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Sorry, forgot to post this month's magazine commentary. Thanks for the gentle nudge by Chief Murphy:)

Not sure what else to say about this piece other than it's a "sign of the times". The fear of litigation may be pushing many Dept policies, but I'm not sure what choice the policy makers have. Lawsuits, legitimate and frivolous, are a driving force within our SOPs because of knee-jerk reactions, consequence of legal action, or prevention of possible legal action. What are some of your thoughts and/or experiences?

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Comment by Jeff Schwering on July 26, 2010 at 1:25pm
I agree with Chief Murphy Paul, as always a great illustration to bring things to the forefront! We really need to clean up our own backyards first, much easier said than done. This would prevent knee jerk reactions, that only wave a red flag, telling an attorney, hey, look at me stupid, no offense intended Chief!
Comment by Mike France on July 26, 2010 at 8:44am
I like this one , How true
Comment by Christopher Drake on July 24, 2010 at 1:41pm
Well said, Chief.
Comment by John K. Murphy on July 24, 2010 at 1:27pm
This is a great illustration from an attorney’s perspective. What we are observing across the country related to litigation (and the humongous awards) involving the fire service has been created by its own membership. There are sexual harassment, hostile workplace and discrimination claims; there are reverse discrimination and failure to hire claims; there are unauthorized releases of medical information and HIPAA claims, there are EMS malpractice claims and apparatus accident claims as well as many other examples. We do not see a lot of litigation related to our fire prevention, suppression and rescue responses.

I agree with you that we can possibly prevent these claims with proactive policy, SOG’s and education for all of the activities of our fire departments; but what may be far more effective is a fairness and civility policy that may eliminate a vast number of in-house lawsuits.

Yes, there are unscrupulous attorneys that are quick to take advantage of our services but we place ourselves in harms way through the lack of a comprehensive policy, a failure to enforce policy or the failure to comply with prevailing laws.

Through the use of knowledgeable and experienced fire service attorneys, there can be creation of policy and SOG’s and the training and education that must accompany those polices. You cannot create a policy for everything; however, we can educate our firefighters and fire chiefs that doing the right thing IS the right thing, educate our firefighters and fire chiefs as to the prevailing laws, standards and policy and let’s clean up our own house first keeping those attorneys away from the firehouse.

Thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront.
Comment by Christopher Drake on July 24, 2010 at 11:38am
I agree, Paul. Unfortunately, this extends into our own families as well as those we serve. With the establishment of the PSOB, SPOs must be written and followed. Without them, PSOB benefits could be witheld for either not following protocol, or not having an SOP in place which follows NFPA recommendations. Just a thought.

And I've seen attorneys actually had out business cards at accident scenes.

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