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.

Wichita Settles Fire Investigators’ FLSA Claims for $155k

The city of Wichita has reached a settlement with six fire investigators who filed suit late last year claiming they were being improperly required to work 204 hours per 27-day work period before being eligible for overtime. The six investigators will split $140,000 while their attorneys will receive $15,000.

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Compensation For Work While On Vacation

Today’s burning question: We are combination department in which our full-time firefighters are permitted to respond back to alarms. We pay them their overtime rate for the extra time they work. Is it permissible under the FLSA to pay the firefighter overtime for returning to an alarm while we are paying him to be on vacation (ie. twice for the same time)?

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Ohio Chief Appeals Dismissal

An Ohio fire chief who was fired two weeks ago has filed suit to appeal his termination. Fire Chief Porter “Chip” Welch filed suit today asking the Pickaway County Common Pleas Court to reverse his removal from the Scioto Township Fire Department. Chief Welch was terminated by the township’s trustees on August 16, 2018.

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Arkansas Firefighter Loses Substitution-Related FMLA Claim

A federal judge in Arkansas has ruled that a change to a fire department’s policy on substitutions did not violate the FMLA, nor constitute retaliation against a firefighter who prompted the change. Eric Andersen filed suit last February against the Springdale Fire Department and three chief officers.

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Ohio Firefighter Awarded $3.35 Million for Sexual Harassment

A former Ohio firefighter who claimed she has been subjected to years of harassment and discrimination has been awarded $3.35 million in damages by a federal jury. Amie Morningstar accused the Circleville Fire & EMS Department, the City of Circleville, and Fire Chief Marc Zingarelli of sexual harassment, gender discrimination, equal pay violations, retaliation...

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Burning Question: Wilmington LODD Suit, Civil Rights Violation, and Deliberate Indifference

Today’s burning question: I saw your article on the Wilmington LODD lawsuit and do not understand why the families of the deceased firefighters would bother suing the city for a civil rights violation. Answer: Civil rights suits are viewed by some attorneys as a strategic “end around” the tort defenses that fire departments would typically raise in cases like this. Whether the strategy will actually work is another story.

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Oakland Dismissed from San Pablo Avenue Fire Suit

An Alameda County Superior Court judge has dismissed the City of Oakland from a lawsuit over the deaths of four people in fire at a halfway house last year. Judge Brad Seligman ruled that the state’s immunity laws shielded the city from liability despite criticism that fire inspectors did “too little too late”.

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Anaheim Firefighter Claims Gender and Ethnicity Discrimination

A firefighter who was let go prior to the end of her probationary period with the Anaheim Fire Department has filed suit claiming she was the victim of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, retaliation, and discrimination on account of her Mexican ancestry. Anna Araujo filed suit earlier this month in Orange County Superior Court.

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Wilmington Brownout LODD Suit Filed

The long-awaited suit brought by three seriously injured Wilmington, Delaware firefighters along with the families of three firefighters who died in a building fire in 2016 was filed today in US District Court for the District of Delaware. The fire on September 24, 2016 claimed the lives of Lieutenant Christopher Leach, FF Ardythe Hope, and FF Jerry Fickes.

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Demo Derby Injury Prompts Suit Against Ohio Fire Department

A man who was injured at a demolition derby hosted by an Ohio fire department has filed suit against the department and two of its organizers. Jeffrey Gilger filed suit against the Negley Volunteer Fire Department Association and two event organizers claiming that he was injured at an event at the Rogers fire station on October 8, 2017.

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Missouri Local Files Three Suits Over Pay Issues

Firefighters in St. Charles, Missouri have filed three suits against the city alleging the city has been underpaying them. St. Charles Firefighters IAFF Local 757 claims the city owes them over $300,000 and the dispute is driving firefighters out of the department.

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Pennsylvania Teen Charged With Stealing Fire Truck

A former junior firefighter with the Strinestown Community Fire Department has been charged with stealing one of the department’s fire trucks and taking it for a joyride last Sunday. The youth was observed on surveillance video using a stolen Ford Explorer to push in an overhead door to access the fire station.

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