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Fire brigade bills fairground ride victims for rescue

AFP · 16 Nov 2009, 12:07

Published: 16 Nov 2009 12:07 GMT+01:00

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The thrill-seekers got more than they bargained for when the "Star Gate" ride, a large spinning wheel with rotating gondolas, in Berlin came to a terrifying halt 15 metres (50 feet) above the ground.

Finally saved after 44 long minutes, each person must now pay €281.43 ($420) after their ordeal.

Thorsten W., 39, who was on the ride with his wife and child, told the Bild daily: "We have been punished enough. Our son never wants to go on a carousel

again. And now we have to pay almost €850? Never!"

The operator of the ride refuses to pay because they didn't call the emergency services, and were capable of rescuing the 14 people themselves, Bild said.

"We didn't call the fire brigade ... We didn't need any help, and therefore we will not cover these costs," Ron Agtsch told the paper.

Stefan Fleischer, a spokesman for the Berlin fire service, defended the decision to send out bills, but said that the fire service was now looking into the affair.

Story continues below…

"This is not the fire brigade being cheeky or nasty. We performed a service, and ... the people rescued are now being billed," Fleischer told AFP.

He added that the people have the possibility to claim back the costs from their insurance firms, or to sue the operator.

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Your comments about this article

12:39 November 16, 2009 by nycinhamburg
since when do rescue worker/departments charge the victims who are being rescued? Am I missing something here? They needed help, they got it, end of story. Doesn't our tax dollars take care of this?
13:26 November 16, 2009 by joesjungle
You mean tax euros? LoL

But really, I think it is fair for the emergency services to charge people to recover the cost of fuel. However, the ride operator should pay the costs. Especially if it still took 44 minutes to rescue people from the ride.
14:01 November 16, 2009 by LancashireLad
You would think our taxes cover it, but they don't for ambulances ... that's why you have health insurance (don't get me wrong, I am condoning neither the fire service or the ride operator). Let's also not forget that those on the ride did not ask to be stranded so how can they be held responsible? They had no control over the situation whatsoever. The ride operator has a duty to make sure that his equipment is safe, so he is (mostly) responsible. Claiming that he could have got the people out himself is inadequate and an obvious attempt to mitigate responsibility. However, what about the TÜV representative that checked the ride before it was opened to the public? Does he/she not also bear some responsibility?
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