Welcome to Fire Law
There has always been an inescapable connection in my mind between the fire service and law. Perhaps its because firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, and fire departments are engaged in a dangerous business where people are killed and injured, and property is damaged and destroyed. Like a doctor in a high-risk specialty, anyone who engages in a profession where lives hang in the balance can become the target of a law suit by those who are unhappy with the outcome.
Perhaps it’s the fact that fire departments are created and governed by laws. Laws give firefighters the authority to drive fire apparatus on the road with red lights and sirens, to enter into peoples’ homes and businesses, and to deliver emergency medical care. Many fire departments are responsible for enforcing laws, such as fire codes. Fire departments are also subject to a variety of laws, such as Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, the Fair Labor Standards Act, HIPAA, HAZWOPPER, and Right-to-Know laws.
Perhaps it is the fact that cases involving firefighters and fire departments have helped to shape the legal landscape of our country, including cases on constitutional law, employment discrimination, overtime compensation, drug testing, and a host of other important topics.
What ever the cause – the connection is evident when you look at the cases: the Welanski case that arose out of the Cocoanut Grove fire, the Grogan case that arose out of the Beverly Hills Supper Club fire, the New York Times v. FDNY case that arose out of the World Trade Center attack on 9/11, and countless others make the connection between fire and law in a way that no amount of my explaining can do.
It is my sincerest hope that this blog will provide the opportunity for you to learn about the connection between fire and law – and in turn we can share information on the emerging legal issues that confront the fire service.