Author Archives: 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.

Overtime, Vacation Credit, and the FLSA

Today’s burning question: My fire department if we work overtime during a work period during which we take vacation, rather than pay overtime for the extra hours worked, they credit back vacation time. Our HR and Fire Chief claim it is against the law (FLSA) to be paid overtime and receive vacation hours in the same time work period. Is this true?

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Atlanta Settles With Chief Cochran for $1.2 Million

The City of Atlanta has agreed to settle a wrongful termination and religious discrimination lawsuit brought by former Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran. Chief Cochran was fired by Mayor Kasim Reed in 2015 over a self-published book the chief authored about his religious beliefs. Reed believed the book was critical of homosexuality.

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NJ Fire Chief Demoted After Filing Suit

A New Jersey fire chief who sued his bosses earlier this year, has been demoted. Plainfield Fire Chief Frank Tidwell filed suit claiming city officials were conspiring to force him into retirement. Last Friday, the city released a statement that he was being demoted...

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Judge Dismisses Suit Over Kentucky Firefighter Who Shot Prisoner

A lawsuit that accused a Kentucky firefighter of wrongfully shooting and killing a prisoner while the man was struggling for control of a police officer’s weapon, has been dismissed. Ali Sawaf, the father of Mark S. Sawaf, filed suit last year claiming that Lexington Fire Captain Brad Dobrzynski was wrong for shooting his son on August 11, 2016

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Retired BC Sues Charlotte Alleging Race Discrimination

A veteran Charlotte battalion chief who recently took a job in another community as fire chief, has filed suit against the City of Charlotte claiming he was the victim of race discrimination. Chief Willie Summers, a 30 year veteran who recently was appointed as the fire chief in Asheboro, claims he was passed over for promotion because he was black.

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Twenty Illinois Fire Departments Sued for Wrongful Death

The family of a man who died in a fire last year has filed suit against twenty Illinois fire departments and two chief officers claiming they failed to effect his rescue. Aric Evan Tashjian McClure died on August 4, 2017 in a fire that trapped him in a second floor apartment.

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Oregon Chief Awarded $500k for Wrongful Termination

An Oregon fire chief who was terminated in 2013 after refusing to unilaterally reduce staffing was awarded $500,000 in damages last week. Fire Chief James Wenzel brought the lawsuit claiming that Klamath County Fire District No. 1 breached his employment contract and retaliated against him.

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Fatal Fire Prompts Suit Against Illinois Fire Department

A volunteer fire department in Illinois is being sued over a fatal fire where firefighters were allegedly slow to respond and the department did not request mutual aid from a career fire department that was actually closer to the scene. The Village of Bartonsville is being sued by the estate of a four-year-old child who died in a house fire on July 17, 2018.

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Fine Against Washington Fire Department For Understaffing Upheld

An OSHA fine against a Washington state fire department for understaffing has been upheld by the state’s Department of Labor and Industries. The Camas-Washougal Fire Department was cited for violating OSHA’s two-in two-out requirement at a house fire last March. The first arriving engine was staffed with two firefighters.

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Dayton Sues Foam Manufacturers Over AFFF Related Contamination

The City of Dayton is the latest community to file suit against the nation’s largest firefighting foam manufacturers, blaming them for the contamination of the area surrounding Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The contamination is due to two toxic byproducts of AFFF, namely perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid.

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US Supreme Court Considering Fire Service Case

In my world it is a special day when a fire service case reaches the US Supreme Court. Yesterday, oral arguments were heard in Mount Lemmon Fire District v. Guido, an age discrimination case out of Arizona. John Guido and Dennis Rankin were full-time captains, and the two oldest full-time employees at the Fire District when they were terminated in 2009

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Ohio Chief Sues Bosses for $1 Million

An Ohio fire chief has filed a $1 million suit against his employer and his bosses alleging breach of contract, age discrimination and disability discrimination. Bucyrus Fire Chief Jay W. Keller filed suit last week naming the City of Bucyrus, Mayor Jeffrey Reser, and Safety-Service Director Jeffrey Wagner as defendants.

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