A recruit for the Nashville fire department has sued the city for $1.5 million dollars, after a July 17, 2017 accident where she fell in the department’s new training tower.
Jennifer Lockhart claims negligence on the part of fire chiefs that resulted in her neck and back injuries, as well as emotional damage.
The News4 I-Team obtained video of the accident as well as internal interviews which detailed the accident. The video shows Lockhart falling during the Nance drill, which teaches how to use to ropes to lower a firefighter down a hole to rescue a fallen comrade.
According to the internal review, District Chief Trey Nelms, who was leading the training, was lowered first. Lockhart told an investigator for the fire department that she first inquired then if Nelms wanted an additional rope for a safety line.
“I was like, hey chief, can we use this rope? To do safety? And he said, ‘F*** no,’’’ Lockhart said in her interview. When it was time for Lockhart to be lowered, she told the investigators she made the same request.
“I want a safety line. And he goes, and he just kind of laughed, and he was like, ‘No,’” Lockhart said.
The video showed Lockhart lowered through a hole from the upper floor, and then when she passes through to the first floor, she falls several feet, landing on her oxygen tank.
“It was terrible. Terrible injury. Terrible accident. It could have been prevented,” said Rocky McElhaney, Lockhart’s attorney.
A spokesman for the Nashville Fire Department said it is their policy not to comment on pending litigation, but confirmed that the Nance drill hadn’t been performed in the last two training classes for recruits because of time constraints.
Fire chief Trey Nelms, who was temporarily demoted but only because investigators found he was unprofessional towards recruits, remains on the job.
McElhaney said his client will likely never return.
“She's shattered. She's hurt emotionally and physically,” McElhaney said.
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