Law for the Fire Service

I.     Course Prefix/Number: FIR 245

       Course Name: Law for the Fire Service

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite

FIR101 - Introduction to Fire Science

III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course introduces legal aspects of fire science. Contents include study of judicial system; civil and criminal actions; legal status of fire department; jurisdiction and liability of fire prevention bureaus; municipal responsibility to and for fire fighters; authority and liability of fire fighters; law and arson investigation; techniques for testifying in court; and compensation, pension and termination of employment of fire fighters.

IV.   Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:
  1. Discuss Federal, State, and local laws and liabilities and the types of public accountability laws and how they apply to the fire service.
  2. Identify the Federal harassment, discrimination, labor and leave laws that are applicable to the fire service.
  3. Recognize the legal issues and concerns affecting emergency services and how court decisions that have influenced emergency services.
  4. Describe the administrative agencies that exist at the Federal, state, and local levels that assist Fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
  5. Define the different types of laws.
  6. Discuss federal, state, and local laws and liabilities applicable to emergency services.
  7. Explain the purpose of national codes and standards.
  8. Discuss applicable court decisions that have influenced emergency services.
  9. Recognize the legal issues and concerns affecting emergency services.
  10. Explain why the jurisdiction of the federal courts is limited, but the jurisdiction of state courts is general.
  11. Distinguish between fire departments based upon the type of entity, type of fire department organization, the funding source, and the employment status of the firefighters.
  12. Describe the administrative agencies that exist at the federal, state, and local levels.
  13. Explain the jurisdiction of Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) and OSHA’s three primary activities.
  14. Explain the constitutional limitations upon a firefighter conducting a cause and origin determination as part of an investigation.
  15. Discuss the concepts of duty, standard of care, breach, damages, and proximate cause as related to negligence. 
  16. Describe the difference between discretionary acts and functionary acts, and governmental function and proprietary function, and how the difference influences immunity protection.
  17. Identify types of contracts commonly associated with the fire service.
  18. Define the primary differences between private sector labor relations and public sector labor relations.
  19. Identify the major employment discrimination laws influencing the fire service.
  20. Identify the Federal harassment and discrimination laws that are applicable to the fire service.
  21. Identify the Federal labor and leave laws that are applicable to the fire service.
  22. Identify the most common types of public accountability laws and define their applicability to the fire service.
  23. Identify the tools a state health agency, responsible for Emergency Medical Services (EMS), uses to manage EMS.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

  1. The Legal System of the United States
  2. Legal Entities and the Judicial System
  3. Laws, National Standards, Regulations, and Consensus Standards
  4. Criminal Law
  5. Civil Law
  6. Contracts
  7. Patient Privacy and EMS Care-Related Laws
  8. Transparency, Technology, and Intellectual Property
  9. Civil Rights in Employment Law
  10. Employee Safety, Health, and Benefits
  11. The Employer-Employee Relationship
  12. Responsibility to the Community

VII.  Methods of Instruction

  • Lectures
  • Handouts
  • Videos
  • Class Discussion
  • Group Discussion
  • Individual Presentations
  • Case reviews

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Group Participation
  • Class Discussion
  • Individual Presentations
  • Practical Exercises
  • Written Exam

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

Legal Aspects of Emergency Services, 2016, West, G., Jones and Bartlett ISBN-13: 9781284068276

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

Quizzes 20 points
Homework 10 points
Project 10 points
Case Study 10 points
Exams 50 points
Total 100 points

XI.   Other Course Information

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.