HARTFORD--Tension between high-ranking officers within the Hartford Fire Department took center stage during a Fire Department Task Force meeting Thursday.
Newly appointed interim Assistant Chief Scott Brady ordered Deputy Chief of Training Dan Nolan to “return to training” as Nolan was being approached by several members of the media.
“No, you just don’t want me to address what’s happening in the fire department,” Nolan said.
Nolan and Chief Carlos Huertas testified before the Task Force on the issue of training. Both men agreed that the division does not have enough staff and that is where the common ground stopped.
Nolan and Huertas sparred over the issue of communication.
“Chief Huertas and I do not communicate whatsoever and for the last 4 or 5 months, only by email and most of those emails aren’t responded to,” Nolan said.
“The content of the emails I get, it's like I’m answering to him. I’m the chief. He's the deputy chief of training and he's a support function,” Huertas countered.
The task force, consisting of four former fire chiefs and the Hartford police chief, was formed by the mayor after a slew of issues plagued the department. Several firefighters were arrested for alcohol related offenses in the last year. The department was also dealt its first death in the line of duty in 20 years when firefighter Kevin Bell died in October.
Nolan told reporters he believes the greatest challenge to the department faces is weak management.
"It doesn’t take a board to figure out that the leadership needs to change,” he said.
Huertas initially would not specify what he thought the department’s greatest challenge was.
"There’s a gamut of things. I can’t pick out one thing. I'd have to really, really sit down and research and prioritize what I think they are.” However, he ultimately pointed to training. “If I have to prioritize I would say training,” Huertas said.