Fatal fire in Gabian: Hérault SDIS ordered to pay €877,358 to the firefighter victims and their families

Eight years after the Gabian fire, the SDIS (Departmental Fire and Rescue Service) of Hérault was condemned by the administrative court. He will have to compensate the firefighters who were seriously burned and the family of the one who was killed.

On August 10, 2016, in Gabian, four firefighters responding to a forest fire saw their truck surrounded by flames. One of them, aged 24, died from his injuries, and two others, aged 28 and 22, were seriously injured. A fourth firefighter, then aged 41, was also injured.

Seized by two volunteer firefighters and the beneficiaries of the deceased, the administrative court of Montpellier condemned the Departmental Fire and Rescue Service (SDIS) of Hérault to pay them the total sum of €877,358.52 in compensation for the damage they suffered following the service accident that occurred eight years ago.

The Court, after noting that the applicants were justified in requesting no-fault liability from the SDIS, considered that the service accident was also attributable to faults in the organization of the SDIS service, allowing full compensation for damages suffered by victims or their beneficiaries.

Criminal proceedings still ongoing

He judged that the errors in the chain of command at the time of the security drops, as well as the dilapidation and poor maintenance of the forest fire tanker (CCF) in which the victims had taken place and the absence of a breathing air system within the CCF, constituted culpable failings in the organization of the service which contributed to the occurrence of the service accident of August 10, 2016 .

With this judgment, the administrative court followed the recommendations of the public rapporteur who ruled to this effect on May 24. It was the first time since the tragedy that this case came before the courts. Documents from the criminal proceedings, still in progress, had been communicated to the administrative court so that it could rule on this compensation procedure.

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