effort to assess the structural integrity of a building. Sadly, remaining at the scene cost a veteran firefighter his life this time.
Ideally, such tragedies would never occur. That said, when they do, it is important for injured firefighters and the families of firefighters who have lost their lives to be familiar with their rights to compensation.
Injured firefighters and the surviving loved ones of firefighters who passed in the line of duty often have the option of filing claims to recover Workers’ Compensation benefits. Workers’ Compensation benefits can provide financial compensation for such losses as medical bills, lost wages, and other losses associated with a firefighter’s injuries or death.
However, recovering compensation in these circumstances can often be a complex process. It is wise to enlist legal help when seeking Workers’ Compensation benefits.
If you are a brave Philadelphia firefighter who has been injured on the job, optimize your chances of properly securing the compensation for which you may be eligible by hiring a Philadelphia firefighters work injury attorney at Gross & Kenny, LLP, to represent you. Learn more about how we can help by contacting us online or calling us at 215-512-1500 to schedule a consultation.