Smoker burns down another house, this time in Fields Corner

Fields Corner fire

The Boston Fire Department reports "careless disposal of smoking material" made 12 people homeless and injured a firefighter this morning at 24 Freeman St., right behind the inbound platform at the Red Line Fields Corner station.

The department says the fire started under the 2 1/2-story home's rear porch and went to two alarms after firefighters arrived around 10:15 a.m.

The injured firefighter suffered burns, the department says, adding damage was estimated at $300,000.

Adam Myerson shot some video from the platform. He reports:

I could smell burning rubber from the platform, turned around and the porch was on fire. Took a minute for the whole thing to go up, then my train came.

He adds that, yes, he called 911 first.

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yet another smoker makes people homeless

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Porches don't catch on fire by themselves - they catch on fire because jackasses who pollute their body with cancerous chemicals smoke on porches. Our neighbor smokes nearly every night on his back porch and even with the windows closed, the stench seeps in. In the summer, it's completely disgusting.

How many fires will it take before smoking in shared housing situations is banned? Nobody should have their life endangered, lose their home, and all their belongings, because of a smoker.

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Hopefully other tenants know they can - and SHOULD - sue

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From my days years ago working for a large, mutual insurance company in underwriting, I am aware that many people are not aware that if the activity of another tenant results in either (a) the loss of property and/or (b) the loss of life or damage to life, both the landlord and the tenant involved in activity are liable and can and should be sued. The landlord very most likely has insurance and if the tenant who was smoking has apartment insurance, than the insurance companies will very eagerly settle out of court. Ultimately, if a smoker in the building where you rent/lease causes a fire and that's the report that comes out of the fire department, than both the smoker and landlord are liable. You can sue for payment through any existing insurance policies, as well as personal wealth for landlord and smoker.

A landlord has a very heavy liability burden when it comes to the safety of his/her property, and ascertaining tenants are not engaging in activity which can cause bodily harm or harm to property of other tenants falls under the small print of that liability burden. EVEN if tenants sign a lease that specifically states smoking is allowed on the property by tenants (and it's unlikely a lease includes that because a landlord would be completely foolish to put that in writing because of said liability), fire started by a cigarette has a liability guarantee built-in. Obviously the smoker was careless - thus the liability. A landlord has the legal responsibility of ascertaining no activity takes place at the property which may harm body or property of other tenants.

So, to any tenant who ever finds themselves in a situation like this, hire a lawyer - there are many who will do the work with no payment with the 1/3 of claim pay out agreement - and file suit. If MORE people sue in these situations, we'll see a quicker move toward NO SMOKING IN BUILDINGS by landlords and management companies and these same people will take great care to be sure the rules are followed.

As for smokers, yes, it's your right to do what you want to your body, but be real about that and find a place to smoke where ONLY YOU will suffer the consequences. I feel so bad for these poor children of smokers or children with adult caretakers or relatives who subject them to second and third hand smoke in cars and homes and even simply standing next to them or in the vicinity outdoors. That's the epitome of selfishness. That smoke on your jacket or in your hair besides being gross smelling is full of carcinogens which get into the air and on to furniture where your children are sucking it into their lungs or ingesting it.

And for all you mommy and daddy wannabes, consider this: You are harming your eggs and genetic material so yeah, you are already setting your future children up to be less than stellar. And sure, tell yourself that "some day" I'll quit and my lungs will heal. But the medical fact is, each time you smoke, you smoke damage every inch of your body and organs and tissue will never recover from a lack of oxygen and the carcinogens which are altering the cellular health of your heart and liver and skin and etc. won't "heal". Quit while you are still alive - meaning still in a state of life that doesn't require you to chop off a leg or get a liver transplant or pile on an inch of cake make up because your oxygen-deprived skin looks like wet sandpaper.

I've always liked the idea of "smoke huts". Build one. No windows. No ventilation. Just you and the carcinogens. Go in there and smoke and exercise your rights.

Please, smokers, don' t reply with your argument about "sugary food" and "coffee". Statistically, medically, factoid driven: It's apples and oranges. And when someone eats a bar of chocolate, there's no cancer-causing chemicals filling the air.

And while I'm on my soapbox, one more thought that hopefully will reach someone out there and encourage them to quit: My child, who has never been near anyone who smokes and was raised to cover his mouth and stop breathing when forced to walk by someone smoking, will always be healthier than your child and outright statistically live an economically and socially and healthier lifestyle than your child. Get competitive people! Don't you want your child to have the same advantages of my child? Or maybe it doesn't matter to you. Maybe your smoking is more important.

If nothing else smokers-out-there, do it for your kids.

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Yes, you can sue, but what if

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Yes, you can sue, but what if the tenant has no money and no assets? Also, hiring a lawyer costs thousands. Not everyone has that kind of money. Having lived through a fire in a building caused by the negligence of a college student, I would HIGHLY recommend getting excellent insurance coverage if you don't already have it. Check off every single box for every single option available to you. Pay for it. That additional $100 per year for all of the 'extras' saved us tens of thousands of dollars in the end. Some of the people in the building had to file for bankruptcy and loss their condo, including a man who was serving overseas in Afghanistan. There are still lawsuits ongoing years later. It's a shit-show when there's a major fire.

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"Yes, you can sue, but what

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"Yes, you can sue, but what if the tenant has no money and no assets? "

Wage garnishing. Courts can still force the defendant to repay over time.

"Also, hiring a lawyer costs thousands."

Well, a)if you have insurance, your insurance company sues the tenant. b)many lawyers work off a percentage of the settlement.

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Renters insurance yes, and, in fact your insurance company....

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Of course, renter's insurance is a must. It's very affordable, and, like all property insurance it's based on percentages and limits. In other words, you can't insure your "contents" for a zillion dollars, and policies (homeowners, rental, business) are set in a way that limits replacement value.

That being said, apartment dwellers should have insurance, and remember that your own insurance company will sue to recoup whatever they pay out to you if another party is negligent. And, in turn, YOU can sue for liability: the stress of the fire; the disruption to your life and lifestyle; the negligence of your landlord and/or property management company in not enforcing safe living activity at their building. Again, determent is typically the greatest force behind social changes: If landlords understand they are responsible (financially) for the negligent behavior on premise of their tenants, well, there will be a change in enforcement and tenant-vetting by landlords over time.

I also think if you live in shared housing you owe it to yourself and loved ones to call out other tenants on their behaviors. It's easy enough to know if someone is smoking in the building, especially these 2 and 3 families. Knock on their door or approach them when they are walking up the driveway and calmly let them know they are engaging in unsafe activity which is harming other tenants and it will need to stop. Call the landlord. Tell them again. Stick up for your right to a safe living environment and your right to clean air. If more people approached this horrific, selfish habit by neighbors; co-workers; family; friends in this manner, the stigma of smoking and the message of just how unhealthy it is would be louder.

Ask people to move. Stop on a sidewalk as you spot smokers and kindly ask them to move. If they don't or say no, cross the street and make a point of covering your mouth and holding your nose. In my experience, I find smokers as a group to typically be anxious people with dependent and weak personalities, and they also know they are engaging in activity that is killing them - even those who brush it off. If you ask them to move or communicate to them in a non-threatening manner, they will back down and back away. And the ones that don't, just make that grossed out, quasi I-feel-so-bad-for-you face and shrug and remove yourself from their area in a big, bold way.
Treat their smoking as a death trap because that's exactly what it is...would you walk into a room filled with chemicals or let your child go to a school filled with chemicals or rub their hands on a couch covered in asbestos or let them ride in a vehicle with poisonous gas being pumped in?

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Moving away from the smokers' area is one thing, but

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people who smoke in the general vicinity of buildings, and on sidewalks, especially in densely populated urban and suburban areas, or near forests in rural areas are endangering everything and everybody around them. What's unfortunate is that many, if not most of them, seem not to give a wet rat's ass about other people and things.

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Well, Annie (not verified)...

...seems the landlord is the deep pockets here. So, a few small problems...when a tenant rents a property, they have the right of 'quiet enjoyment' of said property. If you ever owned rental property, even an owner-occcupied three family, then you'd know that and a whole bunch of stuff you can't do in Mass, stuff that will get you sued, no fire, no smoking, nothing.
F'rinstance, " A landlord has the legal responsibility of ascertaining no activity takes place at the property which may harm body or property of other tenants. " OK, no smoking, no drinking, no medical marajuana (Federal Offense, ya, really), no guns, no extension cords under the rugs, you get the picture. There will be weekly inspections.
Maybe the answer is the landlord can buy 'stupid' insurance as protection against the negligent actions of tenants, actions totally out of the control of the landlord.
Hold on a second. That's part of every policy. It's called 'liability' insurance. This covers the landlord for the nonsense (evil schmokers, drug dealing, food on the stove (an everyday occurrence in Boston, ask anyone with a fire scanner), slip and fall on their own kitchen floor, etc) caused by circumstances out of his or her control.

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Well DMC, you missed my point

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Well DMC, you missed my point. Insurance works in a larger way. I know this because I have underwriting and claim experience on a national level. If the tenant upstairs overfills their tub and leaves the water running and waters comes through the ceiling and ruins your infant's crib and crib linens then yes, your tenant insurance will cover the cost of replacement and, in turn, your insurance company will contact the landlord's and tenant upstairs insurance company and they will all go back and forth about who is going to pay what. But the crib owner's child could have been killed had he/she been in that crib. This is gross negligent activity by the upstairs tenant. Let's say the tenant doesn't have rental insurance. Well, then the landlord is responsible. And as the mother of an infant who could have been killed by this negligent behavior I can certainly sue the landlord for liability. In a fire, it is so, so, so much more. Just because a landlord has an insurance policy, that doesn't mean that's the end-all to recovery. That landlord can be sued OUTSIDE the limits of the policy. And any half-capable lawyer will file financial recovery requests. You are covered for liability through a policy, but that doesn't mean your own personal finances are "off limits" when you are sued. And believe me all of the parties involved - landlord; insurance companies; insurance companies own lawyers; landlord's lawyer will all have lengthy calls and negotiations about working this all out. The goal for these players is always to settle out of court because errr....if you go to trial do you think a judge/or jury is going to feel sympathy toward the smoker who dropped a cigarette or the woman drawing a bath who fell asleep watching television while the water was running?

The one part of insurance and liability people often don't recognize is the "care" required is different for different people. If you are a landlord you have a greater "care" requirement for your tenants than you do for your own family. If you own a pool and your next door neighbor has children you own greater "care" to that neighbor than the neighbor with no children.

There are more subtleties to liability than people tend to recognize.

So yeah, if a building where you lease or rent is involved in a fire and that fire was caused by someone smoking than as the innocent tenant the care that should have been afforded to you by (a) the landlord and (b) the other tenant is very great in the view of insurance industry and legal system.

Sue. Get every penny you can from the landlord. If you want to be a landlord it comes with the onus of vetting your tenants and ascertaining rules are followed. Period. If something happens on your watch, you are responsible. However you monitor smoking or other unsafe activity at your tenement is your business, and no judge or insurance company is going to give any consideration to whatever issues you may have had in monitoring the activity or evicting a tenant who doesn't comply or anything else. Landlords need to put their big boy or big girl pants on and manage their property effectively.

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Seriously?

How am, as a landlord, supposed to prevent a tenant from overfilling a tub or flicking a cigarette off the porch? I can ban smoking in the building, but I can't ban taking a bath and being an idiot. I just don't get how the landlord would be at fault in that scenario. Do I need to include a million provisions in the lease regarding how to fill a tub and how to extinguish open flames?

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My god---what the hell is wrong with people?

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Sure, the landlord is responsible for implementing rules against smoking either inside or within the general vicinity of his/her rental property, but tenants, too, have to take responsibility and use common sense, especially when they're renting in what's obviously a very old building, and also have other tenants living right near them, whether they be next door, or on floors either above or below them. What the hell is wrong with people that they're so irresponsible that they insist on smoking inside their place of residence, are careless, and end up making other people suffer or put their lives in danger as a consequence of their stupid-assed behavior? There seems to be little or no accountability these days for actions and behaviors, which is a huge problem.

A guy I'd grown up going to school with, who'd taken to the bottle full-time after high school ended up burning his own house down, and didn't even remember whether the fire had been caused by a cigarette or a space heater. He'd obviously been smoking in bed in a state of drunkenness, and burned his own house down that way. Sure, he'd built that house with his own hands, and was in the process of re-building it at the time of our 20th-year high school reunion, but that sure didn't excuse the fact that he could've endangered or taken the lives of everybody near him, including his own.

The lack of responsibility on the part of people never fails to astound.

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