Area Fire Official Axed After Probe Into Sexual Harassment

Vernon Deputy Fire Marshal William Call was fired Monday after an investigation found, among other violations, that he shared a pornographic video on his cellphone with town staff while on the job, according to documents obtained through a freedom of information request.

It’s not clear exactly who Call showed the video to, however.

A former Hartford firefighter, Call also works as a deputy fire marshal for the Bolton Fire Department.

Call could not be reached for comment this morning. Bolton Fire Chief Bruce Dixon declined to comment.

Call’s termination from the Vernon Fire Department comes after he was demoted from the position of acting fire marshal in that town earlier this year, when an investigation determined that he made lewd comments and gestures to several town Building Department employees.

In a Nov. 26 letter to Call, Assistant Town Administrator Dawn Maselek said that the prior investigation was reopened because of a new allegation against Call. The second accusation did not spur a separate investigation because of the timing of the alleged additional incident, meaning that a last chance agreement Call signed earlier this year would not be affected, Maselek wrote.

However, Maselek wrote that during the reopened investigation, which found that Call did show the video, Call displayed “hostility” and “lack of candor,” which she called “a terminable offense in itself.”

Maselek wrote that she also found that Call had violated personnel rules by accepting a part-time position with the town of Bolton without asking for permission from Town Administrator Michael Purcaro. Additionally, Maselek said, Call lied to his supervisor about his outside employment, only admitting the truth when his supervisor told him he already knew he had accepted another job.

“This lack of candor expressly violates your last chance agreement, and through knowingly violating this agreement, leads me to believe you are beyond rehabilitation,” Maselek wrote.

Call had an opportunity to make the case for his continued employment with the town of Vernon the week after that correspondence at a Dec. 5 employment hearing. According to a Dec. 9 letter from Purcaro to Call informing him of his termination, Call did not present evidence disputing his violation of his last chance agreement and personnel rules.

In that letter, Purcaro wrote that performance concerns were raised during the sexual harassment investigation.

Purcaro said Call had failed to follow up on inspections that found fire code violations and, when acting Fire Marshal Daniel Wasilewski inquired about them, Call told Wasilewski that he did not understand how to proceed.

“This is an indication that you failed to perform, or are incapable of performing, the key essential job functions outlined in your job description relative to fire safety,” Purcaro said.

Call, who joined the Fire Department about 47 years ago, was appointed to the position of Vernon fire chief in 2007.

Citing complaints about Call’s leadership, town officials asked him to resign in early 2016, he said at the time, though he disputed the claim that there was widespread concern about his performance within the Fire Department. He ultimately resigned as chief in June of that year and was hired as deputy fire marshal for Vernon the following month before being appointed interim fire marshal in that town last December.

Vernon Fire Chief Stephen Eppler said Call is still a member of the town’s volunteer Fire Department in a non-supervisory support role.

Eppler said Call’s firing is a town matter separate from the volunteer department, and he declined to comment further.

Call retired from the Hartford Fire Department in 2009 after spending over 20 years working for that agency, where he attained the rank of captain.


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