ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – The family of the Roswell firefighter who died last year after a fireworks explosion has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city of Roswell and fireworks supplier. Several other firefighters have joined the lawsuit.
Jeffery Stroble a 17-year veteran with the Roswell Fire Department died last July a month after the fireworks he and 11 other firefighters were unloading from a storage container exploded. Stroble’s family and seven other firefighters that were injured in the explosion have now filed a lawsuit against the city of Roswell.
“We’re not trained in pyrotechnics,” said Robert Sanchez President of the New Mexico Professional Firefighter Association. According to the lawsuit, the fire department asked the city to hire a contractor who is qualified to set up firework displays.
The lawsuit claims the city did hire an expert in 2018 but had the fire department do it in 2019. According to the State Fire Marshal’s report, the 12 men were in a small metal building attaching electric matches to the fireworks to prepare them for the upcoming display when one of them ignited, causing all of the other fireworks to explode.
The lawsuit also claims Flying Phoenix Fireworks is liable for the wrongful death and injuries to the firefighters because they failed to provide any formal training or even instructions for the firefighters. “People need to be trained and have experience to, to do that. Yeah, we’re talking about Class 1 explosives, on the low explosive side but still. We don’t use detonators we use igniters or e-match but they are very harmless if you know exactly how to handle them,” said Gregg Smith with the American Pyrotechnics Association.
KRQE News 13 reached out to the city of Roswell and the Flying Phoenix Fireworks Company. Both refused to comment on the lawsuit.
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