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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.

California Apparatus Collision Results in $15 Million Settlement

A 53-year-old California man who was severely injured when two fire trucks collided as he was waiting to cross the street, has agreed to settle his claims for $15 million. Kenneth Thai was waiting to cross the street on April 16, 2014 when a ladder truck from the Alhambra Fire Department collided with an engine from the Monterey Park Fire Department, causing the engine to strike Thai and continue into a restaurant.

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Indiana Sues Former Chief To Recover Missing Funds

The state of Indiana filed suit today against a former fire chief who is accused of embezzling nearly $60,000. Indiana attorney general Greg Zoeller’s office filed suit against former Speedway fire chief Mark Watson seeking to recover the taxpayers' money.

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Michigan Chief Sues for Wrongful Termination

A Michigan fire chief who was wrongly accused of criminal misconduct and terminated, has filed suit against a township alleging defamation, malicious prosecution, and retaliation for testifying in an earlier case. Marquette Township fire chief Bob Sims was suspended last December and terminated in February, 2015.

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Albuquerque Fire Investigating Why Dispatcher Hung Up on Caller

The Albuquerque Fire Department is investigating a firefighter who allegedly hung-up on a frantic 911 caller because the caller swore at him while CPR instructions were being given. Albuquerque firefighter Matthew Sanchez was working in the dispatch center when a caller reported that Jaydon Chavez-Silver, a 17 year old high school student, had been shot.

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Cal Fire Sues Property Owner To Recoup $25 Million in Costs

Cal Fire is suing a property owner and two caretakers in hopes of recouping over $25 million in costs associated with fighting the Mountain Fire back in July, 2013. The fire burned over 27,000 acres, destroyed 23 structures, and required 260 engines, 20 helicopters, 12 fix wing aircraft, and 3500 firefighters before being brought under control.

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Volunteer Firefighter’s Right To Due Process

Today’s Burning Question: If a volunteer firefighter is dismissed from a department without the governing board following it’s rules on dismissal which includes formal charges and a hearing, can the volunteer file a 1983 claim against the board? Is this a due process violation?

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Dallas Firefighter is the Latest Facebook Cyber-Casualty

A Dallas firefighter is under investigation following complaints about a Facebook post he made last Sunday. According to news reports, firefighter Chad Tyson was responding to a posting about the stabbing of two San Diego firefighters by a black man who is now on trial when he posted: "Sadly, I will delay treatment for more of them as well."

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Wrongful Death Suit filed in Detroit Failure To Act Case

The refusal of a Detroit EMT to respond to a home where an infant was not breathing has led to a wrongful death suit by the infant's mother. On May 30, 2015 EMT Ann Marie Thomas parked her unit on a street corner away from the scene while waiting for other units to arrive, an act her supervisors referred to as “depraved indifference”.

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NYC Firefighters Sue Over Public Records Violations

The president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association of New York, IAFF Local 94 has filed suit against the City of New York and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito using the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to publically allege that she has been “stone-walling” consideration of a pension related resolution.

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Fire Law Podcast – Duty to Act, A Real Life Story

In this episode, Curt explores the connection between the law relating to duty to act and real life in a discussion with Fire Commissioner Dave Phillips, of the Washingtonville Fire District, in New York State. Commissioner Phillips suffered a heart attack and was brought back to life thorough the valiant efforts of his son, an FDNY firefighter, and a local EMS unit.

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Ohio Man Arrested for Filming Accident Scene

An Ohio man is facing criminal trespass charges after he filmed close-up images of the aftermath of a fatal motor vehicle accident, including footage he took inside the vehicle showing the victims. Paul Pelton, 41, is facing one count of trespass of a vehicle, a misdemeanor. News reports indicate that he posted the video on Facebook and sought to sell it to news outlets.

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Las Vegas Fire Facing Two Federal Court Wrongful Death Suits Over EMS Response

Las Vegas Fire & Rescue is facing two federal lawsuits alleging the city’s EMS dispatch policy was responsible for the deaths of two victims in 2014. The suits were brought on behalf of John Benjamin Kraai and Brandon Charles Pickford and allege substantially the same thing: the failure to dispatch American Medical Response (AMR) units in both instances led to their deaths.

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Three Federal Court Settlements in the Fire law News

There are three federal court settlements in the fire law news today. The first is the settlement of a lawsuit filed by an Ohio firefighter who lost an eye in 2008 in a fireworks accident. Despite being cleared to return to work by his doctor, Stow firefighter Anthony Rorrer was determined to be unfit for duty. He sued claiming unlawful discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

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