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.

Indiana Captain Sues Over Race Discrimination

A Fort Wayne captain who requested a demotion last January and resigned in October is suing the city claiming a racially hostile work environment forced him to do both. Elbert Starks claims that starting in 2017 he was subjected to racially hostile comments from co-workers.

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Fire College Employees Sue AFFF Manufacturers For $35 Million

Six former employees of the Florida State Fire College in Ocala who developed thyroid diseases and/or various cancers have filed a class action lawsuit against ten parties they claim were responsible for exposing them to toxic chemicals contained in AFFF. The suit claims the defendants were responsible for bringing AFFF to the college, and that two toxic components of the foam, PFOS and PFOA, caused their illnesses.

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Cincinnati Captain Files Federal Suit Following Firehouse TV Dispute

A Cincinnati fire captain has filed suit claiming he is the victim of sexual harassment and retaliation after he complained to a district chief about a “film” being played on the station television. Captain Janos Roper claims that personnel were watching a “graphic, offensive, and prurient film” that he found to be “repugnant” and “degrading to women.”

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Sun Prairie LODD Explosion Prompts Three Suits

The widow of a Wisconsin firefighter killed in a massive gas explosion in July has filed suit against four companies alleged to have contributed to the blast. Sun Prairie Fire Captain Cory Barr was killed and several other firefighters injured in the explosion that followed a natural gas leak caused when contractor struck a gas main.

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Houston Police-Fire Pay Parity Bill Goes Into Effect

Harris County Judge Randy Wilson has refused to extend a temporary restraining order blocking implementation of a voter-approved initiate to guaranty pay parity between Houston police and firefighters. The initiate known as Proposition B was adopted in November by a 59% majority at the behest of Houston firefighters.

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Marine Vet With PTSD Sues NJ Fire Department Over Rejection

A Marine combat veteran who came out 3rd on the Paterson Fire Department hiring list and was passed over due to his service-related PTSD has filed suit claiming disability discrimination. Brett D’Alessandro filed suit last week naming the City of Patterson, Mayor Jose Torres, Fire Chief Michael Postorino, Deputy Chief Kevin Hancock, and the Institute for Forensic Psychology.

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FLSA, Executive Exemption, Threats and Retaliation

Today’s burning question: The line chiefs in my fire department (deputy and battalion chiefs assigned to shifts) have gotten together to file an FLSA claim. We feel we are improperly classified as being exempt executives when we should be hourly employees. The Fire Chief has publicly stated that if we are successful, he will change our titles to eliminate the word “Chief”. Can he do that?

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Federal Court Dismisses Challenge to False Alarm Fee Ordinance

A local ordinance that imposes fines against alarm companies for repeated false alarms has been upheld by a federal court in Georgia. The suit involved an ordinance enacted in 2017 by the City of Sandy Springs that created a fee schedule for alarm companies whose customers transmitted false alarms to the police or fire departments.

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Indiana Chief Named in Wrongful Arrest Suit

An Indiana fire chief has been named in a federal lawsuit accusing several local officials of false arrest, malicious prosecution, tortious interference with a contract, and violations of the 1st, 4th and 14th Amendments. The suit was filed by Kristopher Bilbrey naming the City of Westminster, Police Chief Richard Tucker, Assistant Police Chief Jon Reed, and Fire Chief Gary Moore as defendants

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New Haven Firefighters Prevail in Dispute With State Association

A Connecticut Superior Court judge has ruled that New Haven Firefighters IAFF Local 825 successfully disassociated itself from the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut, Inc. and is not liable for dues after January 1, 2017. The parties have been at odds for several years with Local 825 alleging it was not a member of the UPFFA, and the UPFFA claiming it was.

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PA EMT Arrested For Sexting Underage Patient

A Pennsylvania EMT is facing criminal charges for sending inappropriate electronic content to an underage female patient. Joshua Patterson is accused of sending a sexually-explicit photo of himself to a 15-year-old girl he treated after an accident on November 15, 2018.

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Georgia Firefighter Sues For Age Discrimination

A 55-year old Georgia firefighter is suing his department accusing supervisors of trying to fabricate allegations against him and forcing him to resign earlier this year. Anthony Galvin filed suit last week in US District court accusing the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department of a single count of age discrimination.

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