Secret audio recordings: Hartford Fire chief discusses ‘deal’ that got him his position

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

HARTFORD – Hartford Fire Chief Carlos Huertas and Deputy Chief Dan Nolan talk about a scenario where the chief got his position through a possible “deal” involving promoting a lower ranking officer, according to secret audio recordings obtained by Fox CT.

Part one: Secret recordings reveal safety concerns in Hartford Fire Department

The lower ranking officer is Terry Waller, the former interim assistant chief and fiancé of Sandra Kee Borges, who held different roles for the city over the years, including chief operating office, corporation counsel and consultant. Waller served in the assistant role while the city searched for a full-time candidate.

“Well, you know the reason I got this position was I got force fed,” Huertas told Nolan in the recordings.

“You got force fed Terry Waller,” Nolan said.

“Yea, yea, him,” Huertas responded.

“As an acting and then you have to make him assistant chief?” Nolan continued.

Later in the conversation, Huertas calls Waller “insubordinate,” “a challenge,” and references a deal.

“So I said to him, let me tell you something, I don't give a s--- what deal was made. You're interim. I'll send your a-- back to the line. I don't give a f---. And now, granted, I won't get s--- done because the council is going to f------ deny me everything. But at that point,” Huertas said.

“At least you have your honor,” Nolan continued.

“That's right. I tried. But I'm giving him a shot. I said to him, 'all I need you to do is follow what I say to you.' And that's basically it, so. But, he's a challenge. There's no question,” the chief concluded.

For our complete coverage of the issues plaguing the Hartford Fire Department over the past year, click here.

Last August, a posting for the assistant chief position came with a city residency requirement, which had never been asked for before. Waller, who lives in Hartford, was the only applicant eligible for the job. City critics, including political bloggers, cried nepotism, and the requirement was removed.

In January, a fire captain also accused Waller of threatening him with retaliation if he testified about another firefighter with a history of alcohol abuse on the job. A city hall report called the incident “inappropriate” but not a “threat.”

In January, Waller stepped down from the job of interim assistant chief. He retired in July.

In response to a request for comment, Terry Waller told Fox CT, “I’m not the assistant chief. I was never the assistant chief. And, if that was the deal, it obviously never materialized.”

In response to the story, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra sent a statement:

This is more about an old quarrel and personality conflict between people who are no longer with us. We need to move away from this historical negativity and leave the juvenile finger pointing in the past. We are well aware of the issues that have plagued the department in the past and have taken actions to correct them. This is not the same department it was a year ago. We are moving forward quickly in new direction. It would be inappropriate to speak specifically about any past issues as some individuals have ongoing litigation with the city. I’ll gladly speak about some of the great things we’re doing to move forward.

Chief Carlos Huertas also released a statement:

There is always a need for more money and resources and every fire department faces financial challenges, especially those in urban environments. The mayor and City Council have been sensitive to the requirements of the Hartford Fire Department and continue to work with us to improve the Department’s ability to protect our families, residents and visitors and have since authorized the hiring of a new Assistant Fire Chief and nine additional positions in the Fire Prevention Bureau which will be filled once the promotional process is completed.