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Fire Service and Public Safety Legal Issues Blog by Curt Varone
Updated: 29 min 25 sec ago

Family Seeks LODD Status for 1935 FDNY Death

Thu, 09/21/2017 - 19:18
The family a New York City firefighter who died after a fire in 1935, is seeking to reopen the department’s decision to treat the death as not in-the-line-of-duty. Firefighter Thomas O'Brien passed away in October 1935 at Engine 3’s quarters on West 17th Street hours after he returned from a two-alarm fire
Categories: Legal

Counting Vacation and Sick Time As Hours Worked

Wed, 09/20/2017 - 18:13
Today’s burning question: If a collective bargaining agreement requires a fire department to count vacation time and sick time as hours worked for overtime purposes, do these hours have to count toward hours worked for FLSA overtime purposes? Answer: No. The Fair Labor Standards Act only requires ...
Categories: Legal

NJ Appellate Court Rules Volunteers Not Protected By Whistleblower Law

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 16:36
The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court has ruled that volunteer firefighters are not employees for purposes of protection under the state’s whistleblower law. The case involved a firefighter with the Colts Neck Volunteer Fire Company #2, Jeffrey Sauter, who claimed he was retaliated against.
Categories: Legal

Maryland Fire Company Faces Another Male-On-Male Harassment Suit

Mon, 09/18/2017 - 19:58
A firefighter paramedic who supported the allegations of a male colleague who was being sexually harassed because of his effeminate demeanor, has filed suit claiming he was retaliated against. Jeffrey Dean filed suit against the Berlin Fire Company last week.
Categories: Legal

Cleveland Firefighter Accuses FD of Reverse Discrimination

Sun, 09/17/2017 - 20:30
A Cleveland firefighter who claims he was forced to resign after his complaints about a hostile work environment were mishandled, has filed suit claiming the department leadership discriminated against him because he is white. Samuel Livingston claims he was threatened and assaulted while on duty by a colleague who is described in the complaint as “non-Caucasian”.
Categories: Legal

What Should A Salary Be Divided By To Determine Hourly Rate

Thu, 09/14/2017 - 20:16
Today’s burning question: Our city calculates our hourly pay by dividing our salary by 56 hours, not 53 hours. In other words, our hourly rate for overtime purposes is calculated by dividing the weekly salary by 56 hours. Shouldn’t they use 53 hours since the FLSA states that is the maximum allowable number of hours per week for firefighters?
Categories: Legal

Shreveport Fire Chief Settles Wrongful Termination Appeal

Wed, 09/13/2017 - 14:22
A painful chapter in the Shreveport Fire Department has finally come to a close with the announcement of a settlement in the wrongful termination appeal of former Fire Chief Craig Mulford. You may recalled in 2014, five Shreveport firefighters were charged criminally with abusing mentally challenged men who frequented their firehouse.
Categories: Legal

Firefighter Sues Claiming She was Demoted To Firefighter Because She Is A Mother

Tue, 09/12/2017 - 17:33
A female firefighter in a volunteer fire department in Pennsylvania has filed suit claiming she was demoted from her position as a lieutenant because she is a mother. Jessica Etzle filed suit against the Lower Swatara Fire Department in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Categories: Legal

Did Bonuses to Utility Company Executives Lead to Major California Wildland Fire

Mon, 09/11/2017 - 22:18
NBC Bay Area just completed an extensive investigative reporting piece that poses a very troubling question: Did the prospect of bonuses temp Pacific Gas & Electric Company executives to cut corners that contributed to the Butte fire in September, 2015 that burned over 70,000 acres, destroyed over 500 homes, and killed two people?
Categories: Legal

Austin Fire Lieutenant Accused of Secret Recording of Women In Firehouse Locker Room

Sun, 09/10/2017 - 20:29
A lieutenant with the Austin Fire Department is being investigated for placing hidden recording equipment in a women's locker room at a city firehouse. Neither the officer nor the station have been identified but the department has confirmed he has retired.
Categories: Legal

Texas Responders Sue Chemical Plant

Thu, 09/07/2017 - 21:56
Seven first responders to the disastrous chemical fire in Crosby. Texas last month have filed suit against the chemical company and three of its top managers seeking damages in excess of one million dollars in damages. The explosions and fire occurred after Hurricane Harvey struck the region.
Categories: Legal

Florida Firefighter Accused of Running Fundraising Scam

Wed, 09/06/2017 - 20:42
A Tallahassee firefighter and his wife, a Tallahassee police officer, have been charged in connection with the theft of proceeds from a fundraiser they ran last year. Joseph “Mike” Amison and Jennifer Amison are facing charges of organizing a scheme to defraud, failure to apply contributions in a manner substantially consistent with the solicitation, and two counts of grand theft.
Categories: Legal

Part-Time Firefighters and the 207k Exemption

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 15:31
Today’s burning question: Our fire department recently hired its first full-time firefighters to supplement our volunteers and part-time personnel. Historically we paid our part-time personnel overtime after 40 hours a week. Our new full-time personnel have been designated as being subject to the 207(k) partial exemption...
Categories: Legal

Charlotte Captains Claim Chief Wrongly Blocked Their Promotions

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 20:09
Two Charlotte Fire Department captains have filed suit claiming the former fire chief illegally terminated a promotional list for battalion chief, and in the process wrongfully denied them promotions. Captains Michael Clumpner and Jeffrey Matthews filed suit last week in Mecklenburg County Superior Court naming the City of Charlotte as the sole defendant. The suit ...
Categories: Legal

Overdose Patient Who Assaulted Medics Now Sues Them

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 21:43
A Washington man who called 911 because he believed he was overdosing on marijuana butter is now suing the South King Fire and Rescue and two firefighter-paramedics that he has already pled guilty to assaulting.
Categories: Legal

Connecticut Captain Charged With Sexually Assaulting Junior Firefighter

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 19:40
A captain with the Plainfield Fire Department has been charged with sexually assaulting a junior firefighter. Kevin Wells, 27, is facing three counts of second-degree sexual assault. The victim reported the assault on August 8, 2017. She reported that the assault occurred at the fire station.
Categories: Legal

Winnipeg Firefighter Sentenced For Stealing From Victim

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 20:29
Yesterday’s blog covered an unfortunately widespread problem involving the theft of large sums from fire organizations (volunteer fire companies and firefighter unions) by trusted insiders. Today out of Winnipeg comes news of an extremely rare type of theft: a firefighter who stole from a victim.
Categories: Legal

Ohio Woman Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $500k from Volunteer Fire Department

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 18:25
A part-time administrative assistant for the Falls Township Fire Department pled guilty yesterday to stealing for than half-a-million dollars from the fire department. Kristie L. Howard pled guilty in Muskingum County Common Pleas Court to felony counts of theft, telecommunication fraud, and eight counts of forgery
Categories: Legal

FLSA Retaliation – Why Go There?

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 21:04
Today’s burning question: I am a line battalion chief in a department that has thus far classified all chief officers as white-collar exempt executives who do not eligible for overtime. Our association obtained an opinion letter from a law firm that concluded line chiefs do not qualify as white-collar executives under either the traditional analysis ...
Categories: Legal

Jersey City Firefighter Facing Child Porn Charges

Sun, 08/27/2017 - 20:02
A veteran Jersey City firefighter has been suspended without pay following his arrest on charges related to child pornography. Christopher Todd, 49, was arrested last week following a lengthy investigation by the Bergen County Prosecutor's Cyber Crimes Unit
Categories: Legal