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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.

Utah Captain Sues For Gender and Disability Discrimination

A Utah fire captain who was terminated after she was unable to take a physical abilities test for medical reasons, has filed suit in federal court alleging both gender and disability discrimination. Captain Dawnya Halliday claims that a physical abilities test adopted by the Saratoga Springs Fire Department in 2012 unlawfully discriminates against women.

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Des Moines Fire Chief Under Attack

Chiefs under attack. Its an ongoing phenomenon in the fire service, usually rationalized by firefighters based upon on local specifics that go something like this: “Our chief is an imbecile (or insert your own term of endearment…. I’ll use imbecile). He did…..and….. and …. and ….. . Only a special kind of imbecile would do… and… and …. and …..”

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Illinois Firefighter Suspended After Making Sexual Harassment Complaint

An Illinois firefighter who filed additional sexual harassment allegations against her department last week, has been suspended. Country Club Hills firefighter Dena Lewis-Bystrzycki was suspended last week, allegedly after she spoke with reporters about the updated pleadings she filed in an ongoing sexual harassment suit against the city.

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Texas Chief Sues for Wrongful Termination and Defamation

A Texas fire chief who was terminated for allegedly overspending his budget, has filed suit alleging wrongful termination and defamation. Fire Chief Landon Smith was terminated earlier this month by the City of Van Alstyne because he allegedly overspent the fire department's budget by $180,000.

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Too Many Fire Law Headlines

It is one of those days at Fire Law, where there are simply too many headlines to follow them all. So take your pick. Will it be the Everett, Washington firefighters that drove a drunk homeless man out of town and left him, or the Hartford lieutenant who assaulted a captain at a fire scene apparently because the captain disrespected him, or the Oregon firefighter who is charged with sexually assaulting a colleague while training last year in Texas, or whether CalFire is obligated to pay the PSOBP benefits to contract firefighter-pilots killed in air-tanker crashes.

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CA Supreme Court Rules Officer’s Personal Notes NOT Subject to Personnel File Disclosure

The Supreme Court of California has handed down an important decision interpreting the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights Act in regards to a firefighter’s right to know about negative comments entered into his personnel file. The case was brought by an Orange County firefighter who claimed that his captain had been keeping daily notes his performance in violation of a provision in the FPBOR Act.

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Post Accident Drug Testing in the Headlines

Today’s burning question: After an apparatus accident last week and I was sent for routine drug/alcohol testing. The local newspaper wrote an article about the accident naming me as the driver and indicating that I was sent for drug testing. The way it was written implied I was sent because I did something wrong.

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Edison IAFF Local 1197 Sued By Member for Race Discrimination

A black firefighter in Edison, New Jersey is suing his union for race discrimination over a grievance filed on behalf of two white firefighters that adversely affected him. Anthoney Robinson, claims that his hire date was changed without his knowledge as a result of a grievance filed by Edison Firefighters, IAFF Local 1197. The union claims the hire date was properly adjusted because Robinson was laid off soon after being hired in June, 2005.

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35 Cleveland Firefighters Disciplined Over Secondary Employment Violations

Thirty-five Cleveland firefighters are being disciplined for working in violation of the department’s secondary employment policy. The discipline follows an investigation prompted by a local TV Station, WOIO-TV Channel 19, that proclaimed “some Cleveland firefighters [were] violating the policy on part-time work, putting themselves and citizens at risk.”

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Virginia Firefighters Claim City Failed to Pay EMS Incentive

Eleven current and former firefighters from Winchester, Virginia have filed suit against the city and former Fire Chief Frank Wright claiming they were wrongfully denied thousands of dollars in incentive pay dating back to 2006. The lawsuit filed last Friday in Winchester Circuit Court is listed as a breach of contract action in the court file.

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