Headlines versus Reality: NY Court Bans Fire Apparatus Older than 10 years – OMG

The sensational headline seems to say it all, causing many Fire Law readers to forward the story to me asking the same question: How can a judge do that? Who does she think she is? Will this apply to us in New Jersey? Has she lost her mind?

The truth is actually quite boring and hardly newsworthy: Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Kathryn Freed ruled that if a firefighters’ union has an agreement with the city in which the city AGREES to not use apparatus older than 10 years old, and an arbitrator concludes that the provision is valid and should be enforced – THEN THE CITY HAS TO ABIDE BY ITS AGREEMENT.

So in other words, instead of sensational headlines like “The ‘rig’ is up for Bravest: Judge orders 10-yr.-old firetrucks out of fleet” it should have read: “Judge Orders City to Abide By Its Agreement.” Or perhaps even more mundane: “Judge affirms arbitrator”.

Not too much of a story there… is there….

And seriously – someone is actually disputing the following quote: “responding to any emergency with faulty equipment is decidedly a more dangerous proposition.”

Move along… no story here…


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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