Kansas State Association of Fire Chiefs

Fire Training Liabilities

Fire departments are continually under the threat of litigation from the public and at times our own firefighters or their families. Training accidents resulting in death or injury of a firefighter will cause an investigation by an outside agency and possible litigation involving the department and staff members. This class is designed to educate training officers, Fire Chiefs and firefighters in providing safe training and to avoid legal landmines. This class will review the applicable NFPA training standards, review NIOSH investigations of firefighter deaths caused by training, analyze recent national incidents causing firefighter fatalities and injuries on the training ground; analyze three case law related to training fatalities and to provide a risk analysis and best practices from the legal standpoint for participants.


Behind Closed Doors – Fire Department Liabilities

The fire services is a dynamic and ever changing industry. Unfortunately we have more internal lawsuits than the general public looking for a legal solution to our actions. Laws provide consistencies and guidelines describing what the proper conduct accepted by societal norms. Break the law and suffer the penalties. The Fire Service is certainly bound by those laws and constitutional protections, yet we find a way to violate many of the legal protections related to our employees, our communities and at times society as a whole. Many times it is related to the ignorance of the law by our leaders or permissive behaviors by our firefighters or an issue of time, money and personnel. This presentation is intended to review the emerging issues affecting the fire service behind closed doors and discuss the process of managing and avoiding risk; understanding your professional and personal accountabilities; your supervisory responsibilities to the department and to assist your firefighters with knowledge of the established law and the use of well written policies. Equally important is your responsibility in creating a safe place for your firefighters on the emergency scene and in the fire station.


The Presenter




John K. Murphy, J.D. M.S, PA-C, EFO,  a career firefighter beginning his fire service as a Firefighter/Paramedic and retiring as a Deputy Fire Chief after 32 years of service.  Mr. Murphy is an attorney licensed in Washington focusing on firefighter health & safety, firefighter risk management, employment practices liability, employment policy, internal investigations, expert witness and litigation support and consulting on risk management for fire departments. He was a US Navy Corpsman.

He is a frequent lecturer, educator, author, legal columnist, blogger and member of Fire Engineering’s - Fire Service Court Blog Talk Radio Show. He is also a Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) presenter, lecturer at the IAFC Fire Rescue International (FRI), Women in Fire (formerly Iwomen’s) Conference’s and is a National Fire Academy (NFA) Instructor. Mr. Murphy has spoken at numerous local and national Fire and EMS conferences and for individual fire departments and emergency service organizations. He is a member and the legal counsel for International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI).


Mr. Murphy authored an EMS text book entitled Legal, Political and Regulatory Environment of EMS and co-authored: Cooling the Flames: Verbal De-escalation of Mentally Ill and Aggressive Patients. A Comprehensive Guidebook for Firefighters and Emergency Medical Services.


He is a distance learning instructor at the University of Florida Fire and Emergency Services (FES) programs.




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