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Hearing: NACFD fireman can't show he's fit for duty
5/2/2013 6:00:00 AM
By Doug McMurdo
KINGMAN - The termination of a Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District firefighter who was injured in a hose-testing incident last summer was upheld during a personnel hearing Wednesday.
Engineer Steve Broadbent was one of three firefighters injured at the NACFD station on Northern Avenue during a hose-testing procedure.
According to Fire Chief Patrick Moore, the men were pressure testing a fire hose when it burst, shifted across the pad and swept them off their feet. Each of them sustained head injuries from hitting the concrete floor.
They were treated at Kingman Regional Medical Center and released the same day. One of the men returned to work within a couple of weeks, said Moore, while another has filed medical disability papers with the state and will likely retire. The man, a lieutenant, remains under the care of worker compensation doctors.
Physicians with the State Compensation Fund of Arizona treated Broadbent until Jan. 8. By that time he had exhausted his available time off through family leave, as well as his sick and vacation days.
Moore said an investigation into the accident revealed the trio of firefighters acted within personnel standards but "had become complacent."
He said they were within 15 feet of the hose when it burst and were standing on the wrong side of it. Moore also said the men failed to wear personal protective equipment, specifically helmets, that might have prevented their injuries.
"They were trying to multitask and save some time," said Moore, who disciplined the firefighter who returned to work by posting a letter of reprimand in his personnel file.
Had they been more than 15 feet away from the burst hose they would have escaped injury, he said.
Moore said he advised Broadbent to make certain his medical records and releases from his physicians were provided to the Occupational Health department at Kingman Regional Medical Center.
Broadbent, however, said he was considering filing an appeal with the State Compensation Fund in an effort to continue his treatment, but he failed to do so despite being given several extensions from Moore.
The District effectively could have terminated Broadbent's employment on Jan. 8, the day the state released him from its care, but Moore gave him two 30-day unpaid leaves to give him time to take care of business.
Broadbent called no witnesses and said he had no objections with Moore's chronology of events.
He said he did file an appeal with the state, but could not provide documentation proving that claim. He said he could not provide KRMC with releases from his doctors that would have allowed him to return to work, but that was his ultimate goal.
"My goal is to get my job back," he said. "I'm fighting for my job ... I love what I do."
Attorney Charlotte Wells said no pleasure was taken in moving to terminate Broadbent's employment, but "it's the chief's duty to ensure personnel are fit to perform the service the public pays them to do."
Broadbent said he's waiting for doctors to "prove to him" he no longer has the physical wherewithal to perform the duties of a firefighter.
If they do convince him it's time to move on, he said he would seek a medical disability retirement.
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