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.

St. Louis Settles Promotion Discrimination Suit

A lawsuit filed by 140 black St. Louis firefighters challenging the promotional test for captain and battalion chief has been settled with a comprehensive agreement to overhaul the promotional process. The suit was filed in state court by the 140 named firefighters and the Firefighters Institute for Racial Equality alleging that the 2013 promotional process was racially discriminatory.

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Connecticut Fire Chief On Leave Over Racial Insensitivity

The fire chief of the New Britain Fire Department has been placed on leave following an investigation report that concluded the department’s sagging morale was in part attributable to his racial insensitivity. Mayor Erin Stewart placed Fire Chief Thomas Ronalter on leave effective tomorrow.

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Chiefs, Overtime and Extra Compensation

Today’s burning question: We are losing senior instructors from our fire academy because they are being promoted to Battalion Chiefs (or higher), at which point we cannot compensate them to teach on their days off… not even straight time. I am told this is because they are exempt under the FLSA but cannot find any legal clarification that explains what is going on. Why can’t we at least pay these officers straight time to come back and teach on their days off?

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Deleting Derogatory Facebook Postings

Today’s burning question: Can I block someone from posting on our FD Facebook page, or at least hide the comments from public view, because they have been posting derogatory comments ? Answer: yes and no. Government cannot censor members of the public. Government censorship violates the 1st Amendment.

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DC Firefighter Assaulted At Scene Accused Of Being Impaired

A DC firefighter who was assaulted by several people at the scene of an emergency involving an injured child, is now being investigated for being under the influence. The incident occurred yesterday when firefighters responded to a 3-year old injured in a fall, but the child’s parents refused to allow a firefighter to treat the child because he appeared to be impaired.

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Washington Fire Department Settles Fatal Accident Suit

The North Kitsap Fire & Rescue has agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit arising out of a 2014 accident between an engine and a motor scooter. Jason Foster was killed on July 4, 2014 following a collision between his motor scooter and an engine. Foster’s family filed suit against NKFR.

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DCFEMS Dismissed from L’Enfant Plaza Suit

A US District Court judge today dismissed the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department from the mass tort suit involving the L’Enfant Plaza smoke incident. The incident occurred in 2015 when an electrical problem caused power cables to begin emitting large quantities of smoke inside a metro tunnel.

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Noose in Class Prompts Firing and Resignations in Florida

Four Pompano Beach fire recruits are off the job following an investigation into a noose found draped over the seat of the academy’s only black recruit. The incident occurred at the Pompano Beach Fire Training Center on the recruits' last day of training, June 7, 2017, but was not immediately reported.

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Florida Firefighters Suing For Hearing Loss

Twenty-three firefighters from Palm Beach County Fire Department, Boca Raton Fire Department and West Palm Beach Fire Department have filed suit against Federal Signal Corporation seeking $3.45 million in damages for hearing loss associated with siren noise.

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15 Sicilian Firefighters Charged With Arson

Fifteen volunteer firefighters in Sicily have been arrested on arson charges. The firefighters from the town of Ragusa are also accused of calling in false alarms. The fires and the false alarms appear to be associated with a scheme to increase their stipends that were tied to responses.

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Twice Fired New Mexico Firefighter Sues County

A former Albuquerque firefighter who was fired for hanging up on a frantic 911 caller in 2015 because the caller swore at him, is filing suit against the Bernalillo County Fire Department who hired and then abruptly fired him. Matthew Sanchez was fired by the Albuquerque Fire Department shortly after the shooting death of 17 year-old Jaydon Chavez-Silver.

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Florida Selfie War Paramedics Facing Jail Time

The two Florida paramedics who engaged in a “self-war” by posing with patients may be headed to jail. Kayla Dubois and Christopher Wimmer used their personal devices to take selfies of themselves posing with 41 patients who were sedated, unconscious and in some cases intubated

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7th Circuit Rules on Compensation for Off-Duty Use Of Smartphones

In a long awaited decision the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Chicago in a case where police officers sought compensation for the off-duty use of their smartphones. Sergeant Jeffery Allen claimed he and his fellow officers in the Bureau of Organized Crime were required to use their smartphones to communicate while off-duty, but were not compensated for their time.

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Michigan FD Sued Over Fatal Crash

The driver of a vehicle that struck a fire truck parked at the scene of a rollover crash on I-94 earlier this year is suing the fire department and the apparatus’ driver claiming "Neither the lights nor sirens of the fire truck were activated" at the time of the accident.

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