Podcast 21: Prince George’s County Fireground Altercation Case – The Lawyer’s Edition

In this episode, Curt and attorney Brian Bregman discuss the complicated legal issues associated with disciplinary investigations where the accused firefighters are potentially subject to criminal liability – and may have a 5th Amendment Right to remain silent.

Brian represented one of two Prince George’s County volunteer firefighters who were recently acquitted of assaulting two female career firefighters at the scene of a structure fire in 2015. We discussed the facts of the case last week in Podcast 20.

In this session we go beyond the facts to consider the complex legal issues that arose, including the accused firefighter’s Garrity Rights. Can volunteer firefighters be compelled to answer questions, thereby giving up their 5th Amendment Right to remain silent? If they refuse to answer questions can they be disciplined for insubordination? The question also arose as to whether the county or the members’ volunteer fire company was legally able to compel the answers under threat of termination.

As discussed during the podcast, here is a link to the Blunier case.

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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