Pascoag firefighter fired; Chief resigns in protest
BURRILLVILLE, R.I. —
The fire chief of Pascoag quit in protest, saying one of his men was wrongly fired.
"I didn't quit of health issues. I quit because of what they did," former Chief Benny Colon said Wednesday.
Colon said he's angry Pascoag Fire District commissioners overruled him in April and decided to fire Lt. Edward Blanchard.
The commissioners unanimously stood by the decision Tuesday, when that firefighter and the union appealed the termination.
NBC 10 did some digging and learned according to the by-laws on the district's website, the fire chief is the person with the power to suspend firefighters.
"We have an agreement, a tentative agreement, for a process of termination, and the board isn't even following that," Blanchard said.
Blanchard said the commission brought two accusations against him.
They said he was insubordinate, and they accused him of giving personnel records to controversial former fire captain and fire marshal, Adam Lee.
Blanchard said he only gave Lee training records. As the training officer, Blanchard thought that was his job.
Blanchard and Colon said they don't believe this termination is what it seems. They said they believe something bigger is at play -- possibly a move toward consolidating local fire districts.
"I'm on the executive board for the union going through these negotiations. And I think before there is a set process that they're going to have to follow. They want to get rid of the squeaky wheel," Blanchard said.
The former chief said he hopes his stand will help Blanchard as he takes this fight to the state labor board.
"I felt that what I did was right. I stand behind the guys and that's all there is," Colon said.
Although Blanchard was fired from his paid job, he is allowed to work as a volunteer firefighter.
NBC 10 was unable to reach the commissioners for comment.