Issue 1 and Volume 148.

SOP`S AND LIABILITY BY JOHN T. BENTIVOGLIO The fire service today is confronting what police departments experienced more than 20 years ago: an explosion in costly lawsuits. Fire departments and municipalities have responded, in part, by establishing written standard operating procedures (SOPs) for many operational and administrative matters. SOPs can improve operational performance by providing uniformity in practices, establishing clear lines of responsibility, and enhancing accountability during emergency operations. Through this increased performance and a reduction in operational errors, SOPs also can reduce a department`s exposure to lawsuits. SOPs are not, however, an easy way out of today`s liability dilemma. In fact, poorly written SOPs may actually increase a department`s liability for emergency operations. LAWSUITS FROM EMERGENCY OPERATIONS Lawsuits arising from emergency operations (as opposed to personnel or administrative matters) generally involve claims of “negligence.” In a negligence case, the plaintiff must prove four elements: 1. The fire department owed…

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