DC Responds to Metro Claims in Lawsuits Over Deadly Smoke

WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser praised firefighters Tuesday, but did not respond to Metro’s claim that the transit agency has no legal responsibility to help riders in the event of a fire emergency.

As WTOP was first to report, Metro denied Monday in a motion to dismiss lawsuits related to the deadly smoke incident near L’Enfant Plaza two years ago that it “owes a duty to WMATA’s passengers to assist, rescue and/or evacuate passengers on Metrorail trains in the event of a fire-emergency situation.”

“There will be an opportunity for us to respond to their legal claims and we’ll do it in the legal process,” Bowser said Tuesday afternoon when asked directly about Metro’s legal claim.

“What I will tell riders is that their fire department is ready to respond,” she said.

Metro’s court filings attempted to shift blame to the D.C. Fire and EMS Department, part of finger pointing that has been going on since the incident occurred. The National Transportation Safety Board found a number of failures in Metro, at the fire department, at D.C.’s 911 call center and elsewhere.

The District is expected to file a similar motion later this month to dismiss the lawsuits related to the smoke incident that killed 61-year-old Carol Glover.

“The District will defend itself and defend itself vigorously,” Bowser said.

Metro responded to Bowser’s short news conference with a statement citing efforts to improve safety across the system over the last two years.

“With regard to emergency response, a function on which Metro relies on the jurisdictions, riders are safer today as a result of Mayor Bowser’s efforts since the incident to improve training, interagency coordination, and fire department radio testing in the District of Columbia,” Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel said.

Bowser and D.C. Fire Chief Gregory Dean said the department has made great strides since the incident, including communications improvements and a dramatic increase in training for firefighters regarding incidents in the Metro system.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689, which represents most Metro employees, said in a statement that Metro still needs to do more internally to prepare for emergencies.

“Metro must be the first to take responsibility for its system,” the statement from ATU Local 689 President Jackie Jeter said. “WMATA’s leadership should be focused on training employees to be prepared for emergencies and creating a culture that will ensure the safety of riders and frontline employees.”

The post DC responds to Metro claims in lawsuits over deadly smoke appeared first on WTOP.

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