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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.

Burning Question on the Use of Older SCBA

Today’s burning question: Given the newer NFPA/OSHA standards for our SCBAs, there's a glut of the older 'non-compliant' SCBAs for sale, Can they be used without liability issues? Answer: Asking the dreaded “liability” question virtually guarantees the answer that an attorney will give: no, they cannot be used without liability issues! Could a person give a starving man food without liability issues? Of course not!!!!

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Ohio Firefighters Disciplined Over Christmas Photo

Seventeen Lancaster, Ohio firefighters – one entire shift - have been disciplined over a Christmas themed photo they posed for last fall that was later placed on a billboard. The firefighters were assigned to Crew 3, one of Lancaster’s three shifts.

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Louisiana Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Firefighters in Pension Battle

Firefighters in Kenner, Louisiana have prevailed at the state Supreme Court on whether certain types of compensation should be included in their pension compensation. The suit was filed in 2010 by Michael Dunn as a class action. The complaint was later amended eliminating the class action, adding individual named firefighters as plaintiffs and positioning IAFF Local 1427 as representing the interests of its members.

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Brookline Firefighter’s Discrimination Suit Joined By Others

A Massachusetts firefighter who is suing his fire department and union for race discrimination, has been joined by two police officers and five other town employees who also allege race discrimination. Gerald Alston filed suit against the Town of Brookline, the Board of Selectmen, IAFF Local 950, and several others claiming race discrimination.

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Oregon Chief Claims He Was Fired Over Wife’s Social Media Postings

Today’s burning question: Can I be fired from my job as a fire chief because my wife criticizes my bosses on social media? Answer: Chances are your bosses will find another reason to fire you if they were upset about your wife’s social media activities. That is what former Cannon Beach Fire Chief Mike Balzer claims happened to him.

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Illinois Abandons Public Duty Doctrine in Fire Department Case

In a split decision in a case involving a fire department, the Illinois Supreme court has taken the drastic step of abolishing the public duty doctrine in Illinois. The case involved a 911 call for a medical emergency that, for a variety of Murphy’s Law-type reasons, resulted in a 41-minute delay in accessing the patient

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Fire Academy Threatened With Suit Over Groundwater Pollution from AFFF

The Barnstable County Fire Academy on Cape Cod is facing an environmental lawsuit and possible shut down over ground water pollution attributed to the use of AFFF over the years. According to local officials, two wells that provide drinking water to several area communities had to be closed last spring due to elevated levels perfluorooctane sulfonate. The wells are adjacent to the academy.

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