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Was a San Francisco Firefighter Used as a Scapegoat?

Firemen at work on fire

July 6, 2013, Asiana Air Flight 214 collided with a seawall and burst into flames. The San Francisco Fire Department responded quickly, rescuing 304 people, but it was those who didn’t survive that caught media attention. One of those victims was struck by SFFD fire engines, and the resulting fallout has left one San Francisco Firefighter fighting to not be the department’s scapegoat.

Why a San Francisco Firefighter Almost Became a Scapegoat

After clipping the seawall, three passengers were ejected from Asiana Flight 214. These three victims perished, but one of them drew particular attention. A teenage girl who was ejected, landed on the tarmac and was covered by firefighting foam. Later two fire engines struck the teenager’s body.

In the media firestorm that followed, a name was leaked from SFFD. A 24-year veteran of the department was targeted as the driver that hit the teenager who was covered in foam. This SFFD veteran was labelled the cause of the teenager’s death, but later facts didn’t match those accusations.

It would later be revealed that this veteran firefighter was driving the second fire engine that struck this girl, not the first. It would also be revealed in the investigation of the Flight 214 fire that the girl had actually passed before her body was struck by fire engines. These revelations led to the veteran firefighter filing a lawsuit against SFFD and the City of San Francisco.

The firefighter whose name was leaked claimed that she was targeted as retaliation because she is a lesbian of color who has been outspoken about instances of discrimination and harassment in the department. SFFD’s Fire Chief says she was unaware of this veteran’s claims, but instead of fighting a lengthy court battle, the City Attorney’s Office has chosen to settle instead. The firefighter at the center of this controversy is due to receive $250,000 when the Board of Supervisors approves the settlement.

Brought to you by the attorneys at Mary Alexander & Associates, P.C.—when the people of the Bay Area need legal help, we are ready to fight.

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