Hello and welcome to my little blog about the fire service and the law. I sincerely hope you will find it informative, thought provoking, or at least entertaining. If I can accomplish any of those three goals then I will consider this adventure a success. 

This blog is the product of several different things. First, a recognition on my part that over time representing the fire service, many of the same questions/issue come up time and again.  Second, the non-stop encouragement (See: Badgering; hounding) of my colleague Aaron Lukken, author of The Hague Law Blog, who believed beyond a shadow of a doubt I should be blogging, and making my voice heard. Ultimately however, it was the third reason for starting this blog that tipped the scale and sent me over the edge into the blogosphere.  

Every day a new fire chief is appointed somewhere; a new fire board member is appointed/elected, or a new city manager, mayor, council person, etc. Most come to their positions with a wealth of knowledge in something; seldom is that knowledge fire-service specific, and if it is, almost never is it sufficient enough for the task at hand. This is not a knock on anyone; the depth and breadth of knowledge needed to run a fire department or fire district is immense. Admit it: Even those of you who craved the position and felt you were ready to be a fire chief, commissioner, director, etc., were at some point overwhelmed by the things you simply did not, and could not, have known before you took up your position. 

To carry the fire chief example further: It is a fundamental truth that in our system it is practically impossible to fully prepare someone to ascend to the position of fire chief endowed with every bit of knowledge required to be successful. It simply can’t be done; I’ve talked to enough newly promoted chiefs, and it happened to me—and I already had a law degree when I promoted. It is no knock on my former chiefs to say I did not know everything I needed to know before I promoted. Rather, it should be accepted as a truth, and better support networks for the newly promoted chiefs should be created. Because this is another fundamental truth: Once you are the fire chief everyone expects you to have all the answers. So, who do you turn to when you have questions? 

The answer of course is we turn to each other, IF we are willing to ask the questions. But too often we are not willing to risk being the only person in the room who doesn’t know what’s going on (a fatal blow for a fire chief) despite the fact that many times NO ONE in the room knows what’s going on.  We sit around nodding knowingly, wisely stroking our chins and agreeing with whatever is being said, all the while hoping against hope that no one asks us to explain what due process means because we have no idea how to put it into words.

This blog is for everyone who has questions. I will do my best to cover the basics, and translate the legalese.  If you have questions, or an issue you want to see in the blog, let me know and I’ll do my best. In the meantime, stay safe.