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.

Trenton Fire Hit for $500K in Retaliation Suit

Former Trenton firefighter Jesse Diaz has been awarded $500,000 in his retaliation lawsuit against the city and several fire officers. Dias alleges that after he reported a white firefighter for using the N-word he became the target of several ranking officers.

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Minneapolis Captain Files Sexual Harassment Suit

A Minneapolis fire captain has filed suit against the department alleging she is the victim of sexual harassment and retaliation. Vicki Jung alleges that after she reported a fellow fire captain, Tom Fellegy, for sexual misconduct and harassment in 2014, she was retaliated against.

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Former Tennessee Firefighter Sues Under FLSA

A Tennessee firefighter who resigned earlier this month has filed a class action lawsuit under the FLSA claiming he and his colleagues were being improperly compensated. Seth Stafford filed suit against the City of Mt. Juliet last week alleging the city “failed to pay its employee firefighters for all time worked, including failing to pay such employees the overtime wages they are owed under the law.”

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First it Was Backdraft, Now It’s the Lights And Siren Club

The San Francisco Fire Department has been in the headlines quite a bit lately, with allegations of sexual harassment leading to the transfer of 10 officers, the reported theft of fire department equipment by a firefighter, and two members accused of sexual misconduct in a moving ambulance.

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Separate Fire Station Facilities For Men and Women

Today’s burning question: Do we have to provide separate sleeping quarters and bathroom facilities for male and female employees? Answer: While there are no requirements that fire departments provide separate facilities for men and women, providing separate facilities is a wise move that can head off a host of headaches down the road.

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San Francisco Fire Addresses Harassment Allegations

The San Francisco Fire Department is transferring ten officers including four battalion chiefs in the aftermath of a six-month sexual harassment investigation at Station 2. The investigation follows harassment allegations that included a complaint that someone had urinated on a female firefighter’s bed and smeared feces in her locker.

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Family of Deceased Firefighter Sues Homeowner for Wrongful Death

The family of a firefighter who was killed at a house fire last year in Woodstock, New York, has filed suit against the owner of the house alleging negligence and wrongful death. Jack Rose, 19, a volunteer firefighter with the Mount Marion Fire Department, died on December 19, 2015, at chimney fire in Woodstock. Rose had recently been elected captain.

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Boilerplate Language In Policies

Today’s burning question: Many of our policies have a boilerplate statement saying that “company officers shall enforce this policy” and the “failure to follow this policy will result in disciplinary action.” Is this language really necessary? Answer: While there is nothing inherently wrong with such language… I am not a fan of it. It implies that your members are not inclined to follow the rules unless threatened…

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Part-Time Firefighter Overtime

Today’s burning question: Does a fire department have to pay overtime to a part-time firefighter who works more than 212 hours in a 28-day period? Answer: Yes. The FLSA does not distinguish between full-time and part-time employees. Any non-exempt employee ...

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Houston Loses Battle to Unilaterally Restructure Firefighter Pensions

A Texas appellate court has denied the appeal of the City of Houston in its efforts to unilaterally restructure its firefighter pension system to save money. The city sued the Houston Firefighters' Relief & Retirement Fund in 2014 claiming that pension costs were driving it toward bankruptcy seeking a declaratory judgment that the pension arrangement was unconstitutional.

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