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.

Idaho Firefighter Settles Wrongful Termination Suit

An Idaho firefighter who alleged that he was terminated for reporting the fire chief for driving a fire department vehicle while impaired, has agreed to settle his wrongful termination suit for $26,000. Captain Brent Blamires was fired by the Rock Creek Fire District in 2015, shortly after he reported Fire Chief Jason Keller for driving while under the influence.

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FDNY Sued for $3 Million By Disabled Firefighter

An FDNY firefighter who was hurt off-duty, reinjured a year later on the job, then arrested, denied a disability pension, and terminated, is suing the city and FDNY for $3 million for violating his civil rights. Daniel Braun filed suit last month alleging that his 4th and 14th Amendment rights were violated.

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Why Volunteers Need to Understand The FLSA

Today’s burning question: Do volunteer fire departments have to worry about the FLSA? Answer: The FLSA has the potential to impact a wide range of fire departments in the United States. That includes many if not most volunteer departments.

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Settlement Announced in Oregon Wrongful Termination Suit

An Oregon fire chief who filed a wrongful termination suit has agreed to accept a $55,000 settlement. Chief Mike Balzer claims he was terminated by Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District because his wife posted comments on social media that were critical of the district’s board.

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Rope Rescue, NFPA Compliance and Liability

Today’s burning question: Are there any cases where a fire department has been held liable because personnel used rope rescue hardware that was appropriate for the task, but did not meet NFPA 1983? Answer: Great question - I have not seen a single case where a fire department was sued (let alone held liable) because they used non-NFPA compliant tech rescue hardware. However, safety concerns should not be driven solely by liability concerns.

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Kansas Firefighter Sues for Sexual Harassment

A Kansas firefighter who claims she endured years of sexual harassment at the hands of her colleagues and retaliation by supervisors after she complained, has filed suit in federal court. Elizabeth Hinton filed suit last week against the City of Olathe, accusing colleagues of "mooing" outside her door while she pumped breastmilk.

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California Firefighters File Overtime Suit Over Health Care Buy-Back

Today’s burning question: Does a fire department have to include payments made in lieu of accepting health benefits in a firefighter’s regular rate for purposes of calculating overtime? Answer: Yes, and that is one of the central issues in an FLSA suit that firefighters with the Marinwood Community Services District filed claiming the district has been improperly calculating their overtime.

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Liability and Bail-Out Systems

Today’s burning question: We recently purchased harnesses and bailout kits for all of our members. What is the best way to word the SOG to protect the department liability-wise in the event members refuse to wear the kit? Answer: Great question. First of all, you really have two separate questions and despite your concerns about liability, neither of them are liability questions.

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2016 FLSA Roundup

Throughout 2016, the Fair Labor Standards Act continued to loom as one of the most important laws for fire departments. Here are the top 2016 FLSA for Fire Departments headlines, in rank order of importance:

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