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.

Social Media Posts and the Cowards Way Out

Today’s burning question: I am a fire chief and I want to know if I can discipline a firefighter for the comments his wife is posting on social media that demean and disparage me and the fire department if I know he is behind it. Answer: Ah yes, the proverbial “coward’s way out”: using one’s spouse as a mouthpiece to criticize the fire chief and the fire department.

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Florida Possum Festival Lawsuit Dismissed

Hey, stop laughing, this is serious business. The infamous Possum Festival Lawsuit of 2017 has been dismissed. The federal suit was brought against Wausau Fire Chief Samuel Rudd and the Town of Wausau by former County Commissioner Lynn Gothard over a political advertisement that she wanted published in a pamphlet the fire department was preparing for the 2016 Wausau Possum Festival.

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San Francisco EMT Sues FD and Her Colleagues for Discrimination

A former EMT with the San Francisco Fire Department is suing the department and several of her colleagues for discrimination on the basis of her sexual orientation. Jennifer Galarza filed suit in San Francisco County Superior Court alleging she was wrongfully terminated and harassed because she is a lesbian.

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Firefighter Sues LAFD Over Handling of False Allegations

A Los Angeles firefighter who claims he was falsely accused of sexually assaulting a patient, has filed suit accusing the department of defamation and discrimination. Louis Cerda, a 25 year veteran of Mexican-American heritage, filed suit last week claiming that the department’s handling of a female patient’s accusations damaged his reputation and subjected him to adverse employment action.

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FDNY Firefighter Sues Macy’s Over Injuries

An FDNY firefighter is suing Macy’s Inc. for injuries he sustained at a fire in the Macy’s store on Staten island in 2016. Richard Kane filed suit in state Supreme Court alleging he was "seriously injured" when he fell "due to an accumulation of rubbish and/or waste" on May 14, 2016.

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Burning Question on Cellphone and Social Media Privacy

Today’s burning question: Can the fire department look at what is on my cellphone or order me to given them access to what I post on my personal social media page? Answer: As a general rule no. However, there are exceptions. Take, for instance, a case decided last week involving a Florida firefighter.

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Cincinnati District Chief Appealing Trouble-Maker Lawsuit

A Cincinnati district chief who twice reported misconduct by other chief officers and thereafter was passed over for promotion, is appealing a ruling by a US District Court in favor of the city. District Chief Raffel Prophett filed suit last year accusing City Manager Harry Black of labeling him as a trouble-maker and blocking his promotion to Assistant Chief.

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Utah Assistant Chief Charged With Raping Subordinate

An assistant fire chief with the Kanosh Fire Department has been charged with rape, sex abuse and sexual battery after a firefighter reported he had been sexually assaulting her at work over a three-year period. Austin James Corry was charged with rape, object rape, forcible sex abuse, and sexual battery.

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Austin Challenges Comp Benefits for Firefighter with Cancer

An Austin firefighter who was awarded job-related workers compensation benefits for cancer is now facing a court challenge by the city. Lieutenant Carrie Stewart was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015. She was awarded comp benefits initially, and that decision was upheld by a three judge workers comp panel.

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PA Firefighters Sue Engineers For Collapse

Two Pennsylvania firefighters have filed suit against an engineering firm and an engineer who they claim are responsible for a floor collapse that killed two other firefighters during a mop-up operations at a fire scene. Assistant Chief Greg Altland and FF Erik Swanson of the York Fire Department filed separate suits yesterday.

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Louisiana Firefighter Files $1 Million Race Discrimination Suit

A former Louisiana firefighter has filed suit claiming that he was forced out of his department after he complained about supervisors making racially insensitive comments. Wilson Clark filed suit last month in US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana naming the Marrero Estelle Fire Department and several others as defendants.

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Michigan FD Sued Over Junior Program Sexual Assault

A Michigan fire department is being sued by a former junior firefighter who was sexually assaulted by two firefighters while she was participating in the department’s Explorer program. The plaintiff, identified in the suit as Jane Doe, filed the complaint on August 31, 2018 in US District Court for the Western District of Michigan naming Cascade Charter Township and the Boy Scouts of America.

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