Three Cases in the Fire Law Headlines

Today’s fire law news left me with a bit of a dilemma. Do I cover one of the most significant Supreme Court decisions in decades that may have an impact on some fire departments, even though it does not involve firefighters? Do I cover news reports of a possible lawsuit being brought against FDNY by firefighters who were injured at a fire that they claim would have been less-eventful had the city not placed units out of service for medical exams, even though an actual lawsuit has not been filed? Or do I cover a rather boring ruling out of the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court on a public records issue because it involves a fire department?

Let’s devote a few sentences to each. The US Supreme Court today ruled that the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment does not allow race conscious decision-making in college admissions absent grounds that meet strict scrutiny. To meet strict scrutiny a law or practice must be “narrowly tailored” to meet a “compelling governmental interest.” The Court concluded that the selection process used by Harvard and the University of North Carolina involved race conscious factors that could not be justified by a compelling governmental interest. Here is a copy of the decision:

Three seriously injured FDNY firefighters have filed claims with the city, a precursor to their filing a lawsuit over injuries they sustained at a house fire on Staten Island last March. The fire injured 19 firefighters, several of whom were trapped. The three seriously injured firefighters claim that the response was unnecessarily delayed due to units being out of service for medical exams. More on the story.

Lastly, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court upheld a decision by North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue to refuse to release certain bid-related materials to a potential bidder. Both the trial court and the appellate division agreed it fit within one of the exceptions to the public records law. Here is a copy of the decision.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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