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About Fire Law

Welcome to Fire Law

Curt Varone

Curt Varone

There has always been an inescapable connection in my mind between the fire service and law. Perhaps its because firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, and fire departments are engaged in a dangerous business where people are killed and injured, and property is damaged and destroyed. Like a doctor in a high-risk specialty, anyone who engages in a profession where lives hang in the balance can become the target of a law suit by those who are unhappy with the outcome.

Perhaps it’s the fact that fire departments are created and governed by laws. Laws give firefighters the authority to drive fire apparatus on the road with red lights and sirens, to enter into peoples’ homes and businesses, and to deliver emergency medical care. Many fire departments are responsible for enforcing laws, such as fire codes. Fire departments are also subject to a variety of laws, such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, the Fair Labor Standards Act, HIPAA, HAZWOPPER, and Right-to-Know laws.

Perhaps it is the fact that cases involving firefighters and fire departments have helped to shape the legal landscape of our country, including cases on constitutional law, employment discrimination, overtime compensation, drug testing, and a host of other important topics.

What ever the cause – the connection is evident when you look at the cases: the Welanski case that arose out of the Coconut Grove fire, the Grogan case that arose out of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, the New York Times v. FDNY case that arose out of the World Trade Center attack on 9/11, and countless others make the connection between fire and law in a way that no amount of my explaining can do.

It is my sincerest hope that this blog will provide the opportunity for you to learn about the connection between fire and law – and in turn we can share information on the emerging legal issues that confront the fire service.

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  • Mark

    Camden County, Georgia is considering staffing their rigs with inmates. I am curious what your thoughts are. Does staffing a structural response rig with inmates change a homeowners right (or lack) to “AMA” a fire response? Does the liability for the county change if they staff with inmates? On medical responses does a reasonable expectation of competency and ability (i.e. training and certification) exist (or any response for that matter)? Does any case law address using a mixed crew of medically trained/untrained personnel?

    • Allen

      You’ve GOT to be kidding!? Inmates?! That is an absolutely HORRIBLE idea. Men and women spend YEARS training intellectually and physically just to compete with hundreds of other candidates for just one prized firefighter position and you want to give it to someone who committed a crime!? That’s one of the things that gets you ELIMINATED from a hiring process.

  • Hector

    very interesting

  • http://www.farringdon-law.co.uk/index.php/billryan Bill Ryan MIFireE Barrister

    I am really pleased to have come across this blog.

    I have something in common with the author as I was a fire officer in London UK and am now a barrister mainly working in criminal law including breaches of fire regulations and related health & safety matters.

    As for prison inmates working as fire fighters – that is such a bad idea.

  • Bill

    Incredible in this day and age that a politician would promote such an absurd idea. He should be called to account for this by the citizens he is empowered to protect.

  • Jay

    Curt,

    Have you run across any good cases involving breast feeding with regard to the fire/ems?  Thanks

  • ken

    Can a convicted felon (conviction was
    years ago) hold the position of firechief at a volunteer fire department?