Legal issues are a necessary function of the fire service as with any business, therefore long term strategies must be established that ensure compliance with mandated regulations and laws. The legal issues a fire department may face can fill volumes of books, perhaps even a library, however a plan of action must be established to avoid legal repercussions for the fire department and/or its members. Common legal issues should be addressed within the fire department standard operating guidelines or procedures and newly arising issues should be viewed carefully before a plan of action is developed. Court decisions have been rendered that negatively affect jurisdictions, fire departments, and its members in ways that range from fines up to criminal prosecution. It is the responsibility of the fire department to be a good steward of the community and tax payer funds and therefore, develop policies and procedures that will responsibly protect the jurisdiction, fire department, community, and its members from legal consequences of violating laws and regulations.
Mutual aid agreements are one of many legal issues a fire department may encounter during the course of business. “For many years, these agreements were informal, and often were not in writing” (Varone, 2012, p. 346). The written mutual aid agreement defines objectives such as, who will be in command, the level of assistance to be provided, who will cover damages or injuries, billing issues, how long the aid can be provided, who will provide food and shelter as well as overtime pay, who will backfill, and liability, amongst many other issues associated with providing and/or accepting mutual aid (Varone, 2012). Due to the legal coverage provided within a mutual aid agreement, m...
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...ith Disabilities Act (ADA). “The ADA does not specifically require employers to provide medical or disability-related leave” (United States Department of Labor, n.d., para. 9).
United States Department of Labor. (n.d.). Employment laws: medical and disability-related leave. Retrieved from http://www.dol.gov/odep/pubs/fact/employ.htm
University of Tennessee Health Science Center. (2007). Confidentiality. Retrieved from http://www.uthsc.edu/Medicine/legaledu/UT/factsheets/Confidentiality.pdf
University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service. (2004, June 25). Mutual aid and emergency and disaster assistance agreement act of 2004 [Press release]. Retrieved from http://www.ctas.tennessee.edu/PUBLIC/web/ctas.nsf/0/39A89BC37A34C2F586256EBE006EC22A
Varone, J. C. (2012). Legal considerations for fire & emergency services (2nd ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar.
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