Fox CT investigates: HFD lieutenant reassigned day he returned from city-paid training seminar

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HARTFORD – The chief of the Hartford Fire Department sent an email detailing a list of potential reasons for reassigning the department’s newly appointed public information officer, Lt. Raul Ortiz, on the same day Ortiz returned from a city-paid media training trip.

The email sent by Hartford Fire Chief Carlos Huertas, which can be found in its entity below, had the subject line: “Interview to determine if I keep him or send him back to the line.”

Ortiz was removed from his position as Hartford Fire Department PIO on February 6. According to documents obtained by Fox CT through a Freedom of Information Act request, Ortiz returned from a four-day “PIO boot camp seminar” on February 6. The cost of the trip totaled roughly $1,500, not including meals or Ortiz’s salary.

In his email, Chief Huertas detailed 16 reasons why he potentially would send Ortiz “back to the line” of duty. They included questions such as, “Why is the refrigerator at Engine 5 not working?” “Did you order uniforms for yourself?” and “Why did it take 3 days to get the garbage out of the EOC?”

The chief also questioned whether Ortiz took pictures of “evidence” after Hartford Fire Capt. William Pond admitted to stealing and burning pictures of Hartford’s historic circus fire. “Were you at Engine 14 during the removal of Hartford Circus Fore [sic] photos by Captain Pond? Did you take photos of the frame that they were taken from? Why didn’t you notify me that the photos existed,” the chief wrote.

The Hartford Fire Department has not returned a request for comment on this story.

For more on the controversy that has surrounded the department over the last several months, click here, and the unedited copy of Huertas’ email can be found below:

huertas email

  1. Were you at Engine 14 during the removal of Hartford Circus Fore photos by Captain Pond? Did you take photos of the frame that they were taken from? Why didn’t you notify me that the photos existed
  2. Envelope that you said you gave to Alvin was sitting on your desk. Please explain.
  3. Why is the refrigerator at Engine 5 not working?
  4. Did you order uniforms for yourself?
  5. Overtime for the Budget Kick – you were supposed to be there and were not present.
  6. When you are not here you have transfer your duties to someone else. Don’t assume that your duties will be fill by anyone else, automatically. Did you leave a message on your phone and email that you would not be available for a week?
  7. FOI’s who is in charge? Did you have a verbal transfer of responsibilities?
  8. Why did it take 3 days to get the garbage out of the EOC?
  9. Texting and driving? Please does not drive while texting?
  10. Did you tell Chief Martin that he should go pick up Cinque Scott gear because he was on overtime.
  11. It got to my ears that, “you regret being here, that it was a bad career move?
  12. Went to Jimmy for help regarding CIP/ EOC
  13. The Police Department Sergeant Brian Bowsza- regarding the ID’s for all personnel.
  14. Took photos at E-14 regarding Captain Ponds conduct. Why didn’t you call this District 1.
  15. Order of uniforms for yourself without my approval.
  16. Establish a check list of work assignments for Alvin Akry work assignments
  17. Purchasing items without my approval.

When I hear initially you were interested in coming up here it was Terry Waller who suggested you come up.

I was concern because I know you had issued with the previous Chief. But I believe in giving people a second chance, but you deliberately fail to follow thru with assignments that jeopardize operations and compromise ethical standards.

If you don’t know what that means let me put it in Black and White:

  1. You were given CERT papers to be delivered to 360 Board Street. I ask you did you delivered them and you said yes and that you gave them to Alvin for delivery. I found the papers on your desk that same night .
  2. You took photos of what Captain Pond and you fail to provide me with this information – you have evidence and didn’t share it with me.
  3. You ordered unauthorized personal items and charged it to the department without my approval in addition to ordering for other personnel.

These purchases have already been investigated.

And for the record – you are a Lieutenant – you don’t delegate your work to me.