Kentucky Fire Department Sues Fire District

An embattled Kentucky fire department is in the news again, this time because it is suing its fire district because the district voided its service agreement and solicited bids for a new provider.

The Southeast Bullitt Fire and Rescue Department has filed suit against the Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District claiming the district improperly voided a contract with the department to provide emergency services. The suit seeks an injunction to prevent the district from accepting bids from other providers and in essence “maintain the status quo”.

Problems for the fire department go back to September, 2014 when the fire chief, Julius Hatfield, was caught on a sheriff’s bodycam video at an accident scene refusing to assist a black motorist saying “We ain’t taking no n—— here.” Things went downhill quickly for the fire chief and the department with investigations by the sheriff’s office, the state auditor, the state fire board and even the FBI. Chief Hatfield resigned from the fire district board after a contentious on-air argument with a local reporter, Valerie Chinn of WDRB, where the chief asked her “Do you understand English darling?… Do you understand English?”

Chief Hatfield is current suspended as the investigations play themselves out. He has not been charged with any crimes,

More on the story.

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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