The last three years at the mostly volunteer Pascoag Fire Department have been eventful. A sexual harassment lawsuit, a fire truck taken for a joy ride, a firefighter accused of exposing himself, and now a controversy over a fired firefighter.
Thursday evening, across from the fire house, firefighters, mainly from other districts and towns, rallied around fired Pascoag Lt. Edward Blanchard and the chief who quit in support of him.
Blanchard, who is also a town councilman in Burrillville, was fired by the Pascoag fire board of commissioners, apparently in part because he gave what were deemed personnel records to a firefighter who had been fired.
Blanchard told NBC10, "Every time they give a reason or excuse like giving paperwork to one specific individual, to me it's not rational."
The individual Blanchard said he gave paperwork to was Adam Lee, who was in the news last year for allegedly exposing himself to other firefighters while they were off-duty, an accusation Lee denied.
Blanchard said he gave Lee his training certifications, not what he would classify as personnel records. "They can spin it whatever way they want, but you can't segregate people from information that belongs to them."
Fire Chief Benny Colon quit in protest after Blanchard was fired. "It was my decision to keep him and the fire board wanted him gone," Colon told NBC10. "If Eddy had done something wrong I would have taken action on it, but he did nothing wrong."
Fire Capt. Keith Carter is on the other side of the debate. "It's absolutely lies," Carter told NBC10. "I been here 27 years, in the Pascoag Fire District we do not give out personnel records. He was not fired injustly."
The chairman of the fire board has not returned NBC10's call for comment.
Blanchard says he has a petition calling for the board to reconsider its decision to fire him.