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German architect sentenced in LA firefighter's death

A German architect pleaded no contest Friday to involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 death of a Los Angeles firefighter.
January 3, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
A German architect pleaded no contest Friday to involuntary manslaughter in the 2011 death of a Los Angeles firefighter. Gerhard Albert Becker, 49, was immediately sentenced to three years' probation and a year in county jail.

Glenn Allen, 61, was killed when firefighters responded to a house fire in the Hollywood Hills on February 16, 2011. The 36-year firefighting veteran was killed when a burning ceiling fell on him inside the house.

Becker, a German national, designed and built the house and installed a fireplace for outdoor use inside a living room, which was the source of the fire. The fireplace was a violation of building codes.

Superior Court Judge Robert Perry said Building and Safety inspectors should have discovered problems in the construction before occupation of the house, located on the 1500 block of Viewsite Drive.

Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney opposed the low sentence, saying Becker was at fault. He said Becker willfully ignored building codes and the fireplace manufacturer's warnings not to install an outdoor fireplace inside the home.

Carney also said Becker would be deported to Germany after his jail sentence, so monitoring his probation would be impossible.

When fire crews responded to the 12,500-square foot mansion in 2011, they didn't realize flames on the roof had melted a sprinkler system, filling it up with water. Authorities said the ceiling of the mansion collapsed on Allen and five other firefighters.

Allen was rushed to a hospital, but he died from his injuries two days later. Allen was the first LAFD firefighter to be killed in the line of duty since March 2008.


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