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FIR 4301 Political and Legal Foundations of Fire Protection

Published : 13-Oct,2021  |  Views : 10


Unit I Case Study 1

Read the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology report on the February 20, 2003 fire at The Station nightclub in Rhode Island that killed 100 people. The report is available at Prepare a memo to your fire chief that outlines the “lessons learned” from that incident and that addresses corrective actions that your department and/or the state fire marshal should take.

Your response should be at least 300 words in length. You are required to use at least your textbook as source material for your response. All sources used, including the textbook, must be referenced; paraphrased and quoted material must have accompanying citations.

Case Study 2: 

Read the NIOSH Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation Report F-2001-16 on the LODD of a career firefighter who died in responding to a house fire resulting from an improperly installed hot water heater. The report is available at

The firefighter’s widow filed suit against the heating and ventilation company that sold the water heater, the plumber that installed it, and the homeowner. The case never went to hearing since it was settled during the pre-trial discovery stage, as is commonplace.

Research the fireman’s rule in your state, and determine whether it has been modified by statute. Discuss the above incident and whether you believe each of the defendant’s would be found liable under the current status of the rule in your state and whether that is fair and reasonable.

Your response should be at least 300 words in length. You are required to use at least your textbook as source material for your response. All sources used, including the textbook, must be referenced; paraphrased and quoted material must have accompanying citations.

Unit II Case Study 1

Review Articles V and VI of the EMAC legislation Public Law 104-321. 
To do this, copy and paste the following web address into a web browser: Assume that in response to a request for support from a neighboring state, your fire department decides to send one engine and a crew of four career firefighters/paramedics. You are not selected. One of your best friends who has been selected urges you to drive to the site of the call in the neighboring state in your own vehicle and hook up with the engine company when you get there.

From pre-EMAC and post-EMAC perspectives, describe what legal liability risks you are personally incurring when rendering medical assistance as an out-of-state paramedic who is “freelancing”. If the incident commander allows you to participate in response, is he or she and/or your home municipality facing potential liability? Be sure to address each issue from both perspectives.

Your response should be at least 300 words in length. You are required to use at least your textbook as source material for your response. All sources used, including the textbook, must be referenced; paraphrased and quoted material must have accompanying citations.

Case Study 2:

The St. Louis Fire Department experienced a heavy drop in emergency vehicle accidents after issuing an SOP that requires “on the quiet” responses (no red lights or sirens) for incidents such as automatic alarms, smoke detectors, sprinkler alarms, manual pull stations, carbon monoxide detectors, and natural gas leaks. Many fire departments limit “hot” responses to alarm drops to the first due engine and, possibly, a battalion chief. Other departments will send an engine company to accompany an emergency medical services squad, but the engine company goes “on the quiet.” A couple of terrific studies of such policies in Anne Arundel County, MD, and Philadelphia, PA, are available via the U.S.

Fire Administration’s website.

Williams, A. S., Anne Arundel County Fire Department. (2005). Identifying issues when responding without lights and siren to selected call types for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. Retrieved from

You can locate the above study through one of the following ways:
  • Copy and paste the following link into a web browser:
  • The following link will take you to the information page with a link to the .pdf:
  • Use a key word search or call number (38659) at the following website:
Hargett, E. F., Philadelphia Fire Department. (2005). Preventing emergency vehicle accidents in the Philadelphia Fire Department. Emmitsburg, MD: National Fire Academy. Retrieved from
You can locate the above study through one of the following ways:
  • Copy and paste the following link into a web browser:
  • The following link will take you to the information page with a link to the PDF:
  • Use a key word search or call number (38366) at the following website:
Describe what fire departments have done in your particular state to develop a similar SOP that addresses emergency response on certain runs.

Unit III Case Study 1

Review Case Study 6-2: Firefighter Mandatory Retirement Age, found on page 75 in the textbook. Minch v. City of Chicago, 363 F.3d 615 (7th Cir. April 9, 2004).

The full decision is available at

Discuss whether you believe it is appropriate for physical examination/tests to be given more frequently as firefighters increase in age to ensure they are physically capable of handling the duties and responsibilities of the job. As part of your analysis of this issue, address whether you believe all firefighters, including those in administrative positions, should be required to pass annual physical examinations/tests.

Your response should be at least 300 words in length. You are required to use at least your textbook as source material for your response. All sources used, including the textbook, must be referenced; paraphrased and quoted material must have accompanying citations.

Case Study 2: 

Review Case study 7-2: Employer “Mixed Motive” When Terminating Female-Circumstantial Evidence Admissible to Prove Anti-Female Workplace/U.S. Supreme Court, found on page 85 in the textbook. Desert Palace, Inc. dba Caesers Palace Hotel and Casino v. Costa, 539 U.S.90 (2003; U.S. Supreme Court (June 9, 2003).

The full decision is available at

Then, consider this hypothetical situation. You are the fire chief. A female firefighter has complained to you about ongoing harassment, and you have promptly investigated and verbally cautioned her male crew members to stop the harassment.

Describe what steps you should next take when you receive complaints from those same crew members about her lack of cooperation and substandard performance.

Unit IV Case Study 1

Review Case Study 8-1: Fire Apprentice Program to Recruit Minorities – Added Points on Entrance Test, found on page 99 in the textbook. IAFF Local 136 v. City of Dayton, 107 Ohio St. 3d 10, 2005-Ohio-5826 (November 16, 2005).

To view the full decision copy and paste the following web address into a web browser:

Although the Ohio Supreme Court found the added points program did not violate the rights of male and non-minority applicants, describe some alternative means or programs that the fire department might use to recruit female and minority firefighters.

Your response should be at least 300 words in length. You are required to use at least your textbook as source material for your response. All sources used, including the textbook, must be referenced; paraphrased and quoted material must have accompanying citations.

Case Study 2:

Review Case study 9-2: Firefighter with Back Injury Offered Light Duty in Police Department, found on page 116 in the textbook. Pfanz v. City of Cincinnati, 149 Ohio App.3d 743, 778 N.E.2d 1073 (Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals (2002)).

To view the full decision copy and paste the following web address into a web browser:

Large fire departments typically have light duty assignments available for firefighters who are temporarily unable to perform the essential functions of their regular job. However, many smaller departments do not have such accommodations available.

Explain the obligations of employers and employees to enter into discussions regarding reasonable accommodations. Also, discuss whether the department that does offer an accommodation, such as a light duty assignment, should impose a time limit for when the firefighter must either return to full duty, take disability retirement, or otherwise leave the department.

Your response should be at least 300 words in length. You are required to use at least your textbook as source material for your response. All sources used, including the textbook, must be referenced; paraphrased and quoted material must have accompanying citations.

Unit V Case Study 1

Review Case Study 11-3: Comp Time – Public Employers Offering Instead of Overtime Pay/U.S. Supreme Court, found on page 146 in the textbook. Christensen v. Harris County, 529 U.S. 576 (2000).

The full decision is available at

Many fire departments have rules regarding the maximum compensation time that employees may accumulate and also how compensation time is paid at retirement or termination.

Discuss the rules regarding compensation time accrual and use in your fire department or another department in your state and compare and contrast them to those at issue in Christensen. Be sure to address if and how the rules comply with the FLSA.

Case Study 2: 

Review Case Study 12-1: Random Drug testing – No History of Drug Problems on Fire Department, found on page 152 in the textbook. Petersen v. City of Mesa, 83 P.3d 35 (Ariz. 2004), Arizona Supreme Court No. CV-03-0100-PR.

To view the full decision copy and paste the following web address into a web browser:
Though the Arizona Supreme Court found Mesa’s random drug testing to be outside the “closely guarded category of constitutionally permissible suspicionless searches”, a number of Appeals Court cases have upheld drug testing of firefighters in general, finding that that they do serve in “safety-sensitive” positions. 
Discuss whether your fire department or another fire department in your state has a random drug testing program. Briefly outline the provisions of the program. Also, explain if and how this program is addressed in your union’s collective bargaining agreement with your employer.

Unit VI Case Study 1

Review Case Study 14-1: Physical Fitness and Wellness Program – Annual Medical Exam, found on page 184 in the textbook. Weimer v. City of Baton Rouge, 915 So.2d 875 (La.App. May 6, 2005).

The full decision is available at This case addressed the legality of imposing a health and wellness program on firefighters.

Describe the nature of the health and wellness program in your fire department or another department in your state.

Explain the process by which the program was implemented and the union’s part, if any, in that process. Address the aspects of the program requiring voluntary or mandatory participation and, if applicable, disciplinary or non-disciplinary actions resulting from refusal to participate.

Case Study 2: 

Review Case Study 14-3: Physical Ability Testing, Adverse Impact on Female Firefighters, found on page 187 in the textbook. Victoria Pietras v. Board of Fire Commissioners of the Farmingdale Fire District, 180 F.3d 468 (2nd Cir. 1999).

The full decision is available at This case addressed the disparate impact of a physical agility test on female firefighters.

Describe the physical agility testing done by your fire department or a department in your state. Address whether the testing is work related and reflects a “real world” scenario. Also, discuss whether you believe the testing has a disparate impact based upon sex or age.

Unit VII Case Study 1

Review Harmon v. Ogden City Corporation, 2007 UT App. 336, Case No 20060434-CA, October 18, 2007.

The full decision is available at

Harmon was a captain who was terminated for his involvement in a number of inappropriate, off duty activities during his twenty-one year career.

Discuss what policies your department has in place to prevent and address off duty activities, such as those in Harmon.

Describe any training that is conducted or that you believe should be conducted to address the impact of off duty activities on your official position. In your description, identify whether this training covers ethics and conflicts of interest. Also, address whether you believe Harmon’s termination was an appropriate sanction.

Case Study 2:

Review In the Matter of an Act 111 Interest Arbitration between City of Philadelphia and International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 22, AAA Case No. 14 360 L 00532 09, Issued July 2, 2012.

To view the full decision copy and paste the following web address into a web browser:

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), Local 22, has been pursuing payment of its $200M arbitration award for a number of years. The initial award was reviewed and vacated by the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas and then remanded back to the arbitration panel.

Discuss whether you agree or disagree with the panel’s final decision in light of the dire budget issues facing Philadelphia.

Should the city’s budget woes be taken into consideration by the panel, and, if so, how much weight would you give to the situation? Describe the dispute resolution provision in your collective bargaining agreement or, if you do not have one, describe the provision for one of your local firefighters’ unions. Discuss whether you believe such a provision is fair and equitable for both parties.

Unit VIII Case Study 1 

Review Case Study 18-1: EMT Injured by Toxic Fumes - Files Suit Against Chemical Company, found on page 231 in the textbook. Kapherr v. MFG Chemical, Inc., No. A06A0184, December 28, 2005.

The full decision is available at

In Kapherr, the Georgia Court of Appeals found that the fireman’s rule does apply to emergency medical technicians. Address the argument that Kapherr maintained regarding treating the injured only if the scene had been secured. Do you agree with the court’s reasoning in responding to this defense? Explain why, or why not. 

Describe a set of circumstances under which it would not be reasonable to consider that the emergency responder has assumed the risk of the hazardous circumstances at the scene.

Research and determine the status of the fireman’s rule in Georgia. Identify whether there has been any change to the law since Kapherr. Research and determine the status of the Fireman’s rule in your state. If your state is Georgia or Florida, please select a neighboring state. Has the rule been adopted and enacted into law? Have there been any exceptions enacted into law?

Case Study 2

Read Espinoza v. Schulenburg, CV-05-0158-PR, Arizona Supreme Court, 2006. To view the full decision copy and paste the following web address into a web browser:

Espinoza was an off duty firefighter and emergency medical technician who was injured while providing roadside assistance to the Schulenburgs. The trial court granted summary judgment to the Schulenburgs, holding that the firefighter's rule bars Espinoza's claim. The court of appeals reversed that decision, holding that the firefighter's rule should be narrowly construed so as not to bar the claims of off duty firefighters.

To see the full Court of Appeals decision, copy and paste the following web address into a web browser:

However, the appeals court remanded for determination of whether Espinoza had a duty as part of her job as a firefighter to render assistance, in which case the court would apparently conclude that the rule should apply to bar her suit. On appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court, a more conclusive decision was handed down. That Court made the clear distinction between on-duty and off duty, finding that Espinoza volunteered to render aid and, therefore, the fireman’s rule did not apply.

Discuss how the Arizona Supreme Court distinguished between on-duty and off duty. Do you agree with this distinction?

Can you suggest other distinguishing factors that should have been considered? Should the fact that one receives workers’ compensation for the injury enter into the distinction? Describe how your department addresses rendering aid off duty. Is it part of your “duty” as a firefighter, or is it more so an ethical duty? Also, describe how your department addresses off duty injuries incurred as a result of rendering aid.


Legal aspects of fire services and the political and social impacts of legal issues

Brief overview

This report analyses various legal and related issues in fire and emergency services. This will be attained through comprehensive analysis of the sample legal cases and drawing relevant lessons on the best fire service guidelines and practices, and how to avoid legal liabilities. The report further provides varied legal conclusions and recommendations based on the analysis of the case studies.    

Unit 1 case study 1

In this case, a fast-moving fire did spread and destroyed a building housing the Station nightclub in West Warwick resulting in over 100 fatalities and many more injuries.

From this tragic fire incidence, the following lessons can be derived. First, there is an inherent need to establish and implement effective fire safety inspections and code enforcement (Ohio Fire Code, 2007). This is because this fire disaster was majorly caused by inadequate follow-up and documentation given that the untreated polyurethane foam was never sanctioned to be used by the marshals. Both the town and the state had no official documentation showing the approval of the use of pyrotechnics. Lastly, the station did not comply with most of the Ohio state codes on a model building code that addresses various life safety concerns (Ohio Fire Code, 2007).        

Correspondingly, some of corrective actions that the state fire department must implement include ensuring a minimum staffing of four fire marshals on both engines and trucks. This is because, if there were additional fire marshals on the scene, the rescue mission and firefighting efforts would have been boosted. The department should also increase its radio capabilities by purchasing high volume traffic communication equipment to facilitate fire ground operations and shorten incident resolution (Della-Giustina, 2014).

Also, the department should establish more comprehensive strategic decisions to effectively implement the incident action plan. For instance, there should be a mass casualty incident strategic operation plan that focuses on the rescue, identification, treatment and transportation of the injured. Moreover, the state fire department should establish an Incident Management System (IMS) to effectively manage incidents of this magnitude (Della-Giustina, 2014). Such a system must have a command that majorly focuses on the delegation of scene functions and managing emergency situations. Lastly, there should be an improvement on record keeping practices clearly showing permit applications to the use of venues.              

Case study 2

In this particular case, a fire marshal died while responding to a reported house fire that was as a result of inappropriately installed hot water heating system.  

The fireman’s rule is statutory restriction on tort actions barring state officers from pursuing damages that might have been as a result of explicit negligence (Casselman, 2017). The law prohibits injured fire marshals from suing people who purported negligence may have caused the incident leading to the stipulated injuries. This law has been modified by various state statutes to include certain common exceptions. For example, in my state, the rule does not include intentional acts such as arson by owner, failing to adequately warn the firefighters of apparent danger, irresponsibility and acute cases of negligence. As such, when the negligence of the property owner resulted into the need for the emergency firefighters’ response, the Fireman’s Rule applies. This is because, based on this jurisdiction, all public officers when hired willingly agree to confront associated risks in their line of duty, and that their major function is to confront such risks (Casselman, 2017).   

Under the state’s Fireman’s Rule jurisdiction, the firefighter’s widow suit against the heating and Ventilation Company and the plumber is likely to go through. However, the homeowner, in defence, will argue that the accident was a direct negligence of the plumber who installed the heater and the company that knowingly sold defaulted equipment (Regehr et al., 2005). The State civil code supersedes the rule especially in cases of tortious conducts when there is a proof that that the defendants (plumber and company that sold the heater) knew about the default in the water heater. Therefore, the Fireman’s Rule will only apply in the case of the property owner in this case given that the alleged negligence caused the need for emergence response.

Basically, Fireman’s Rule bases its defence on the concept of assumption of risks that stipulates that by responding to the emergency, the victim had assumed potential risks of such magnitudes, and that the defendants cannot be held liable for his death. Generally, this rule that prohibits injured parties from recovering from the parties that caused the negligence is not fair and reasonable (Regehr et al., 2005).      

Unit 2 case study 1

In this case, various pre-EMAC and post-EMAC perspectives are clearly stipulated shedding more light on the individual and state responsibilities during disasters.   

Offering mutual-aid in the form of medical assistance to a freelancing officer may attract some legal liabilities (Hodge Jr & Anderson, 2008). If the officers are operating out of their state jurisdiction and is not authorized to be at the scene, then offering self-care at the expense of other authorized firefighters may be legally risky. Freelancers causes logistical nightmares to the commander officers who may be forced to direct the limited resources to rescue or treat them. Offering such treatments are seen as increasing the incident stress and confusion for the incident commander who has a pre-determined tally of all the resources. When one is injured on a freelancing mission, they should not be subjected to medical or disability coverage (Hodge Jr & Anderson, 2008).

Freelancing is a dangerous and unsupervised fire scene activity that may result into severe consequences. The incident commander who sanctions a self-deployed officer (freelancer) is tasked with coordinating operations and is liable to the anticipated responses and possible expectations (Hodge Jr, 2006). For instance, if the undisciplined firefighter errors in any way, the incident officer is liable to possible legal redresses. When injuries or even deaths occurs from freelancing, the commanding officer who sanctioned such involvement must be held accountable. This is because self-deployed officers (freelancers) increases the scene safety concerns, and this may further intensify the situations particularly if the freelancing officer requires rescue or attention. For instance, is the freelancing officer is injured or even killed in action, the commanding officer shall held liable for failing to clearly spell out the ground rules and consequences. However, such legal liabilities will not be applicable in pre-EMAC and post-EMAC teams identified, designated, trained and authorized to operate in such incidents (Hodge Jr, 2006).                       

Case study 2

In the contemporary societies, fire departments have well-written SOPs (standard operating procedures) that governs their various operational and administrative activities (Chen et al., 2008). Indeed, effective SOPs can be used to enhance departmental performances by ensuring uniformity and creating clear guidelines and responsibilities particularly during emergency situations.

Basically, fire departments in my state are developing a similar SOPs that can be used to adequately increase performances and reduce operational errors. Some of the common SOPs that the departments are using to address various emergency responses on certain runs include imposing higher standards of care to the victims. For example, one of the departments’ SOPs stipulates that all vehicles must be stabilized and patients immobilized if a cervical spine or any other dangerous injury is detected (Chen et al., 2008).

In developing effective SOPs, the state fire department have given clear details on the initial responsibilities of every unit. For instance, the first-arriving units are required to take full control of the scenes and prevent further injuries and unauthorized entry (Bennett, 2008). Subsequently, the first heavy rescue team is tasked with conducting extrications among other necessary supports.

The fire departments in the state are taking further caution to ensure that the SOPs are relevant to a particular situation. More emphasis is placed on the ability of the firefighters to remain flexible based on the details of the event. For example, the state SOPs clearly specifies the number of equipment that are dispatched on every call and the general task of every unit once they reach the scenes. The clear identification of the problem that the department is trying to solve enables the service managers to correctly establish the most viable solutions and tools for the incidents (Bennett, 2008). For instance, during emergency responses, red lights and sirens are arrayed to help in clearing traffic.                   

Unit 3 case study 1

In this case, two firefighters sued the City of Chicago for being forced to retire at 63 years old as stipulated under the MRO (Mandatory Retirement Ordinance) laws. The two officers claimed that such actions amounted to discrimination based on age and requested the court to authorize immediate reinstatement. However, based on the CBA signed by the two firefighters, the court established that the MRO laws that the city applied did not contradict the ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act). As such, the city was not precluded by any law from forcing these two firefighters to retire at a predetermined age (Friedman, 2011).

Undoubtedly, firefighting is a strenuous task that necessitates perfect physical condition and high health standards. Therefore, mandatory fitness tests and programs are necessary to help in evaluating the physical performances of the marshals. The primary objective of such tests is to ensure that every firefighter is in the best physical condition to perform critical and arduous tasks (Dennis & Thomas, 2007). Such physical examinations may include annual respiratory tests that helps in ascertaining whether the firefighters are fit for duty. Besides, contrary to some popular beliefs, the tests do not infringe on any individual personal rights, but rather aim at ensuring that each marshal is in the best position to safely and successfully execute their functions.

I believe that the health of all firefighters including those in administrative positions is important, and that comprehensive medical evaluations are obligatory. Thus, each and every member must pass the annual physical examinations to ascertain their readiness to execute essential and vigorous job functions (Dennis & Thomas, 2007). If a firefighter is deemed not fit for duty, and that their health conditions can prevent them from safely performing physical functions such as climbing ladders and stairs, then they be subjected to mandatory leave or retirement as stipulated under the MRO laws.                

Case study 2  

In this case, the petitioner (the only female warehouse worker) filed a lawsuit against her employers asserting discrimination based on sex. The chief argued that the female employee’s disciplinary sanctions were as a result of her inherent failure to coordinate with her co-workers (Case, 2014). However, the court held that the defendant (employer) had an affirmative defence if they could prove beyond reasonable doubt that the decision made was necessary, and that they could have acted in the same manner had gender not played a part. The burden of proof was not an issue here unless incongruent treatment of the petitioner was apparent (Case, 2014).

In the first instance, the chief rightfully and promptly investigated the crew members and cautioned them to stop the harassment (Friedman, 2007). However, upon receiving more complaints from the members on her perceived lack of cooperation and inferior performances, the chief is justified to take necessary disciplinary measures against her that should include a stern warning (Friedman, 2007). If such complaints persists, and there is enough proof to support such allegations, the chief should dismiss her with immediate effect. In his defence, the chief will argue that he would have acted the same if she was the only male, and that sex did not play any role in her dismissal.

The chief would further cite other motivating factors such as her lack of cooperation and substandard performance (Friedman, 2007). Notably, just like in the Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins case, the court will not prove a “mixed-motive” case where both legitimate and illegitimate reasons are the motivating factors behind a particular decision (Friedman, 2007). Instead, the court will hold that proof beyond reasonable doubt will be required to ascertain that her dismissal was absolutely because of her gender rather than performance and non-cooperation.

Unit 4 case study

Case study 1

In this case, an appeal was submitted in the Ohio Supreme Court to ascertain how the city of Dayton could effectively select individuals for employment opportunities at the city’ fire department. In many societies, there is a common discernment that firefighting is not a friendly career especially to women and minorities making it difficult to attract these groups to the fire departments (Hashem & Lilly, 2007).     

In addition to those suggested by the Supreme Court, there are other numerous alternative means and programs that the city’s fire department can use to recruit female and minority fire marshals.  The city of Dayton should introduce meaningful changes to its hiring procedures for firefighters to ensure an increase in diversity (Hashem & Lilly, 2007). For instance, the fire department can start cadet programs to introduce women and minorities to various public safety service professions. Similarly, the city can initiate widespread outreach campaigns targeting mainly the inclusion of highly-competent minorities and female contenders (Hulett et al., 2008). In addition, the city can use minority and female recruiters in the city to emphasize on its increased commitment towards embracing diversity in the department. This will help in attracting more female and minority applicants (Hashem & Lilly, 2007).

Also, when advertising for the positions, the city should clearly show how much the department values inclusion and diversity, and that they will truly value minorities and female firefighters. The department should further reach out to predominantly minority schools and colleges to market their prospective positions and provide more information on what it takes to be a firefighter. Moreover, the department can advertise with the radio stations, TV and Newspapers that have a large base of minority audiences. Another viable alternative is to reduce the minimum background qualifications especially the numerous classes that applicants must pass through to qualify for the department’s tests (Hulett et al., 2008).          

Case study 2

Every organization is required to adequately establish relevant procedures that can effectively handle requests from their employees for reasonable accommodation. Such requests are usually made when an employee with certain disability requires to be accommodated and accorded equal opportunity to compete and execute job specifications (Basas, 2008). Also, such requests can be made when an employee with disability requires special access to a work station among other reasonable requests. In general, reasonable accommodation aim at promoting inclusion of persons with disability and complete participation in work related issues among other privileges enjoyed by other employees. Reasonable accommodation may range from such modifications that aim at ensuring a complete respect to an employee’s right to workplace autonomy, discretion and self-respect (Camara, 2009).

In the specified case, the court held that employers and unions have a joint obligation to establish such measures that can enable reasonable accommodation (Basas, 2008). On the other hand, employees have an obligation to make such requests for reasonable accommodation and meet the agreed job standards once such requests have been granted among other onuses. The employee must also prove beyond any reasonable doubt that he is indeed disabled, and that he had informed the employer of condition, and that he is still in a position to execute essential functions agreed under the job requirements.             

In smaller departments that cannot sufficiently provide reasonable accommodation, there is a requirement for re-examination whether the employee need any other bona fide treatment. For instance, the department can modify the employee’s employment terms and conditions to ascertain whether there is an inherent need for light duty assignments or reduced work shifts. An organization cannot set a time limit for when a fire marshal should return to full duty, oblige the firefighter to take disability retirement or quit the department (Camara, 2009). However, if an employee cannot satisfactorily meet certain standards even with reasonable accommodation, the department is allowed by law to step back.         

Unit 5 case study 1

The FLSA (Fair Labour Standards Act) of 1983 covers all public agency personnel in all States and their political units, and permits employees’ compensation for overtime work (Mayer et al., 2013). In the Christensen v. Harris case, the defendant, Harris County wanted to escape the payment of accrued compensatory time and as a result adopted a policy that required its personnel to schedule time off. The petitioners (Harris County deputy sheriffs) based their arguments on the FLSA that prohibits employers from compelling employees from using compensatory time without any valid agreement. However, the court affirmed arguments by the defendant that the FLSA did not prohibit any organization from influencing the application of employees’ compensatory time.   

In my State, the fire department, without any prescribed conditions, there is a requirement for compensatory time that requires the agency to pay every extra hour worked, in lieu of cash overtime recompense. Just like in the Christensen v. Harris case, the court held that Harris County did not violate any FLSA regulations as they were not required to have any form off agreement. Every hour accrued of the prescribed compensatory time must be paid in cash (Curiale, 2009). Similarly, the firefighters are duly permitted to use compensatory time unless if it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that such actions may “overly upset” the operations of the department (Mayer et al., 2013). According to the FSLA, if the right to compensatory time is abruptly terminated, a worker has the right to be recompensed up to the preceding three years of engagement for any compensatory time outstanding. Similarly, in the Christensen v. Harris case, the court held that the FLSA did not prohibit an employer from restricting the use of compensatory time. In fact, the FLSA allows employers to influence the number of overtime hours accrued if such payments are likely to “overly upset” the operations of the company (Curiale, 2009).  

Case study 2

Most of the drug testing in my State particularly among the present fire department employees are mainly based on “reasonable suspicions” that an individual may be overindulged, otherwise, such actions are prohibited (Bush, 2008). However, the department must also prove that such suspicions if allowed to materialize may undesirably affect the firefighter’s job performances. Indeed, while the Arizona Supreme Court established that Mesa’s random drug testing was not based on “reasonable suspicions”, there are numerous courts that have argued otherwise (Fish, 2011).

For example, in my state, random drug tests can be executed through federal law authorization and if the court can establish that the personnel is serving in an profession that can designated as highly risky or safety-sensitive. Also, random drug tests can be included in a CBA that requires employees to voluntarily participate in such exercises. Under such CBAs, an organization designated as “safety-sensitive” requires random drug tests to help in evaluating employees’ performances (Bush, 2008). The CBA may also categorise such indiscriminate tests as part of employee support programs subsidized by the department. Once such relevant agreements and support documents have been established, additional policies should be enacted to outline different disciplinary consequences for non-compliance.        

Firefighting is perceived to be a high-risk occupation given that it may occasionally expose the employees to various life-threatening situations that may require high level decisions or extra cautions. Therefore, random drug testing can help such organizations to determine whether their employees are in the best shape to execute their functions without any undue influence of drugs (Fish, 2011). If a department can obtain a designation as a high-risk department from the labour commission, random drug testing can be permitted. The stated Appeals Court cases that have sustained random drug testing of firefighters must have based their judgements on the “safety-sensitive” occupation argument.                    

Unit 6 case study 1

In this case, the Appeal Court of Louisiana questioned the legitimacy of enforcing a health and wellness program on firefighters. The court argued that some mandatory health and wellness programs such assessing the medical history to use post-employment were a direct violation of individual firefighter’s privacy.   

In my State’s fire department, wellness and fitness of the firefighters is given an upper hand. The departments conducts constant training and upkeep activities to ensure that the employees’ wellness remains a chief priority (Mabry et al., 2013). As such, there are numerous fitness and wellness programs that have been established and are being implemented by the departments. These programs include comprehensive medical and fitness evaluations, rehabilitation programs, and developmental health support among other initiatives (Poston et al., 2013).

These programs aims at providing the firefighters with the relevant knowledge, backing and prospects to advance their physical well-being, wellness and the inherent ability to enhance their respective job performances. For example, the State’s fire department frequently conducts medical examinations that may include vision tests, chest x-ray and urinalysis among others (Mabry et al., 2013). Some fitness assessments carried out the State’s respective fire departments include aerobic capacity given the nature of work carried out by the firefighters.

However, some of these tests have limitations, and can only be used for pre-employment purposes only and are not applicable to the present firefighters. While most fire departments have clearly proposed some of the mandatory fitness programs such as aerobics. Such mandatory fitness and wellness tests aim at certifying that a firefighter is medically qualified to go for operations and has the ability to execute vital functions (Poston et al., 2013). If a firefighter fails to comply with these mandatory tests, the department can institute disciplinary actions or even issue a sick leave instead of limited responsibilities until such medical evaluations are conducted.             

Case study 2

In the case of Victoria Pietras v. Farmingdale Fire District, the court affirmed that the petitioner was indeed an employee of the defendant, and that she had been exposed to tests that were not work-related, and that such tests were proven to have distinct impact on women.   

Being a very physical-oriented job, conducting and passing fitness tests in firefighting particularly in the hiring phases is extremely important. The significance of upholding a healthy lifestyle based on a comprehensive fitness program can never be over stressed (Bissett, Bissett, & Snell, 2012). The fire department has inaugurated standardized physical fitness programs that new firefighters must pass through. For instance, the new firefighters may be required to wear a 50 ib. vest and an additional 25 lb. weight while climbing some stairs.

The new firefighters may also be required to conduct simulated ladder raising, forceful entries and rescue, height restrictions among other physically demanding tests. The primary objective of these tests is to measure the new firefighters’ individual abilities to physically perform their demanding tasks (Bissett, Bissett, & Snell, 2012). The candidates are expected to pass the tests if they to administer the new marshals during the hiring process.  

Undoubtedly, these tests have had disparate impact on women and aged firefighter applicants. For instance, the ladder lifting test can be physically demanding and this may limit women and aged applicants from passing the assessment. Also, the strenuous stairs climbing with a load of over 75 lb. is completely outrageous to most women and relatively aged new recruits. Just like in the Victoria Pietras v. Farmingdale Fire District, some of these tests discriminate against women and comparatively aged firefighters, and should be moderated. In general, while the idea behind the proposed physical agility tests is awesome, it is highly unlikely that most women aged new recruits will meet the same standards as their male and younger counterparts (Williams-Bell et al., 2009).                               

Unit 7 case study 1

In the case of Harmon v. Ogden City Corporation, the court affirmed that the petitioner’s termination was a disparate sanction, and that his civil rights were violated as a result of the botched and unconvincing disciplinary actions he was subjected to by the commission. The court held that the commission erred in considering evidence that Harmon’s involvement in the Weedkiller incidence were based on facts, and that such actions truly warranted his ultimate termination. Correspondingly, the commission failed to prove that Harmon’s actions unreasonably harmed the department’s reputation, or that such actions subsequently rendered him inept of executing his assigned duties.  

Therefore, there is an obvious need to conduct trainings that can effectively address employees’ off duty activities (Graafland & Van de Ven, 2006). Such trainings should cover ethical dynamics and conflict of interest that may possibly arise from off duty behaviours. For instance, the training should encourage employees to seriously ascertain whether off-duty behaviours may have any obvious impact on their subsequent job performances. Moreover, the trainings should introduce the employees to general principles of ethical conduct that requires employees to behave based on certain moral values above private advances. Besides, the training should encourage the employees to avoid holding separate interests that may significantly conflict with the meticulous enactment of obligation. Additionally, every organization should have a general rule that prohibits employees from engaging in separate off duty activities that may conflict with their official duties (Graafland & Van de Ven, 2006).                   

However, I believe that Harmon’s termination was the most apt sanction given that the department naturally had a vivacious interest in protecting its reputation (Cohen & Cohen, 2007). Undoubtedly, and from a rational perspective, Harmon’s notorious and embarrassing actions visibly tattered the department’s reputation. Harmon or any other individual in similar situation may point at the violation of privacy during off duty antics as a viable defence. According to this defence, Harmon had the constitutional guarantees of discretion and choice of association, and that his off duty actions were of no concern to the department as long as he could still accomplish his duties satisfactorily (Cohen & Cohen, 2007).                              

Case study 2

In this case, the City of Philadelphia and the IAFF (International Association of Fire Fighters) established a comprehensive CBA that was used to administer employees’ wages, hours worked and work conditions. Based on the CBA, the IAFF justified their pursuit payment of a $200M arbitration award (Lundy, 2014). The panel assessed the city’s fiscal condition and ability to recompense fair award for its fire marshals and paramedics. The panel’s final decision unreservedly deprived the Local 22’s of the $200M reward that they truly deserved. While the city’s budget woes should be considered by the panel in making any decision, initial agreements that are clearly stipulated under the CBA should be honoured whatsoever.    

I object the panel’s decision as it gives the city a leeway to engage the Local 22’s in other protracted and costly appeals. Nevertheless, the panel’s decision to honour the 2010 Award is commendable given that it rejected the city’s proposal to violate some of the terms of the CBA that objected any significant reductions in coverage and costs. Such actions could have reduced fire and other emergency service coverage to the city’s residence (Antonellis, 2012).   

The core purpose of a dispute resolution provision in a CBA (collective bargaining agreement) to institute an effective procedure for fair, speedy and logical rectification of objections. A conflict is described as any such dispute, assertion, or grievance that may entail the elucidation, submission, or apparent desecration of any CBA provision. In this case, the IAFF was entitled to file a complaint under the terms of the initial CBA (Antonellis, 2012). As such, dispute resolutions under a CBA requires that the IAFF or any other relevant union drafts a brief statement explaining the complaints, the section of the agreement allegedly violated, possible remedy and adjustment and the procedures for resolving such conflicts.                             

Unit 8 case study 1

In the case of Kapherr v. MFG Chemical, the Appeal Court in Georgia maintained the Fireman’s rule is applicable to emergency medical specialists responding to a related incident. The petitioner being the first professional responder at the scene assumed all the risks that involved being in contact with toxic chemicals meaning that the scene was not adequately secured. Specifically, the court held the assumption of risk doctrine and directed that the EMTs did not have any right to charge individuals who negligently caused a need for the emergency that may have resulted in his injury (Handley, 2015). This is because the EMT upon being employed, accepted and assumed all the general risks of injury and is paid and trained to cope with such conditions.

This court’s decision in Kapherr v. MFG Chemical is very fair given that the Fireman’s rule was created majorly to protect property owners and businesses among other public institutions from being held liable in an even that a safety service officer is injured while at the scene. This rule is very important in maintaining public safety in Georgia because it allows individuals to call for emergency help without dreading possible lawsuits in the event of an injury (Heidt, 2007). As such, in the case of Kapherr v. MFG Chemical, the court was right to hold that the EMT injured while on duty could recover tort damages from the individual whose purported negligence had caused the accident.

However, in certain situations, it cannot be reasonable to contemplate that the EMT responder had assumed the risks of the hazardous situations. For instance, if the property owner did not warn the EMT to refrain from such wilful acts that can be injurious, then the Fireman’s rule should not apply (Handley, 2015). For example, if the victim is HIV positive and still allowed the EMT to attend to an open wound without prior warning, then the rule should not apply.           

Notably, in my State, the Fireman’s rule has been modified since the Kapherr case to include statutes that offers due protection to officers engaged in specified activities such as injuries suffered in a car chase driving. As such, the rule in such state do not absolutely prevent firefighters from recovering tort damages if they suffer any injuries in the course of conducting their responsibilities (Heidt, 2007).                

Case study 2

In this case, the trial court held that the Fireman’s rule barred Espinoza from recovering damages as a result of the injuries incurred while providing the emergency assistances to Schulenburg. However, the Appeal Court retreated the decision and upheld that the Fireman’s rule should be adjusted to incorporate the claims of Espinoza who was an off duty officer (Berry, 2007).

In distinguishing between on-duty and off duty obligations, the court held that a firefighter’s presence at a rescue scene when still at work is an on-duty obligation and the Fireman’s rule applies (Haski-Leventhal & McLeigh, 2010). However, if an off-duty firefighter or EMT risks injury to volunteer in an emergency situation, then such actions cannot be subjected to the Fireman’s rule since the office was not under an obligation to offer help (Berry, 2007). If the offers volunteers while off-duty and are injured in the process, then the rule must not apply. Specifically, officers should be compensated for injuries suffered when rendering off duty aid to victims.   

This exception aim at encouraging qualified personnel to offer requisite assistance even when off duty without fearing any possible injury that may be suffered when volunteering (Haski-Leventhal & McLeigh, 2010). In the Espinoza case, the court used the rescue doctrine that allows injured rescuers to recover tort damages from individuals whose supposed negligence resulted into the inherent need to be rescued and injuries. The Arizona Supreme court made is extremely clear that it was specifically adopting the recue doctrine, and that the EMT’s presence at the scene was not an on-duty obligation (Berry, 2007). Thus, being off duty, Espinoza’s claim could not be restricted by the Fireman’s rule. Instead, the court focused on the reason why Espinoza was at the scene helping the victim, a duty she had not obligation in her capacity as an EMT or firefighter to perform.


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