Verizon FiOS Sets Another House On Fire

UPDATE: $1800 For FiOS House Fire Family Is Just An Advance, Says Verizon

A Philly family is the latest to have their house set on fire after Verizon FiOs installers drilled through their electrical line. The Sammlers says the smoke from the fire and chemicals used to fight it ruined all their possessions, $58,000 worth. Verizon has offered the family $1,800. What will the Verizon Policy Blog have to say about this incident? Probably something along the lines of, “while the smoke at the Sammler house may be gone, the desire of customers still clamoring for the blazing hot speeds of FiOS is yet to be quenched!”

Warrington couple sues Verizon over fire [The Intelligencer via Network World]

Verizon FiOs Install Results In Gas Line Breach
Verizon Spins Causing Electrical Fire During FiOs Install Into Sales Pitch
Verizon Techs Blow Out AP Reporter’s Electrical Box During Installation
Verizon Continues Weird, Pointless Flame War With Networkworld Blogger
(Photo: davidbivins)


Edit Your Comment

  1. 7j6cei says:

    OK, I don’t understand how all this keeps happening. I used to work in the field as a installer for a two way radio company, and never burned down anyone’s house.

    You just have to know what you are doing, take your time, and figure out what is behind the wall before you start drilling. When are these companies (Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, ETC) going to learn that using unskilled contract labor might not be such a cost savings in the end? How much do these companies spend in the end for call backs, poor work, missed appointments, house fires, and the like

  2. Terek Kincaid says:

    I just had FiOS installed at our house, and I can tell you very easily how this happens. There is a box that has to sit outside, and a power supply that has to sit inside (it isn’t weatherproof). For every single FiOS installation, they are going to have to put a wire through your wall. Odds are, the tech is going to hit something he shouldn’t.

    A good tech wouldn’t, but as we all know, every tech at Verizon is not ready for Junkyard Wars. The guy we got was very nice. He said he used to just lay the fiber optic, but that his contract stated he could only do that for 2-3 years. After that, he either had to start doing home installations or get laid off. So, first of all, most of those guys really don’t want to be there. They’d rather be doing other jobs for Verizon. Secondly, they’ve been laying wire, not putting it in peoples’ houses, so they don’t have a lot of experience. It is an almost certainty that a new guy is going to hit some wires.

    I’m not trying to mitigate Verizon’s responsibility for their tech’s mistakes. I’m just saying that the nature of the work and the nature of the people doing the work ensure that we’ll see many more incidents like this one, and that it won’t get better for a long time to come.

  3. Buran says:

    I continue to remain amazed that people continue to whine that they can’t get this service. You’re ASKING for your house to be burnt down and for you to lose everything you own? You’re insane.

  4. Buran says:

    @terekkincaid: It can and should change. They can and must hire competent techs.

  5. Riddar says:

    @Buran: Yes, we are all asking for our homes to burn. Each and every FiOS customer has suffered a fire during installation. All of them. Bar none. All that changes is the size of the fire.

    Anyway, I personally love the service, although a quality internet connection doesn’t excuse incompetent installation staff in these cases. And while my installer was great, extremely competent, Terrekincaid brings up what could be a problem. I’m hoping the family gets reimbursed.

  6. ChiboSempai says:

    blazing hot speeds? i dont think i need to point out the pun. im glad i dont need to both about FiOS and that my college dorm’s wired internet seriously downloads up to 5 megs a second (megabytes, not bit), and uploads around 3 megs a second. The average DL speed is more like 1 meg a sec, but its like 5 off big sites like microsoft. the u/l speed tho is almost always 3 megs a sec uploading to youtube. beats the crap out of my 45 kb/s upload at home.

  7. protest says:

    i live in horsham, wish i knew how to contact them to give them some baby clothes or something. what the hell is verizon thinking?? this has happened enough that verizon should have their own ‘tech burned down home’ claims department.

  8. xredgambit says:

    Hmm, I wonder if I can get my certification to install fiber, then get people to sign a waver and just burn their place down.
    Verison should pay everything. It would be the only way that they make sure their techs are properly trained. Because after the 5th house fire they cause, you’d think they would get their act together.
    Or else maybe people shouldn’t be greedy and want internet so blazing fast it really burns the house down.

  9. scoobydoo says:

    Wow. you can’t buy PR like this…

  10. xredgambit says:

    @ChiboSempai: You suck, you got to the pun first.
    With cable modem I go up to 2+ megs d/l on various sites. It is nice. And it’s as much as dsl (if you count local phone along with the dsl)

    How fast is FiOS supposed to go anyway?
    I’m guessing not as fast as everywhere else in the world.

  11. workingonyourinvoice says:

    @xredgambit: bad idea. please avoid reproduction.

  12. 7j6cei says:

    Dear Verizon,

    Please buy your installers wall scopes. This will allow them to see inside walls, and prevent burning our homes down. Also, if your installers don’t know what a wall scope is, please do not hire them or the contract company they work for.

    Thank You,

    Tech’s Who Know WTF They are Doing.


  13. gorckat says:

    i live in horsham, wish i knew how to contact them to give them some baby clothes or something.

    Try contacting the Fire Department. I imagine you could either drop stuff off at a station near the ‘incident’ and they’d be willing to get it to them, or they’d tell you exactly who to give to (Red Cross, for example).

  14. XTC46 says:

    @7j6cei: knowing some of the verizon techs, they would tear through wire with the first hole (that you put the wall scope in) and then watch as it starts to burn.

  15. Buran says:

    @Riddar: I know that not every installer does this. However, how many other services like this have a reputation of setting peoples’ houses on fire?


    I sure wouldn’t want to risk it after not one but repeated stories of them doing this.

  16. Murph1908 says:

    Ok, WTF does this guy’s sleep apnea machine have to do with anything? What a very POOR attempt by the author to try to generate more empathy for the couple.

    I already empathize with them for losing all their stuff. I don’t believe these are difficult to replace, though yes, they are expensive.

    Please keep in mind, I am not blaming the consumer. I am pointing out more blatant, hack-job writing from a journalist more interested in provoking outrage than reporting stories.

    (oh, but a little ‘blame-the-consumer’ to preempt an anticipated objection to my comments…if he didn’t have an emergency fund to replace important, life-critical medical equipment in case of loss, he shouldn’t be upgrading his internet speed)

  17. GS_Lyons says:

    So basically, where there’s smoke, there’s FiOS.

  18. IrisMR says:

    @Murph1908: Last time I checked they weren’t very very journalistic here. I mean, sure they report stories but they always take a side. Which is a good thing to me mind you.

    Now, Verizon just scrapped they whole stuff. 58k worth of stuff. And they pay only 2k? I think there is a good reason to be outraged here. I understand insurance, but it was THEIR fault. THEIR Incompetence. THEY should pay for it.

  19. erratapage says:

    There are two elements of any claim, liability and damages. In this instance, Verizon clearly admitted liability. What they are disputing is damages. And it’s probably not even Verizon–it’s probably Verizon’s insurance company.

    Insurance companies keep rates low by managing risk and by minimizing payouts, either through settlement or litigation. It’s our job as business owners, to make sure we buy insurance from companies that will take our image seriously. Verizon should get a new insurance company.

  20. BigNutty says:

    Now the family gets to play the back and forth game with offers and counteroffers. What a racket for the insurance companies and lawyer

  21. JiminyChristmas says:

    @terekkincaid: Man, you should really raise your standards a little bit.

    To me, this is pretty simple: if the tech doesn’t have the experience necessary to drill a hole through a wall without hitting a live wire…then Verizon needs to not send those techs to people’s houses until they get proper training.

    With minimal training and a $35 piece of equipment (an AC voltage detector) idiotic mistakes like drilling through a live wire are 99.999% avoidable. This stuff is just not that complicated.

  22. lockdog says:

    Fire is amazing. Shortly after we met, my wife (then hottie new girlfriend)’s house caught on fire. The fire broke out in the wall of the front bedroom on the second floor. The actual fire damage was limited to just that room and a bit of the attic above. Water caused a lot of plaster and drywall damage in the room below. Believe it or not, the fire department actually covered TVs and other electronics with heavy tarps before they got wet. But the smoke damage was amazing. The kitchen was located on the first floor in an addition off the back of the house. Yet everything was covered with a fine layer of soot. Dishes inside cabinet, crackers inside sealed waxed bags inside an closed box in the bottom and back of a closed cabinet. So its easy to see how a family can lose everything, even in a small fire.

  23. shor0814 says:

    The guys apnea machine is a vital part of his day to day living. They destroyed a device that is required to prevent a life threatening condition, and now he has to go without until it can be replaced. Delaying and/or lowballing the claim is un-ethical for a device this important.

  24. Riddar says:

    @Buran: I have heard of this twice. Verizon’s TV and Internet serves 8 million people, as of last quarter. Very rough math, that puts any given person at a 4 million to 1 chance of an installation fire, assuming no one left FiOS since rollout and there haven’t been more publicized house-burnings.

    Fun facts!
    Odds of being hit by lightning: 576,000:1
    Odds of Winning an Olympic medal: 662,000 to 1
    Odds of getting a royal flush in poker on first five cards dealt: 649,740 to 1

    With that perspective, I’m happier being able to choose what I considered to be a much better TV company. Not excusing Verizon, but have a little sense of scale when calculating your personal risk here.

    But to humor the concept of other installers violating peoples homes, here we are now.

  25. kevincw01 says:

    @TEREKKINCAID you don’t have to mount that box inside the house if you put it a waterproof case outside. The installer offered this to me as an option and I jumped on it. I ran to home depot and bought one and he helped me install it. I had power near by for sprinkler timer so it worked out well.

  26. willyjim says:

    Maybe verizon had their support reps calculate the damages based on fractions of a cent.

  27. radink says:

    How is the installer not dead from drilling through an electrical line?

  28. brundlefly76 says:

    If you they have homeowners insurance (which they should), the insurance company should be more than happy to sue Verizon for them.

  29. Murph1908 says:

    I can see the logic in that.

    But there is illogic in it as well. By that statement, anybody that has a critical device destroyed by someone else, for whatever reason, should have their ENTIRE claim approved for the full amount without question. Otherwise, they are delaying or low -balling unethically.

    I do think Verizon is low balling them, and agree with the victim in this case. What I object to is the poor ‘journalism’.

    This story, and your comment, does give me the idea for some logical legislation. In cases like this, accepting the first offer from the defendant should NOT prohibit future litigation. If that were the law, the victim here could take the offer, replace necessary items, and continue to seek full compensation.

  30. Murph1908 says:

    It’s the Intelligencer’s journalistic skills that I am calling into question, not Consumerist’s.

  31. 113COP says:

    FIOS Customer Service to Homeowner: OK, so we have you scheduled for incineration, I mean installation next Thursday. Is that good for you?