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San Diego faces lawsuit after construction worker falls through pole hole in fire station floor

The city of San Diego is being sued for serious injuries a construction worker suffered in March when he fell through a hole in the floor of a fire station being built in Hillcrest.

Crews had carved the hole so the two-story station would have a fireman’s pole, which allows firefighters to quickly slide down to the ground floor of a fire station instead of using a staircase.

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The lawsuit, filed by a workers’ compensation insurance company, says it is the fault of the city and the construction company that David Adjemian fell through the hole and suffered serious injuries that require ongoing medical care.

The hole was “uncovered, unmarked and unbarricaded,” according to the lawsuit filed by Old Republic General Insurance.

The defendants either knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, the lawsuit says, contending the problem had existed for an extended period.

The construction company, Erickson-Hall, has filed a cross-complaint saying Adjemian didn’t exercise due care to avoid the hole, contending that the defect in the floor was trivial and that the dangerous spot was “open and obvious.”

The cross-complaint also says that Calhoun Electric, which worked on the new station, failed to properly train and supervise its employees.

Adjemian was working for Cosco Fire Protection of San Juan Capistrano, which installs fire sprinklers and alarms in a variety of facilities on the West Coast.

Superior Court Judge Ronald L. Styn has scheduled a Feb. 22 readiness conference in the case.

The injury occurred during construction of a modernized Fire Station 5, which was completed in August.

The new station, which cost more than $9 million, houses the third-busiest fire engine in the city with nearly 6,000 calls annually, or an average of about 16 calls a day.

Only the engines serving City Heights and downtown San Diego answer more calls.

The new station replaced a much smaller one that operated on the same site since 1951. That station was demolished in 2016 when a temporary facility opened nearby at 4311 3rd Ave.

Crews then began work on the new 10,731-square-foot, two-story station. It is large enough to house a fire engine, a fire ladder truck and a chief emergency vehicle.

A spokeswoman for City Atty. Mara Elliott said by email last week that Elliott’s staff will review the litigation and respond through the courts.

Garrick writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.

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