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Saturday, December 6, 2014


What is going on at HFD?

The following statement was received from the Hartford Police department late this afternoon after an incident involving two Hartford Lieutenants at a fire scene at 16 Chatham Street:

On December 6, 2014 at 11:56am, the Hartford Fire Department was dispatched to 16 Chatham Street for a working fire. Following the fire, at 1:40pm a Hartford Police Officer was dispatched to the Fire House at 25 Blue Hills Ave. on a report of a disturbance between two Hartford Fire Department Lieutenants.


The incident involves a reported altercation between the two lieutenants at the 16 Chatham Street fire scene. Both the involved Lieutenants and a witness (HFD employee) were interviewed.  Neither of the parties involved wished to press charges. The incident was not in public view.  There were no reported injuries.  The HPD officer documented the incident and his actions. This report will be available through the FOI process. HPD Case# 14-39394.

HFD Chief Carlos Huertas offered the following comment:

“We are a Fire Department as well as a family. The women and men of this department are performing a very technical and dangerous job during the most difficult and stressful of times. Today’s incident only proves that our brave firefighters are human. Rest assure, we will examine this incident and take appropriate action to ensure public safety"

 Chief Huertas, stop making excuses for your Department's childish behavior. Insist that they act like the well paid professionals that the residents of Hartford expect. To the best of my knowledge, the City of Hartford claims to have a zero tolerance policy for work place violence. Enforce it.
I am told that this is not the first incident of Lt. Tyson using violence against a coworker. If he struck Lt Cunningham hard enough to knock his helmet off, that is a violent act that you need to deal with. How long can HPD's PIO be counted on to bail you out with these releases.
And did Waller put in for his overtime to be your shadow at this incident? Did you really need him there sucking up your valuable overtime hours to tell you what to do?
Chief  Huertas, step up and run your department. Don't give the puppetmaster the reason to run you out of 253 High Street.


"Life Safety can not be taken lightly". More prophetic words have probably never been written in a Hartford Fire department incident report. Those words were written by Hartford Fire Department LT. John Nolan on October 5, 2014 in a "HFD Fire Service Report". A fire service report is the term HFD uses for its regular incident reports. Nolan's Fire Service report was written just 2 days before the Blue Hills fire in which Hartford Firefighter Kevin Bell was found dead. No cause for Bells death has been determined as of this time as the Connecticut Medical Examiner awaits toxicology results of testing on Bell's body. There were apparently no visible signs of trauma, heart disease or burns  or life ending damage uncovered during Bell's autopsy

According to sources, Bell was still wearing his Scott Air pack and air mask when his unresponsive body was found almost 10 minutes after he went missing inside the burning building.

Now more questions arise as to what went wrong and what contributed to Bells death. One issue that may have contributed  to Bells death was the condition of the thermal imager used on Engine 16. In e-mails obtained through an FOI request to HFD, it appears that 16's imager was not working properly at the time of the fire. An e-mail sent to Acting Assistant Chief Terry Waller stated on September 24 that the imager  "is an issue and needs repair " the e-mail does not indicate if Waller took any corrective action or responded to replace or repair the unit. One source familiar with HFD operations told me that normally the imager would have been with the Engines Lieutenant  in which case he would have located Bells body within seconds, not almost 10 minutes. In fairness, it is unknown if that delay would have made a difference in Bell's survival. The autopsy apparently, according to sources, did not show any signs of damage, asphyxiation or smoke in Bell's lungs.

Another issue has revolved around Bells air supply. Did he run out of air? In the fire service report below, LT. Nolan reportedly found 2 empty Scott Air tanks on engine 16, amongst other deficiencies that were life safety issues. If a firefighter were to grab an empty or partially filled air tank, that would affect the time they would safely have inside a structure fire breathing the tank air, rather than a full half hour they might only have minutes or less. There is an alarm on the tank that would sound after the tank pressure drops to about 5 minutes or less so the so the users lack of air would be warned first. Bells tank is currently being tested for any deficiencies by an outside agency.

After receiving Nolan's Fire Service Report via e-mail, Huertas instructed Acting Assistant  Chief Waller to look into "this egregious behavior " immediately. Waller acknowledged Huertas "immediate request" the following day . There is no indication as to what action was taken or what Waller did. According to sources, the extent of Waller's actions  to correct the problems at Engine 16 was to disparage and discredit Nolan for apparently "throwing another Lieutenant under the bus" by reporting the life threatening deficiencies to Chief Huertas.

 There is no record of any retraining or discipline for anyone at engine 16 for the incident.

Nolan's Fire Service speaks for itself but it is interesting to note that Waller , apparently, chose not to take any action against the pump operator or anyone else involved in stating that the apparatus was fit for service when it clearly was not

And if you recognize the name of Lt Gregory Simon that Nolan mentions in his fire service report, this may be why. Simon has been the subject of several postings here on the blog after his stellar representation as a member and an officer of the Hartford Fire Department. Read more here or here about LT Simon, an excellent role model for new firefighters. Or even more here



I have received a few calls and e-mails from readers asking me to post the full e-mail strings.Apparently it is difficult to follow the e-mails without readers being able to follow the full conversation. It will take a little more work to print and then scan the e-mails, to be able to post them,  but here you go.


State Statutes have been put on the books over the years to keep politics out of Police hiring. For the most part it has worked. The procedures for background checks, polygraphs, and many other safeguards are in place. A Police Chief in Connecticut is protected by statute and can't be fired on a political whim. By law a Police Chief can only be fired with "just cause " and after a hearing if he or she so requests. So even for political favors, giving away Police jobs still require some standards.
Not so for Fire Fighter jobs.
And upfront, I apologize to those firefighters that think I am painting HFD with too wide a brush. Before getting upset with me, ask yourself if you think there is a problem at HFD and do you think there is leadership in place to address it. Does the recent history embarrass you with what HFD has become?
Any political hack can obtain a fire department job regardless of background, drug use or many of the other disqualifiers imposed on Police positions. Other than training after being hired, there are no statutory requirements .Hartford is the perfect example and the recent history of HFD is showing that. Drug use and sales right out of Fire Houses, gun crimes, DUI's,severe  alcohol abuse, hit and runs by Firefighters,larcenies and the list goes on and on.
This is sad because of the previous proud tradition of the men and women of the Hartford Fire Department. When a call was made to the HFD , you knew you were going to get a Class 1 Fire Department responding. There are still many good firefighters in Hartford, but the bad few are overshadowing the many good ones. This is sadly, from all appearances, being condoned by the administration.
Every firefighter, new and old , deserves to know that the firefighter along side them in a fire is the best qualified candidate that applied for the job. That that firefighter earned their job by being the best trained and most qualified HFD could find. It shouldn't instill any confidence in that firefighter , or their families, to know that the person along side them was hired because they knew how to put up lawn signs for a politicians campaign  or is sleeping with a politician willing to promote them
Chief Huertas needs to grow a backbone. If Terry Waller is qualified to be Assistant Chief, then appoint him and stand by the decision. If Waller is not competent but is being forced on Huertas by Waller's squeeze (SKB) and Segarra, then stand up and say no, actually say "HELL NO" .The lives of Hartford's firefighters are too valuable to be compromised by by political favors.
No job is worth ones integrity, we know Saundra Kee- Borges , Waller and Segarra have no integrity, but don't let them steal yours Chief. Don't let that be your legacy .
Even your predecessor knew when to walk away when SKB made the demands on him in her office at City Hall "You are going to make Terry a Chief, right?" Chief Casares response was reportedly "NO"  You must remember, that's the day Chief Casares announced his retirement and the position opened for you.
 When the Chief starts succumbing to political pressure and knowingly is promoting and hiring unqualified individuals to get the dream job he always wanted, the decay and rot of a once proud organization has begun.
 It is also sad when a Mayor allows his college  study buddy to operate as the puppet master  using City Hall for her own personal gain. I'd love to know what she is holding  over Segarra's head to survive this long. It must be a doozy for Segarra to overlook all the scandals she has dragged him into, seemingly unscathed.
In the meantime we should be happy the puppet master can't get her hooks into HPD. She will have to settle for her and Terry's kids at DPW, 3 are there already

Friday, December 5, 2014


The worst day in any Fire Chief or Police Chief's life has to be the day they lose one of their own. To compound the issue by not doing everything possible to get to the truth and facts of the death and make every attempt to change so it never happens again is absolutely wrong.  I think every Chief has that responsibility and moral obligation as part of their leadership.

I recently had a conversation with Hartford's Fire Chief Carlos Huertas after the death of Firefighter Kevin Bell. Huertas told me that he had formed a Board of Inquiry to look into the death. He had apparently appointed several members to serve on the panel. At the time I commended his efforts and he said all he was interested in was getting to the truth.

Then he stunned me by telling me that he had appointed Deputy Chief Dan Nolan to head the inquiry. I don't mean that in a negative way. Chief Nolan  is probably one of the most, if not the most qualified Fire professional in the State of Connecticut and also in the Military through his military service to our Country.

Dan is not the right person to choose if you want to control the outcome of the message. One thing I have learned about Dan is that he doesn't normally think about the negative repercussions. The truth is the truth with him. You may not like what he is going to say, but he is going to say it to your face, no games, no cover-ups. I have a similar problem so I guess it might be an Irish trait.

I told Huertas I was surprised by his choice since there had been some bad blood between him and Nolan recently. He assured me that they had agreed to "bury the hatchet" and the Board  of Inquiry was the start of a new working relationship between the two. "In fact, I am taking Dan out to lunch next week" Huertas told me to , I guess, convince me that him and Nolan could work together.

An October 9, 2014 email from Nolan to Huertas seems to start the reconciliation process. Nolan wrote to Huertas:
. "I know we have had our differences lately but we need to put them behind us in order to provide the safest environment for the members of this department, please advise me in what direction you would like my involvement to this matter."

He said his instructions to Nolan were clear. Get to the truth wherever it goes, period.  I told Huertas if that was in fact his goal, he had chosen the right guy.Numerous e-mails provided subsequent to an FOI request I made to the City seems to prove otherwise

Apparently that wasn't Huertas's intention though. The lunch never happened, communications between Nolan and Huertas broke down and Nolan was removed by Huertas as the Chairman of the Board of Inquiry. According to several sources, the Board of Inquiry has essentially been shut down. Individuals at City hall were not happy with the direction the investigation was taking and Nolan's attempts to get at the truth.

Deputy Chief Nolan was advised of his removal in an e-mail on November 9, 2014 from Huertas:

Deputy Chief Nolan,
Effective immediately You are no longer the Chair of the Board of Inquiry.
You are still a member of the Board of Inquiry per Department Directive 2.42
but I have reassigned that responsibility to Fire Marshal Roger Martin.

One of those City Hall malcontents forcing Nolan's removal  may have been Corporation Counsel Saundra Kee-Borges. Kee Borges has a vested interest in the outcome of the investigation as she is by many accounts romantically involved with the highest ranking HFD member at the scene of Bell's death, Acting Assistant Fire Chief Terry Waller . Waller is reported to have not followed HFD policy by neglecting to take command of the scene upon his arrival at the Fire as is normal policy. Did Waller's actions cause any behavior that led to Bell's death or the injuries of the other firefighters? We will probably never know without a thorough and legitimate inquiry.

In the e-mail below from Deputy Chief Nolan to Chief Huertas, Nolan apparently is asking to clarify conflicting messages he claims to be getting from Huertas. Nolan is questioning the function of the Board of Inquiry  after Huertas apparently told him to "stand down" due to orders received by the Corporation Counsel. Why would the Corporation Counsel have any involvement in the Inquiry?
Was it to avoid possible embarrassment to the City or was she protecting her love interest?

A more troubling e-mail describes the lengths Kee-Borges would allegedly go to to advance Waller's career. In the e-mail from Nolan to Huertas a disturbing picture is painted of Kee-Borges using her authority to play politics with the Hartford Fire Department. Nolan wrote to Huertas the following:
Chief Huertas, 

I can’t believe you would tell me to address my concerns with Terry Waller. Have you forgotten the conversation I had with you and Leigh Shapiro in your office a few months back, where you informed me that Mayor Segarra and  Saundra Borges were forcing you to make Terry Waller the Assistant Chief or they would not make you the Chief of this department? You then went on to tell me several stories of how incompetent Terry Waller has been in his acting position of Assistant Chief. Now after sharing with me his lack of intellect and abilities you expect me to address my concerns regarding the life safety of our department members with him? How do you rationalize your hypocrisy of addressing the safety of our firefighters directly to me by pawning it off to someone you deemed inept as a leader?  

I will not be contacting him regarding this grave concern for you have made it clear to me that this is far beyond his capabilities. I have tried to reach out the olive branch to you for the betterment and the safety of our firefighters, you have in return have chosen to become my adversary and  refuse to interact with me directly as a competent leader would have.  

I will be contacting OSHA directly on this matter, we will see how you make out pawning Terry Waller on them 


D/C Dan Nolan
Much more to come on this I am sure, keep reading, this is only the beginning


Another thing coming out of Hartford City Hall today should have many people shaking their heads in disbelief.

Apparently Mayor Segarra and his Director of Communications Maribel Laluz have found the hiring of an assistant for Laluz more important than policing Hartford's streets. The Police Academy class that was promised by Segarra to begin in January has apparently been pushed off to at least March from what sources are telling me.

La Luz's new assistant, former Hartford Courant reporter Hilda Munoz starts Monday. Her last day at the Courant was today

Priorities I guess