Lt. Bruce Britt Honored with Red Cross Lifesaver Award

4 years 1 week 3 days ago Thursday, June 12 2014 Jun 12, 2014 Thursday, June 12, 2014 8:41:00 AM CDT June 12, 2014 in News
By: Zack Newman, KOMU 8 Digital Producer

JEFFERSON CITY - The Heart of Missouri Chapter of the American Red Cross will be giving former Columbia firefighter, Lt. Bruce Britt the organization's Lifesaver Award.

He will be awarded the honor posthumously, and is among nine other Lifesaver Award recipients. Britt died during rescue efforts in February when a walkway collapsed at the University Village Apartments. His wife, Leigh, will accept the award on his behalf at the Lifesaver Award event on June 24.

Brittany Vuerhrlen, the project manager and volunteer resource specialist for the American Red Cross, said the committee felt Britt's actions were deserving of the honor.

"Lt. Britt's actions were heroic and beyond his call of duty," she said.

Britt was on the second-floor walkway of the structure attempting to communicate with a resident when the structure collapsed. He suffered fatal injuries and was transported to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Attorney Rick Barry filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the University of Missouri on behalf of Britt's family. The university responded to the suit May 12 and denied all wrongdoing.

"That building was a trap waiting to kill someone," Barry said. "And it killed him."

Barry said the family sought at least $25,000 in damages. Documents released by MU show concerns with the complex "over the past five to ten years." Concerns included the reinforcing beams and concrete patching for some of the decks.

The University of Missouri Board Of Curators cited the Fireman's Rule as exemption of responsibility. The rule states firefighters are prevented from suing those whose negligence caused the fire that either caused the firefighter's injury or death.

The Curators said Britt's death was as a result of "in whole or in part by the negligence, comparative fault, or intentional acts of others in particulars presently unknown."

The University of Missouri cited "very questionable" framing on several walkways at the complex. It announced March 12 the complex would close June 30. Demolition is expected to begin on the site in mid-July or early August.

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