The Firefighter's Rule

Once in place in most jurisdictions, the firefighter's rule has been eroded by courts and legislatures. New Jersey has abolished the firefighter's rule, by statute, N.J. Stat. Ann. 2A-62A-21, as has Minnesota, Minn. Stat. Ann. 604.06, and Florida, Fla. Stat. Ann. 112.182. California narrowed its scope by statute. California Civil Code Ann. 1714.9. Other states have rejected the rule judicially. See, e.g., Banyai v. Arruda, 799 P.2d 441, 443 (Colo. Ct. App. 1990); Hopkins, 724 N.E.2d at 344 (refusing to apply the rule where legislation did not clearly abolish the common law right of action in negligence); Christensen, 678 P.2d at 1217-18 (stating that public policy does not support the rule); Mull v. Kerstetter, 373 Pa. Super. 228, 540 A.2d 951, 954 (Pa. Super. 1988). Even where the firefighter's rule remains viable, its application precludes recovery only where the risk caused by the defendant is the type that one would reasonably foresee arising in a dangerous situation that the profession requires the plaintiff to encounter. See Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. v. Vierra, 619 A.2d 436, 439 (R.I. 1993).