Hartford Deputy Fire Chief Suspended Without Pay

Hartford Fire Department Deputy Chief Dan Nolan has been suspended 30 days without pay in connection with his fiery testimony before a panel investigating issues within the department, including the death of firefighter Kevin Bell, earlier this year, sources tell the NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters.

Nolan was allowed to testify by his department at the panel's meeting April 16, where he likened the fire chief to "Bambi" when it came to upholding department standards.

He was placed on administrative leave and was cited for disobedience and failing to report for duty, in all likelihood because he did not leave the hearing after making his comments, as he was ordered to by Asst. Chief Scott Brady.

Nolan did not immediately return to work after the meeting, which he had been instructed to do. Fire Chief Carlos Huertas said Nolan did not follow orders and was not authorized to miss work.

Nolan was informed of his suspension Wednesday in a letter from Huertas, who said he considers Nolan's "violations (of department rules and regulations) to be serious and unacceptable."

"Your egregious actions on April 16, 2015 are directly contrary to your duties and responsibilities, undermine the command structure of your organization and set a poor example for other Department members," Huertas wrote.

Nolan's suspension is effective Tuesday, July 28 and will last 30 days through Wednesday, Aug. 26, according to the letter from Huertas.

"I advise you to explore all options that may assist you in making better decisions as a sworn member and chief officer of the Hartford Fire Department. Your conduct was unacceptable and poorly reflects on the proud tradition of the Hartford Fire Department. Further indiscretions by you will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination," the chief added.

Nolan's attorney, Mario Cerame, said his client is being unfairly punished for expressing his viewpoint and is planning to sue the fire department and several staff members, including the chief. Cerame said the litigation he plans to file Monday will also address Nolan's removal as head of the department's Board of Inquiry.

Vincent Fusco, president of the Hartford firefighters' union, said the union has filed a grievance concerning Nolan's suspension, which he says was enacted without just cause.

A spokesperson for the mayor's office declined to comment Thursday. The fire department did not return repeated requests for comment.

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