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.

San Bruno Firefighter Claims Male Colleagues Harassed Him

A veteran San Bruno firefighter has filed suit against the City of San Bruno and four firefighters accusing them of creating a sexually hostile work environment dating back to 2010. Jon Priolo filed suit in San Mateo County Superior Court naming the city, Ben Minkin, Tyler Charles, Sean Berube and Chris De La Cruz as defendants.

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Supreme Court Strikes Down Agency Fees for Public Sector Unions

In a long-awaited decision, the US Supreme Court has ruled that public-sector unions may not require the payment of an agency fee from non-members. Handed down today in Janus v. AFSCME, the decision was based on the First Amendment concerns of non-union members who objected to having to financially support a union against their beliefs.

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Firefighters Must Pay Federal Signal’s Attorneys Fees In Hearing Loss Loss

The US Third Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a trial court ruling awarding Federal Signal Corporation more than $127,000 in legal fees and costs from a group of eleven Washington DC firefighters. The suit was originally filed against E-One, Inc., Pierce Manufacturing, Inc, Seagrave Fire Apparatus, LLC, and Federal Signal Corporation for product liability associated with their hearing loss.

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Charlotte Firefighters’ Pension Suit Headed To Trial

A group of 70 former Charlotte firefighters are one step closer to having their day in court, as a judge ruled today that their dispute over how pensions are calculated should go to a jury. The lawsuit was filed in 2016 and claimed the city’s method of calculating pension payments left them with only 86% of what they were owed.

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NY State Sues Foam Manufacturers Over AFFF Contamination

The state of New York has join a growing list of plaintiffs suing the nation’s firefighting foam manufacturers over groundwater contamination problems associated with AFFF. The suit alleges that 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products LP, Chemguard, Inc., Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, National Foam, Inc., and Kidde-Fenwal, Inc. are responsible for groundwater contamination at various sites throughout the state where firefighters have used AFFF.

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Burning Question About Bully Bosses and Insubordination

Today’s burning question: My immediate supervisor recently called me into a conference room and berated me, called me a sandbagger and used numerous expletives (predominantly dropping the "F bomb"). It got so bad, the administrative assistant down the hall heard the berating and walked in because she was concerned about my welfare. As he was in the middle of cussing me I stood up to leave and was told if I left I would face discipline and that I was ordered to sit down or face insubordination charges.

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Akron Firefighters Can’t Catch A Break

I hate to pile’on…. but since the news couldn’t get much worse for the Akron Fire Department following yesterday’s firehouse porn video revelation, why not get all the bad news over with at once. Former IAFF Local 330 treasurer Joseph Ruhlin, 41, was sentenced yesterday to two years in prison for stealing an estimated $500,000 from his brother and sister firefighters.

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Two Akron Firefighters Investigated for Making Firehouse Porn YCMTSU

Two Akron firefighters who “were known to be in a long-term relationship” have been relieved of duty as the city investigates allegations that they made a porn video in one of the city’s firehouses. Ellen Lander Nischt, a spokesperson for Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan, confirmed the allegations and the investigation today. The video was reportedly posted online.

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Detroit Firefighter Loses Reverse Discrimination Appeal

The Michigan Court of Appeals has rejected the appeal of a Detroit firefighter who claims he failed his probationary period as a lieutenant on account of his race and disability discrimination. Toby O’Brien claims his demotion in 2014 was attributable to his dyslexia and because he is white.

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Fire Law Headlines and a Familiar Name

Some folks just can’t seem to keep themselves out of the headlines. For instance, take FDNY’s Joseph Cassano, who was suspended yesterday after he was cited for trespassing on the Jersey Shore. Cassano, the son of former Fire Commissioner Sal Cassano, has been in the Fire Law Blog news at least six times prior to today.

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Negligence Suit Reinstated Against Four New York Fire Departments

Supreme Court of New York’s Appellate Division has reinstated a suit against four volunteer fire departments alleging negligence in fighting a house fire in 2014. Franciszek C. Kulon claims the Liberty Fire District, Loch Sheldrake FD, Grahamsville Volunteer FD, and the Neversink FD were grossly negligent when they responded to his home on February 18, 2014.

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NYPD Investigating Non Arrests in FDNY Medals Day Brawl

NYPD has opened an internal affairs investigation into why no FDNY firefighters were arrested after a brawl broke out at a Bronx bar following medal’s day celebrations last week. The fight at Billy’s Bar near Yankee Stadium last Wednesday was between members of Rescue 3 and members from Ladder Company 49 - Engine Company 68.

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