At a special Avon Volunteer Fire Department Board of Directors meeting two weeks ago, board members decided to expel longtime firefighter Michael Farrell, 48, from the department.
Farrell, who has been a regular Avon volunteer firefighter since 1983 and first joined the department as a cadet in 1979, had been suspended twice within the past five years. Department policy states that members can be considered for expulsion if they are suspended more than once during a five-year span.
The board voted 4-0 in favor of ratifying the department Disciplinary Review Committee's recommendation to expel Farrell after an internal investigation. Board member and former Fire Chief James DiPace recused himself from the voting process and member Ramona Mansfield abstained from voting.
Most recently, Avon Fire Chief Michael Trick suspended Farrell for 60 days toward the beginning of the summer after Farrell responded to a June 6 call while on medical leave from the department.
Separately, Farrell — recently fired from his full-time job as Waterbury fire captain — is facing workers' compensation fraud and first-degree larceny charges in Waterbury, both considered felonies, in part for responding to the Avon call and at least one other while he was on paid injury from his city job. He received nearly $20,000 in workers' compensation while recovering from a back injury during that time. His next Waterbury Superior Court appearance is Nov. 5 and a judge is reviewing whether to move his case to the high court there for more serious crimes.
The other suspension that factored into his expulsion in Avon was in 2008 after the department learned of an inappropriate comment Farrell, a Company 1 volunteer firefighter at the time, made to two women in the department on March 6, 2006, according to documentation in a Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity (CHRO) complaint Farrell filed against the department in February 2011.
Before Farrell's expulsion, the board recommended to uphold his request to be moved to retirement status at its Oct. 2 meeting. Department members were slated to vote on the recommendation. Their decision is not listed in the fire department corporation or board minutes online. The status of his retirement request is unclear at this time.
Board President Ken Sedlak said that department officials decline to comment further on Farrell.