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.

Judge Denies TRO To Atlantic City Firefighter Over Religious Beard

A US District Court judge has denied a request for a temporary restraining order against the Atlantic City Fire Department to block disciplinary proceedings against a firefighter who has refused to shave his beard due to his religious beliefs. Alexander Smith filed suit claiming the fire department’s rules prohibiting beards discriminates against him on account of his religion.

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Honolulu Settles LODD Suit for $5 Million

Honolulu has agreed to settle with the family of a firefighter killed during a water rescue training exercise in 2016 by paying $5.25 million. Clifford Meredith Rigsbee died on June 14, 2016 while participating in water rescue training on the southeast shore of Oahu near Diamond Head.

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Indiana Court Deals South Bend Fire A Minor Set Back

The Indiana Court of Appeals dealt a slight blow to the South Bend Fire Department last week with a ruling that will allow a case that had been decided in the department’s favor to return to trial court for further proceedings. The case involved a woman, Evelyn M. Gregory, who claims she was injured due to the negligence of firefighters from the South Bend Fire Department

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Detroit Firefighters Sue to Block Bodily Fluid Clean Up Policy

Detroit Firefighters Association IAFF Local 344 has filed suit against the city in an effort to block implementation of a policy requiring firefighters to wash down blood and bodily fluids at accident and medical scenes. The lawsuit filed in Wayne County Circuit Court seeks to block implementation of the “Bodily Fluid Aftermath Cleanup" policy.

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Oakland Captain Claims Race Discrimination and Retaliation

An Oakland captain is suing the city and Fire Chief Darren White claiming he was wrongly passed over for a promotion in the fire marshal’s office because his son was convicted of arson. Captain Howard Holt filed the suit last week alleging race discrimination, age discrimination, retaliation, and a host of state law claims.

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Orange County Fire Authority Sued For Retaliation

Two California dispatchers who were terminated last year, have filed suit accusing the Orange County Fire Authority, a deputy chief and the dispatch center manager of unlawfully retaliating against them for raising legitimate concerns. Fire Communication Supervisor Megan Soman claims she was terminated after expressing her dissatisfaction with the termination of one of her subordinates, Travis Fader.

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NY Fire Department Sued for Copyright Violation

A Long Island fire department is facing a rather unusual type of lawsuit for a fire department: it stands accused of violating the Copyright Act of 1976. William P. Kelly, Jr. is suing the Oceanside Fire Department alleging ten of his photographs were used in a book about the department without his permission.

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Mount Vernon Firefighter Alleges Retaliation and Race Discrimination

A Mount Vernon firefighter who served briefly as deputy fire commissioner has filed suit against the city, the mayor, a captain and a chief accusing them of harassment, race discrimination, retaliation and whistleblower violations. Ernest Richardson filed suit against the City of Mount Vernon, the Mount Vernon Fire Department, Mayor Richard Thomas, Ops Chief al Farid Salahuddin and Captain Michael St. John.

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Polk County Snapchat Update

The Polk County fire captain at the center of controversy involving the Snapchat video from the scene of a fatal fire, has resigned. Captain James Williams was facing a new investigation about additional photos and videos he posted from emergency incidents, and for lying to investigators.

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Conviction of Arsonist in Ohio LODD Upheld

The conviction of a man accused of arson and murder for the 2015 fire that killed Hamilton, Ohio firefighter Patrick Wolterman has been upheld by the Twelfth Appellate District Court of Appeals. Lester Parker was charged with hiring his nephew, co-defendant William Tucker, to set fire to Parker’s home in order to collect the insurance proceeds.

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Florida Firefighter Terminated Over Lewd Photos

A Florida firefighter has been terminated following his no-contest plea to charges he sent lewd photos of himself to a 16-year old girl. Marco Island firefighter Nicholas Macciarolo was sentenced to three years probation in exchange for his plea to a third-degree felony charge of unlawfully using a two-way communication device to facilitate or commit a felony.

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Ohio Fire Department’s Immunity Upheld as SC Refuses to Hear Appeal

The Supreme Court of Ohio has refused to overturn a court of appeals decision granting immunity to a fire department in a suit over the death of a woman who was backed over by a fire truck. Lorri Riehm was killed in 2016 when she was run over by a Green Springs Rural VFD vehicle that was repositioning at the scene of a water rescue incident.

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