This week’s abrupt retirement of Deputy Fire Chief Timothy J. Moran was related to his unauthorized permission for sportswear-clad models to pose for photographs with fire trucks and other equipment on city property, Mayor Alex B. Morse said Thursday.
Another issue that prompted the retirement was an investigation into Moran’s involvement in an incident a year ago that resulted in criminal charges brought against his brother and former acting chief, William P. Moran, Morse said.
It is unclear how the models wound up at Fire Department headquarters at 600 High St. on June 11. A report that the models were posing for photographs for use in a sports fitness publication could not be confirmed by The Republican.
Timothy Moran was suspended five days without pay by Fire Chief John A. Pond after the chief learned of the photo shoot, the mayor said. Moran appealed the suspension to the Fire Commission, which was already investigating Moran’s part in a June 15, 2011, incident with his brother, Morse said.
“It showed poor judgment on behalf of Deputy Chief Moran, and I stand behind chief Pond’s disciplinary action. I wish Mr. Moran the best of luck in his retirement and thank him for his many years of service,” said Morse.
The mayor defended the department’s professionalism and issued a warning.
“This incident should not taint the hardworking men and women of the Holyoke Fire Department. Such behavior is inappropriate and unacceptable, and such actions will be met with consequences, no matter who you are,” Morse said.
Timothy Moran had served 20 years and one month with the Fire Department before his retirement took effect on Wednesday. His gross earnings in 2011 were $90,324, according to the city’s municipal payroll database available online at MassLive.com.
To a reporter who knocked on the door of his Westfield home seeking comment Thursday, Timothy Moran said, “Get away from me and stay away from me.”
Pond refused to comment when asked what kind of discipline would result if a department employee gave unauthorized approval for models to pose with department equipment, beyond saying such photographs would be unacceptable.
Fire Commission chairman Christopher J. Hopewell said the models posing with department equipment and gear is “unauthorized,” but declined to discuss Moran’s role, citing confidentiality of personnel matters.
“I believe the fire chief took the appropriate actions,” Hopewell said.
On June 15, 2011, William and Timothy Moran were eating lunch at Mrs. Mitchell’s Kitchen, 514 Westfield Road, when William Moran saw firefighters from the station around the corner on Homestead Avenue, entering Strum’s Deli and Meats next door. He called the Fire Department dispatch to report a truck was needed at the Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, knowing that would require that the firefighters scramble to answer the call, officials have said.
During the response, one civilian driver failed to pull over for the fire truck and a four-car accident occurred at Homestead Avenue and Pynchon Road. The driver was treated at Holyoke Medical Center and released.
In a ruling released on Nov. 22, Springfield District Court assistant clerk-magistrate Barbara Y. Burton said William Moran would have to answer criminal charges because sending the truck on a false call put the public in danger. William Moran admitted on April 5 there were sufficient facts to warrant a guilty finding on a charge of making a false fire call, and he agreed to pay $500 in restitution.
Attorney Jorge L. Neves, who was representing Timothy Moran regarding last year’s incident, said on July 14, 2011, that his client acted appropriately that day, telling the two firefighers who were seen at Strum’s Deli to disregard the call his brother had made. That detail is included in a June 27, 2011, statement that Hampden district attorney Mark G. Mastroianni released on the matter.
The fire truck proceeded to the call anyway, stopping in the parking lot of the deli to pick up the two firefighters, who boarded the truck thinking it was headed to a different call, Mastroianni has said.
City Solicitor Elizabeth Rodriguez-Ross said the three-member Fire Commission, which Morse appointed in February shortly after taking office, is investigating last year’s incident.
The reason the previous Fire Commission, which was appointed by Morse’s predecessor, didn’t investigate the incident was because the district attorney requested the commission refrain from such a probe until the resolution of the criminal case against William Moran, Rodriguez-Ross said.
The commission is investigating to determine if any Fire Department rules were violated and all persons involved disciplined, Rodriguez-Ross said.