Legal Aspects Of Fire Protection Final Research Paper

1422 words - 6 pages

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, more and more organizations have found the contract to be a necessary function of business within the fire service. The objectives that a sound mutual aid agreement must cover make them a large document that often requires many hours of time between both organizations to complete. Additionally, a fire department must complete a mutual aid agreement with each jurisdiction that they choose to provide aid to or may receive aid from. The failure to abide by a mutual aid agreement is a breach of legal requirement and an unethical practice of which a fire department and the jurisdiction may be held liable. The complexity of mutual aid agreements has required lawmakers to adopt new laws and regulations that reduce the complexity of the mutual aid agreement, yet continue to provide the level of protections afforded to each participating agency that was contained within the many complex mutual aid agreements. The State of Tennessee, recognizing the problem of both multiple and complex mutual aid agreements, adopted the “Mutual Aid and Emergency and Disaster Assistance Agreement Act of 2004” to provide emergency services agencies in Tennessee a solution to a growing problem (University of Tennessee Institute for Public Service,...

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