Another DC Demotion and the Allegations Are Flying

Things are heating up again in DC, this time over the demotion of an outspoken lieutenant who has been critical of Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe.

Lt. Robert Alvarado was demoted this week over a television interview he did with WTTG-TV last January. Dave Statter is all over this one so I won’t recite the details here. The legal questions that the case raises are many and complicated:

  • Does Lt. Alvarado have a 1st Amendment claim against Chief Ellerbe and DCFD… ok… DCFEMS … for retaliation?
  • Did Lt. Alvarado have a legal duty to stop the film crew from covering the EMS incident?
  • Was there really a HIPAA violation (or perhaps a violation of a DC medical confidentiality statute)?
  • Would he have violated the 1st Amendment if he tried to stop the TV crew from filming?
  • Has the entire disciplinary process in DCFD … I mean DCFEMS … become so corrupted by virtue of Chief Ellerbe’s punishment of hearing officers, that Lt. Alvarado has a due process claim over the lack of an impartial fact-finder?

It is like a fire law smorgasbord of issues…

The ACLU has now entered the fray… Let’s get started with this video:

DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG

Update: Here is a copy of the DC Fire & EMS Patient Bill of Rights  FEMS Patient Bill of Rights updated 3-29-11

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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