NC County Sues Volunteer Fire Department

A North Carolina county has filed suit against a volunteer fire company alleging it breached its contract to provide services by failing to meet minimum performance requirements. Pender County has asked the court to issue an injunction against the Shiloh-Columbia Volunteer Fire Department.

According to WECT News, the suit accuses the fire department of:

  • Failure to provide staff with adequate training and certifications
  • Failure to maintain a properly functioning vehicle capable of transporting 1,000 or more gallons of water required to provide adequate fire protection services
  • Allowing staff to engage in activities that they are not adequately trained or certified to perform
  • Failure to obtain and deploy appropriate fire protection and suppression equipment
  • Failure to ensure that its staff are wearing appropriate and required personal protective equipment when responding to fires
  • Failure to appropriately cooperate with other fire departments in the rendering of mutual aid
  • Failed to comply with financial reporting requirements under the Fire Contract

The county is seeking an injunction to protect the department’s assets until an inventory can be conducted to ensure taxpayer funds are accounted for. County Fire Marshal Amy Burton was quoted as saying:

  • It is a sad day anytime a fire department in our county cannot protect the people that they are sworn to protect.
  • Unfortunately, we have reached a point where Shiloh-Columbia Volunteer Fire Department cannot effectively or safely respond to fires and this department is an immediate and significant risk to the safety and welfare of the public.

A copy of the complaint is not available, nor is a copy of a reported press release about the lawsuit issued by the county. More on the story.

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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