Hartford Fire Department Reaches Settlement Over Safety Violations

 Officials from the Hartford Fire Department said they have reached a settlement with the state’s OSHA division on violations found in the wake of the first line of duty death the department had in 40 years.

State and federal officials began investigating after firefighter Kevin Bell died in October during a fire on Blue Hills Avenue.

Earlier this month, state labor leaders handed the city citations for five serious violations pertaining to safety issues within the Hartford Fire Department, including with problems with breathing apparatus testing, and outdated air packs

On Friday, leaders from the department said the fines have been reduced 20 percent – from $5,000 to $4,000 -- in response to the department adopting measures to address safety concerns.

When asked why it took the death of a firefighter to address these issues, Fire Chief Carlos Huertas would not answer the question.

His assistant chief remarked that if any department in the country were inspected by OSHA, issues of one manner or another would be found.

The Hartford Fire Department released a statement, saying its highest priority is keeping firefighters safe.

"We believe that we have taken the steps necessary to keep our firefighters as safe as possible. To continue in this effort, Connecticut Occupational Safety and Health (CONN-OSHA) has made recommendations that support our goal of providing the safest working conditions for our brave men and women. We welcome the suggestions and positive recommendations that will collectively ensure we maintain the confidence and trust of our Department and the citizens of Hartford," the statement says.

The fire department will also participating in the CONN-OSHA consultation program to identify possible areas of improvement, according to the fire department statement released on Friday afternoon. 

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