Hartford fire officials trade verbal jabs at task force meeting

Hartford Fire Chief Carlos Huertas and Asst. Fire Chief Daniel Nolan at April hearing (WTNH)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The fire task force investigating Hartford firefighter Kevin Bell’s death had its final meeting Thursday. A final report wasn’t delivered, but the chief explained what he thinks the needs of his department are.

Bad blood was evident between high-ranking Hartford fire officials Thursday. The first verbal jab came from Deputy Chief Daniel Nolan, in charge of the department’s training regiment. He says there is no communication whatsoever between Chief Carlos Huertas and himself.

“I’ve been reaching out, but received no response back,” said Deputy Chief Nolan. “In order for training to be effective, we have to have solid communication between division head and the chief of department. That isn’t happening whatsoever.”

The comments came during a meeting with the Hartford Fire Task Force, appointed in December to analyze what’s wrong within the department in response to Bell’s death. He died in the line of duty last October.

“Deputy Chief Nolan likes for me to elaborate,” said Chief Huertas. “The content of emails I get, it’s like I’m answering to him. I’m the chief, he’s deputy chief of training and he’s a support function.”

Nolan went on to criticize the entire task force, made up of former Hartford fire chiefs. He says those former chiefs are directly responsible for many of the problems that the department is now facing, and that the department needs new leadership.

“Until that changes, we’re in trouble,” said Deputy Chief Nolan. “We’ve been accidentally successful over last several years that more injuries and deaths haven’t taken place.”

The panel will make recommendations to the mayor within the month. Chief Huertas says right now the main problems he faces are with Nolan’s training department, and staffing.

“There’s dire need for accountability in the training division to make sure we hold them to task for the training regiments,” said Chief Huertas.

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