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John K. Murphy's Blog (84)

Attorneys running your fire department

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. Imagine a fire service world where attorneys or judges are running your fire department.  It is an area which we call the…


Added by John K. Murphy on March 5, 2015 at 2:30pm — No Comments

Fifty Shades of Fire Service Leadership

Ok, there are probably not fifty shades of leadership but there are many shades worthy of some commentary.

One of the most important things a leader can accomplish is to lead from the front and not from your office directing your subordinates “what to do” and “how to do it”. If you have that leadership style, then do it yourself, because you will be continually disappointed in the outcome. A great leader is the “tip of…


Added by John K. Murphy on February 14, 2015 at 6:06pm — No Comments

Facial Hair, Religion and Respiratory Protection

Scenario – A firefighter in recruit academy has a beard based on his religious beliefs and was expelled from the academy based on the fact he could not pass the SCBA fit test due to his facial hair. He was not provided the opportunity to attempt the fit testing process. Is this discrimination?

 The academy rule on facial hair is:

1.4 Facial Hair

All ------- personnel who wear…


Added by John K. Murphy on February 10, 2015 at 10:30pm — 1 Comment

Leadership and Religious Beliefs



Added by John K. Murphy on January 12, 2015 at 1:00pm — 2 Comments

Fire Service Legal Issues – Year End Summary

This year has certainly been interesting related to the legal issues facing the fire service. We continue to see the fire departments in the news for many high profile fires, rescues, service calls and the other good things we do on a daily basis.

We also continue to see the fire departments mired in legal controversies that reduce the effectiveness of organizational cohesiveness and at times polarize our personnel and departments.

We can only read the legal effects of the…


Added by John K. Murphy on December 30, 2014 at 5:30pm — No Comments

Merry Christmas and safe holidays

Merry Christmas to my firefighter brothers and sisters. Stay safe out there.

Added by John K. Murphy on December 24, 2014 at 1:00pm — No Comments

The Night before Christmas at the Fire House, Legally Speaking

Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property in a wintery municipality (hereinafter "the Fire House") a general lack of stirring by all firefighters and creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stocking, socks, bunker boots, etc., had been affixed…


Added by John K. Murphy on December 8, 2014 at 6:00pm — 1 Comment

Hack Attack

Is your fire department or municipality’s server and computer system connected to the Internet?  If so, your computer system is probably being attacked by a hacker as you read this article.

Those hackers are seeking information on your department’s EMS responses, looking at patient records, payroll records, emails, and other proprietary and protected information, if released, may make your organization vulnerable to litigation from your patients or your employees. As…


Added by John K. Murphy on December 2, 2014 at 3:30pm — No Comments

Ethics Lapses in the Fire Service

How do our ethical and moral codes get derailed while we engage in our beloved career on a daily basis? The recent accusations against a Metro Fire Chief Officer for taking equipment, kickback and other  “stuff” gets this individual before a court to answer these charges, possibly with jail time as a remedy and the total destruction of a hard earned reputation. Already the members of the court of public opinion have ruled on this…


Added by John K. Murphy on November 15, 2014 at 4:00pm — No Comments

Assaulting firefighters should be against the law.

The recent spate of assaults against firefighters leads me to believe there ought to be a law against such behavior and the individual assaulting a firefighter should be tossed in jail and the key tossed away.

Assault is defined as intentionally placing another person in reasonable apprehension of immediate bodily harm or intentionally putting another person in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.  No intent to cause physical injury needs to…


Added by John K. Murphy on November 6, 2014 at 12:30pm — No Comments

Hiring Right

The recent defense verdict in Connecticut (Ultegra LLC v. Mystic Fire District No. 3:09-cv-01284 (MPS)) brings to light the need to evaluate your fire departments hiring process used in bringing a new candidate into your organization. There are numerous ways to recruit and hire a qualified volunteer or career firefighter ranging from legacy hiring (a family member nominates the candidate and they are voted in) to a comprehensive hiring process…


Added by John K. Murphy on September 26, 2014 at 12:19pm — No Comments

CNT and CNF and firefighters health.

A health and safety issue when dealing with carbon nanotubes (CNT) and carbon nanofibers (CNF).  Many of do not even think about carbon nonotubes or carbon nanofibers but they represent the newest technology that creates a health hazard for our firefighters. NIOSH 1 rated the health hazards, based on comparison, with silica, asbestos, ultrafine carbon black…


Added by John K. Murphy on September 4, 2014 at 12:55pm — 1 Comment


When you get sued for workplace harassment, discrimination, motor vehicle accident or for any other reason, one of the first things the plaintiff’s lawyer (and your defense counsel) will seek is your departments Personnel Policy Manual, SOG, SOP and Best Practices.

 If you are like most departments, there is a thick layer of dust on the covers or the Word version you used to…


Added by John K. Murphy on August 8, 2014 at 2:55pm — No Comments


We are now all aware that Ebola has become a national topic of discussion especially when there were two infected Americans health care workers flown to Emory University Hospital for treatment; a facility built in collaboration with the CDC. They are apparently doing OK and have been released. We are also fully aware of the high mortality rate of these hemorrhagic fevers up to a 90% mortality rate in affected patients.There are a number of these viral hemorrhagic disease types…


Added by John K. Murphy on August 4, 2014 at 7:00pm — No Comments

Competent, Constant and Transparent Leadership

It is an interesting observation when you see, experience and read about the continued pressure to change the fire services. Many times those pressures are brought externally by politicians and money, internally by personnel, leadership (or lack thereof) and an entrenched bureaucracy unwilling or unable to change. Sometimes change is made by an outside agency such as the Department of Justice.…


Added by John K. Murphy on July 24, 2014 at 1:00pm — No Comments

Independence Day and the Fire Service

Independence Day known as the Fourth of July commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 freeing our county from the “kingdom of Great Britain.” We celebrate this day with fireworks (dearly loved by our firefighters), picnics, family time and other celebratory activities in our communities.

We have to remember that Independence Day was hard fought and won by our forefathers as there was much blood spilled on the…


Added by John K. Murphy on July 3, 2014 at 5:57pm — No Comments

Zero Tolerance for Alcohol and other Intoxicants - Policy Required

As a retired Deputy Fire Chief, Attorney at Law and health care practitioner, I read with great interest the most recent postings on all of the fire service media related to Reno Fire Department's negotiated Policy agreement to allow firefighters to report to duty while impaired. This Policy negotiated in 2002 between labor and the City allows the following levels of drugs and alcohol in a firefighter’s blood (add on descriptors are authors notations):

City of Reno limits for a…


Added by John K. Murphy on June 24, 2014 at 1:30pm — No Comments

Public Safety Employees First Amendment Rights Protected - Stronger Whistleblower Protection

Just when you were thinking you had some protection when you reported wrongdoing in your department, the Supreme Court ruled recently there is a stronger shield for public employees from punishment or terminations if they testified in court against their superiors. As a firefighter, your First Amendment rights protects those who tell the truth and reveal corruption and your First Amendment Rights are found in the Bill of Rights (of the US Constitution) and prohibits the making of any law…


Added by John K. Murphy on June 20, 2014 at 4:14pm — No Comments

Mentorship and Fathers Day

It's not enough to just thank our dads for what they have done for us throughout out lives. We also have to look at how they influenced our lives in the areas of a work ethic, honor, honesty, spirituality, the love of a woman (his wife and my mother) and sportsmanship. One of the most important traits I learned from my father is to pass on your knowledge. He always stated it does no good to hold on to the things you learn. He always shared his knowledge so others may benefit from…


Added by John K. Murphy on June 15, 2014 at 2:39pm — No Comments

Welcome Home Veterans

This Memorial Day brings home the realization that many of us in the fire service are veterans of the military and I thank you for that service.

You bring a new commitment and experience to your communities, again in uniform, with many of the traits you learned during your military service - honor, courage, selfless sacrifice's, commitment and duty.

It is important to remember while serving your community you must bring those hard earned traits to your department teaching the…


Added by John K. Murphy on May 25, 2014 at 11:30am — 1 Comment

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