Hartford Deputy Fire Chief on Leave After Criticizing Leadership

A deputy chief in the Hartford Fire Department has been placed on leave after clashing with the chief at a fire task force meeting last Thursday, according to his attorney.

Deputy Chief of Training Daniel Nolan criticized Chief Carlos Huertas, telling the task force there is a lack of communication between the two and that the chief's orders are ineffective, "especially when they're unlawful and they jeopardize the safety of our firefighters."

New Interim Asst. Chief Scott Brady confronted Nolan after the meeting and asked him to "return to training" and avoid speaking with the media. The chief and his public information officer, however, pulled Brady away, and Nolan continued to criticize his superior.

"Despite our personal differences, I mean, it doesn't take a board to figure out that the leadership needs to be changed in the fire department," Nolan told reporters following the incident.

Nolan also singled out two retired chiefs who sit on the task force, Edward Casares and Charles Teale, saying the politician promotions and hiring that occurred under their watch are to blame for a number of the fire department's current problems.

"Their credibility is lacking for the most part, in my opinion, and they shouldn't be advising anyone," he said after the meeting.

Huertas refuted Nolan's claims and said he planned to address the situation.

"I take exception to Dan Nolan's comments, but that's something that I'll have to deal internally with," Huertas said.

Nolan was placed on administrative leave after the meeting, according to his attorney. 

"D/C Dan Nolan has been placed on Administrative Leave with Pay today pending an investigation into an incident that occurred during and immediately following the Task Force meeting on Thursday, April 16, 2015," fire department spokesperson Capt. Helene Lynch said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

Lynch said Nolan must be available during his regular hours and is not permitted to visit any fire department location unless the chief grants permission.

"I'm sure the chief and his team had to do what they thought was appropriate," said Hartford City Councilman Ken Kennedy. "The unlawfulness of the commands, obviously that's surprising, and obviously the administration and council will look into whether that is, in fact, accurate."

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