(Updated) Ongoing Fire Chief Investigation Alarms Volunteers

The chief of the Southington Fire Department remains under investigation and members of Engine Co. 2 are demanding answers.

(Updated, Tuesday at 12 a.m.)
Members of the Southington Board of Fire Commissioners met with concerned volunteers at Engine Co. 2 in Plantsville Monday night, hearing from them after it was determined that a special meeting would not be held this week.

Multiple sources confirmed late Monday that Board Chairman Robert Sherman was uncomfortable in calling a special meeting without Southington Town Attorney Mark Sciota present. Sciota is on a scheduled vacation this week.

In response to reports of the email that was circulated to the media, board members Ann Dandrow, Guss Nevelos and Dolores Longo met with Engine Co. 2 Capt. Richard Kowalec regarding the suspension of volunteer firefighter Steven Bull.

Bull, a daytime firefighter, is on a suspension that was not reported to the board with no indication of when he would return.

"We haven't been kept informed about what's going on," Longo said last week. "When this is done, we are going to have to take a good long look at the process and really make sure nothing like this can ever happen again."

(Original Story, published 12:41 p.m. Monday)

A letter sent to Chief Harold "Buddy" Clark via email last week is demanding answers following a June 11 incident at a fire scene, but those answers don't seem to be coming anytime soon.

Southington police said Monday that an investigation into an assault complaint against Clark is "still ongoing," but members of in Plantsville are upset that Firefighter Steven Bull has remained out-of-duty on suspension since the incident that occurred during a fire along Darling Street.

Several firefighters who were on scene confirmed that Bull and Clark had an altercation that left Bull with minor wrist injuries. Police sources have confirmed that Bull requested an assault investigation following the incident and had gone to a nearby hospital following the incident.

Clark, who is on vacation this week, could not immediately be reached for comment. Bull also could not be reached for comment.

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Fire Capt. Richard Kowalec, a volunteer captain with Engine Co. 2, said in the email that the company wants answers regarding the reason behind the suspension and questioned whether Clark is acting outside the department's proceedures.

"The officers of Engine Co. No. 2 would like to see action on this issue as it is keeping a valuable resource, a daytime firefighter, from responding to assignments," according to the email, which has been leaked to the media.

Kowalec also said in the email that Bull should be entitled to a hearing on the matter if the suspension is going to continue.

Police on Monday would not comment further on the case, but said that it is still "very much open and active."

"All we can say at this time is the investigation into the complaint against the fire chief is ongoing," said Southington Police Sgt. Jeffrey Dobratz.

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Ruth Stanley July 02, 2012 at 10:26 PM
If the VOLUNTEER got suspended, why is the EMPLOYEE not suspended??? This town makes NO SENSE at all. And btw, I do hope Steven is ok. Glad to hear he is still in town, and (yet on hold) still an active volunteer. :)
WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot July 03, 2012 at 04:02 PM
I'm waiting to hear Art Cyr's opinion on this
Tony M July 03, 2012 at 07:54 PM
Don't hold your breath waiting; Art has more important things to comment about.
Philip Short July 04, 2012 at 01:26 AM
I have to chuckle at both above comments. This is town politics. Of course Mr. Cyr has an opinion.
fummin July 04, 2012 at 11:53 AM
... Par for the course. In this town management is NEVER wrong as policy changes like the wind depending on who is involved. I can see this type of incident occurring as Mr. Clark has an "almighty God attitude" and feels he can act as he pleases regardless of any policy or procedure. The lack of leadership qualities he posses is a detriment to this town. ... and that is not based on this incident alone as he has caused issues at emergency scenes before.
E. Megan July 06, 2012 at 03:37 AM
I must say, having grown up in town, I commend the volunteers for their work. Shame on the Chief (who was put in position as a leader based on his responsibility) for appearing to keep this from the Fire Commissioners. I would hope that Mr. Bull is informed of the reason for his suspension AND that it is done in a timely fashion. After all, he is a volunteer and has CHOSEN to look after the well being of the town.


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