Every day, firefighters respond to calls that require them to enter people’s homes. Occasionally, these entries lead to the discovery of illegal activity. What happens to evidence discovered in this way was the subject of U.S. v. Infante, U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit, No. 11-2156 (2012).
First Amendment cases most frequently arise internally, such as when a fire department member is critical of department management publicly. However, sometimes cases occur when a member of the public claims that remarks directed at fire personnel are protected speech.
If a nonprofit, non-stock membership corporations provides what is often considered to be a public service normally provided by the government, yet is privately owned, should it be treated as a governmental unit? Last year the Connecticut Supreme Court was called upon to make that determination in the case of Mayfield v. Goshen Volunteer Fire Company Inc.
The instances where criminal liability has resulted have tended to arise primarily in the wildland-fire arena. In contrast, criminal charges related to structure fires tend to be rare and randomly scattered throughout the country.
The case of Shanks v. Village of Catskill shows that while the government enjoys significantly greater latitude when it acts in its capacity as employer, the First Amendment nonetheless prohibits it from punishing its employees in retaliation for the content of their protected speech.
Forecasting the future of the volunteer fire and emergency services is no easy task, nor is it an exact science, but there are several trends and challenges within the volunteer sector now that indicate what the future may hold.
Whenever someone is hurt, our nation’s first responders are compelled to rush in to help. I love that about this industry. However, self-deployed first responders also put themselves and the operation at risk unknowingly....More
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