Oklahoma Firefighter Suspended for Violating Rule Despite Saving Two Homes

Here is a story we missed a month ago when it broke – a firefighter in Green Country, Oklahoma has been disciplined for violating a rule even though his decision resulted in saving two homes in the path of a destructive wildland fire.

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.
  • Dalmatian90

    I’m still fleshing out the full argument in my mind, but this is yet another example of the conflict not only in the fire service but our larger society between “industrial” and “pastoral” economics — and industrial dominates our legal system.

    “Industrial” is transactionally oriented, with a presumption that any unit can be substituted by any other unit. It’s set of ethics is extremely minimal — the sole ethical standard is whether you turn the maximum profit. So you end up with extensive regulations trying to reel in the excesses to protect people, the environment, other investors, etc.

    “Pastoral” is relationship based. It’s neighbor-helping-neighbor and where you see a conflict arise between regulations aimed at industrial employers. Rather then emphasizing working harder (and under industrial economics external inputs of chemicals and machinery can be substituted for labor, after all it’s interchangeable), there’s an emphasis on working smarter — knowing your craft, your people, your situation. It’s concerned with the long term sustainability of resources. There’s a deep social tradition here — the heroes of the Bible are almost always shepherds.

    A lot of the conflict we find over regulations are situations like this — when industrial oriented, transactional based (what? don’t have a trained firefighter? find one.) regulations conflict directly with pastoral “do the right thing” beliefs.

    • Dalmation90

      Very interesting – and thought provoking – perspective.

  • RJ

    when i was a rookie, a veteran firefighter told me “show me a hero and i’ll show you a guy that broke 10 regs to do it”

    this seems like a political case because nothing happened but you have to wonder what would be said if he just let it burn

  • ukfbbuff

    My 2 cents from Calif..

    Well, you have the “Rule” that was broken, but at the same time, property was saved and no one got hurt, in what probably a limited visibility, high heat and smoke condition.

    Seems that the light flashy fuels and wind speed contributed to “Fire Whirls” and or “Sheet Fire” ( that’s where the wind bends what would be an upright flame front, lower to the ground covering a larger area) conditions, so acting fast is necessary.

    It’s either “Stay and Defend” or “Load and Go” and write off the structure.

    The Rule was written for a reason, but if the Vol. FF has completed the minimum number of hours of training, then I don’t think there is reason for the City to complain.

    After all, in such decisions,the Rule writer
    isn’t there nor are the City Politician’s.

    I hope the Fire Captain wins his appeal.


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