Mike Halloran was slinging hose and breathing the black smoke as a firefighter in Clark County just two months ago. Today, a few months from passing the bar exam, he is Columbus' newest assistant city attorney.

Mike Halloran was slinging hose and breathing the black smoke as a firefighter in Clark County just two months ago.

Today, a few months from passing the bar exam, he is Columbus’ newest assistant city attorney.

City Attorney Richard C. Pfeiffer Jr. hired Halloran to improve training and limit lawsuits and internal investigations resulting from firefighter misconduct or mistakes. There’s already a similar post in the Police Division.

Halloran is also charged with helping Fire Chief Gregory A. Paxton set new policies such as spelling out when armed firefighters on the bomb and arson squads can use force and revamping extended-leave policies that have left some firefighters on desk duty for years.

Poor record-keeping, internal investigations and weak or nonexistent policies have plagued the Fire Division recently:

• Arson investigator Jeffrey Smith is under internal investigation for an incident in January when he admitted he pulled a man out of a vehicle at gunpoint while on duty during what police reported was a road-rage incident.

The incident occurred while Paxton and Department of Public Safety officials were developing the division’s first-ever written use-of-force policy.

The division has since adopted a use-of-force policy that requires additional training and certification.

• Paxton and public-safety officials are also drafting a policy on how long firefighters can remain on light duty, working a desk job while they recover from injury.

A recent Dispatch investigation found that a lack of policy allowed some firefighters to stay on light duty for years, costing taxpayers more than $1 million in overtime and wages for firefighters to backfill those positions.

Fire departments around the country have stricter policies that don’t allow firefighters to remain on light duty for more than a year.

• Last year, the division could not account for $5,000 in missing funds from a CPR-training fund because no records were kept.

Pfeiffer said officials hope Halloran’s background as a firefighter will lend credibility to his job duties.“He will be assisting the Fire Division with whatever their needs are, and I believe he is very competent.”

Pfeiffer assigned an attorney to the Division of Police who has developed training videos and training sessions to curb police misconduct and mistakes. Officers have said having a lawyer stationed at police headquarters to answer questions and discuss policy issues has improved policing.

Halloran said his background will help “bridge the gap” between policy and what happens on the street.

“I wasn’t a firefighter in Columbus, so I am still learning their procedures and some language and just how they operate,” said Halloran, 27.

He said his approach to the job will be that the Fire Division is his client and he will help “ facilitate whatever it is our client needs to do.”

Fire Battalion Chief Patrick Ferguson said, “We’d love to have someone like that here at headquarters, but right now we are taking baby steps.

“Having Michael on board and his experiences of being a firefighter has helped, and we’ve had some good conversations with him already.”

Halloran is a certified firefighter until 2016. He said he plans to keep his certification active for many years.

He said he wanted to be a firefighter and paramedic after the 9/11 terrorist attack. He later became interested in policy-making and decided to pursue a law degree from Capital University.

He also has a bachelor’s degree in English and biology from Wittenberg University.