Translation from English

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fire Law with Curt Varone

PA Chief Terminated For Taking Aerial To Firefighter Funeral

A Pennsylvania Fire Chief has been terminated for taking a ladder truck out of town to a funeral for a firefighter from a neighboring department.
The Slatington Borough Council voted to terminate Fire Chief Keith Weaver for insubordination last week. The vote was 6-1 in favor of termination.
According to the Times News, the Fountain Hill Fire Department requested Slatington Fire Department’s assistance for the funeral of Fountain Hill Fire Lt. Matthew Kuhns on September 24, 2016. Fountain Hill wanted to use the aerial ladder to hang the American flag over the archway of the church where Lt. Kuhns’ funeral was being held in Bethlehem.
Chief Weaver requested permission to take the aerial, but was reportedly denied by the borough. Councilman Jon Rinker was quoted by the Times News as saying “It’s about taking a firetruck out of town. You just don’t do that stuff. I told him you can take your men and go. It was about the truck not taking off.”
According to Rinker, the termination was “for insubordination for Weaver taking the ladder truck out of town when he was not supposed to.” Rinker made the motion to fire the chief.
Deputy Chief Jason Nicholas was appointed acting chief at the same council meeting. More on the story.


Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • mr618
    “You can take your men and go,” but the truck remains here.
    If the volunteer fire department goes to an adjacent town for a firefighter’s funeral, who’s gonna man the aerial if they get a call, the cops? At least if they take the truck with them, they can respond if a call comes in.
    • mr618
      Make sure you read the comments on the linked article. Sounds like a reasonably good chance there was a personal vendetta involved.
  • firemedic5100
    To whom does the truck belong to? Who pays for the fuel, maintenance, and insurance?
    If the answer is the Borough, then they have every right to approve or deny it’s use for things outside it’s intended purpose. The Chief followed proper procedure by requesting permission, and the request was denied. Had a firefighter approached the Chief with a request which was denied, and the firefighter did it anyway, it would be blatant insubordination. This is no different. All of us have someone above us to answer to, including the Fire Chief. It doesn’t matter how noble the cause, when the higher ups say no, no means no.