Too Many Fire Law Headlines

It seems like each week I am only able to scratch the surface of the fire law news. This week is no exception, but I wanted to point out two additional noteworthy cases.

The first involves the settlement of the city’s portion of the Kansas City, Missouri fatal apparatus accident case. On Sunday, we covered the award of $32 million against the apparatus driver personally. Now comes word that the city has allocated $1.84 million to settle its portion of the case.  The $1.84 million represents the statutory maximum the plaintiffs can recover under Missouri’s tort claims act. That also answers the question I posed in this week’s Fire Law Roundup into why the city allowed the driver, Dominic Biscari, to go unrepresented.

The second case involves another firefighter being arrested while engaged in the performance of his duties by an overzealous cop. This one has a twist. The firefighter is a federal employee of the US Forest Service and was arrested by a county sheriff in Oregon for reckless burning. Rick Snodgrass,  a “burn boss” was overseeing a prescribed burn on federal property that had been approved by the US Forest Service. The fire extended on to private property, burning 20 acres and leading to Snodgrass’ arrest by a local sheriff.

The arrest in turn raises questions about whether that sheriff may now be open to federal charges of interfering with a federal employee (18 U.S. Code § 111), or perhaps even interfering with a firefighter in the performance of their duties under state law (ORS 162.257). More on the story.

About 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.
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An additional lawsuit has been filed over the Kansas City fatal apparatus accident, this time by the apparatus driver, IAFF Local 42, and the plaintiffs in the three prior lawsuits, claiming the city is responsible for the $32 million judgment that was awarded against the apparatus driver. There is a lot to unpack with this one as a high stakes strategic chess match is underway.