Month: January 2017

Presentation on Social and Digital Media to the Westchester County Assn. of Fire Districts

Yesterday evening I gave a presentation to the Westchester County Association of Fire Districts, meeting at the Katonah Fire House, on legal issues of Fire Department Use of Social and Digital Media.   The commissioners in attendance, and their guests, asked thoughtful questions, some of which have not yet been answered by the courts or the legislature.  A copy of my presentation, as a PDF, is attached.  I can furnish templates of social media policies on request.Menken – Legal Issues – Fire Dept Use of Digital Media – Presentation to the Westchester County Assn. of Fire Districts on January 25,...

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The Legal Argument for Banning Alcohol from the Fire House

This may not be a very popular proposal, but perhaps it’s time for alcohol to be banned from the Fire House.  It may be unpopular, but it might be a good idea from a purely legal perspective.   Each department has to decide for itself how far to go. It’s a really simple fact pattern.  There’s a get-together at the Fire House, after a call, after a meeting or on a weekend.  You innocently and naively opened the beer locker, and gave your friend a few beers. Your friend couldn’t control his drinking, got drunk, got into an accident.  Who is liable? In New York, under the dram shop[1] rules, you are potentially liable, civilly and criminally, even though you didn’t mean any harm and you did not reasonably foresee a problem. The General Obligations Law §11-101, providing for civil liability, states in part that “any person who shall be injured in person, property, means of support, or otherwise by any intoxicated person … shall have a right of action against any person who shall, by unlawful selling to or unlawfully assisting in procuring liquor for such intoxicated person, have caused or contributed to such intoxication; and in any such action such person shall have a right to recover actual and exemplary damages.” That means that the person who was injured, or whose property was destroyed, by the person you...

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What Happens When the Fire Department Goes Bankrupt

At 9 a.m. on February 25, 2014, the Goldens Bridge Fire Department’s fire house burned down.  According to the State Police at the time, the fire was believed to have originated from a faulty electrical connection to a fire truck while parked inside of the firehouse.  It took more than two and a half hours for crews to completely knock down the flames, and when the fire was out the damage was determined to have included not only the building but a $500,000 fire truck and two SUVs. Three years later, after settling with the Goldens Bridge Fire District, its insurance company...

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