Firehouse is proud to announce the newest members to be inducted into the Firehouse Hall of Fame: Steve Austin and J. Curtis Varone. They will be honored during the Opening Ceremonies at Firehouse Expo on Oct. 30, 2020, at 5:30 p.m. at Nashville’s Music City Center.
“Steve and Curt have focused on improving their local fire departments and advancing the safety and health of our nation’s fire service throughout their distinguished careers,” said Firehouse Editor-in-Chief Peter Matthews. “Steve has spent more than 40 years improving accreditation for training organizations and instructing on firefighter safety at roadway operations. Curt has provided the fire service with a better understanding of legal issues, including FLSA, social media and liability.”Austin joined the fire service in 1963 and served as a volunteer firefighter in four different states. He served as president of the Delaware Volunteer
As one of the first contributing editors for Firehouse.com, Austin has written articles, spoke at Firehouse Expo and assisted with guiding Firehouse’s content direction for more than 35 years.
“Steve has been critical in shaping the fire service we know today at both the local and national levels,” Matthews said. “His unwavering commitment to firefighter safety helped develop the Emergency Responder Safety Institute that is focused on the safety of fire and emergency crews working on roadways—which was one of the leading causes of firefighter injuries and deaths in 2019.”
“In 1976, upon reading the first edition of Firehouse Magazine, my eyes were opened to the fire service world outside my home company,” Austin said. “In Firehouse, I read the words of some of the greatest firefighters to have ever worn the uniform. I never thought for a moment, that I would have the opportunity in my career to write for the magazine much less to become friends with many of these legends. That led to working on safety, health, and professional development issues together. To follow some of these leaders into the Firehouse Hall of Fame is a humbling experience.”
In 2008, Varone retired from the Providence Fire Department as a deputy assistant chief and then became the director of the Public Fire Protection Division at the NFPA. He also became more active with the Exeter, RI, Fire Department, where he now serves as deputy chief. He currently practices law in Maine and Rhode Island and lectures extensively on legal issues in the fire service. He is the author of Legal Considerations for Fire & Emergency Services and runs Fire Law Blog.
Varone has been a Firehouse contributing editor, writing the Fire Law column for many years. Each year, Varone’s classrooms at Firehouse Expo and Firehouse World are filled with firefighters.
“Over the years, Curt has provided a unique perspective when it comes to legal issues concerning the fire service,” Matthews said. “Myriad fire departments and individual firefighters have sought Curt’s expertise in understanding laws, statutes and their rights.”
“It is an incredible honor and truly humbling to be considered to be among the greats of our profession,” Varone said. “There are plenty of folks like me who combine a love for the grunt work of being a firefighter with the intellectual challenge of dealing with our legal system, elected officials and the media. It takes both to move our profession forward. I hope others will be encouraged to pursue advanced degrees and perhaps become firefighter-attorneys themselves.”
To be inducted into the Firehouse Hall of Fame, members must have 20 years of service and demonstrated accomplishments in the advancement of the fire service.
Following are the Firehouse Hall of Fame inductees since the program’s inception in 2015:
James P. Smith
Francis L. Brannigan
Dr. Harry Carter
John J. Salka Jr.