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Code 3 Podcast: What happens to firefighters if qualified immunity goes away?

Attorney and volunteer firefighter Brad Pinsky explains qualified immunity protections and whether firefighters and medics could be sued as individuals


If you’re a firefighter or medic, especially a volunteer, you’re able to do your job because the law grants you the ability to do it without fear of legal reprisal if someone decides you made a mistake. That’s thanks to “qualified immunity” laws.

But two states have passed new laws that have the effect of eliminating that protection. And it could mean firefighters and medics in those states are in major legal trouble if a taxpayer believes they did something wrong. They could be individually sued.

Today’s guest on the show is Brad Pinsky, an attorney in Syracuse, New York, who specializes in first responder legal issues. He’s also a volunteer firefighter, and the author of the “Fire Department Law and Management Resource Manual” and the “Fire Service Secretary & Treasurer’s Manual.”

Read next: Qualified immunity: How it impacts firefighters and fire departments

Code 3 is hosted by award-winning journalist Scott Orr, who has covered the fire/EMS/police beat for most of his 30-plus year career in news. He’s worked around the country in both TV and print. Orr was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease over a decade ago, but that doesn’t stop him from interviewing fire service leaders on issues that concern firefighters around the nation.