Brigade bosses settle £50,000 law suit launched by fire commander


FIRE chiefs have settled a 50,000 law suit launched by a senior officer who injured his back during a

“safety’ expedition on a boat sailing on the River Clyde.

Area commander Paul Tanzilli was thrown into the air from a seat on the bow of a rescue boat after a manoeuvre was made to stop the vessel colliding with a wave.

The fire chief, along with four colleagues from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service, had been assessing the vessel’s health and safety credentials at the time.

Similar incidents had already happened on the boat before, his lawyers claimed.

The 48-year-old sued his bosses for negligence, claiming there was no consideration taken for

“untrained personnel’ on board.

The action, which was lodged at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, was secretly settled out of court in April.

But members of Strathclyde Fire Board have said the claim could set a precedent for other firefighters to sue their bosses if they are injured in the line of duty.

Mr Tanzilli was on the pioneer multi boat at around 3pm on August 9, 2006, along with four other firefighters when he was injured.

The vessel was being taken from Yoker Ferry slip down to Erskine Bridge and back as part of a

“familiarisation’ trip.

As the boat sailed back up river a tug boat was seen heading down river at some distance away.

And as the boat was manoeuvred to deal with the wash from the tug it was hit by a wave, which caused the bow of the boat to be thrown upwards.

Mr Tanzilli was thrown into the air out of his seat and landed heavily on his lower back.

Cout papers lodged by Mr Tanzilli’s legal team said no consideration was taken of the enhanced risk to untrained personnel on board.

Mr Tanzilli, who was listed in court documents as living at Torrance, near Glasgow, suffered injury to his lower back. He sustained a fracture to the L1 vertebra.

Members of the Strathclyde Fire Board have now voiced concerns that the settlement could open the floodgates for more litigation.

South Ayrshire Councillor John Allan, who is a former firefighter with 30 years experience, said: “This certainly could provide an example case for others to sue the service. But in order to get a claim at all there has to be someone or something to blame. And they have to be able to prove it. So in this case, there must be someone or something to blame for any settlement to be made.

“However, when I joined I knew I was putting myself at risk. I accepted that.

“But we live in a culture of litigation now, and I suppose the fire service isn’t any different from any others in that sense. “

Hanzala Malik, who is a Labour councillor for Hillhead in Glasgow, and a member of the fire board, said he could not comment on individual cases. But, he added:

“Imagine you went away with the Boys Brigade and you came back covered in midge bites. Are you going to sue the BB for these things? “

The full details of the payout have not been disclosed.

Tanzilli did not respond to requests asking for his views on the issue.

And a spokeswoman for Strathclyde Fire and Rescue Service said bosses did not want to talk about the case.

However, Cllr Tommy Morrison, who is the fire board’s vice-convener said: “We are bound by health and safety, and that is the law. “

Mr Tanzilli is still working for the fire service as an area commander in Hamilton.

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