Danvers fires fire chief for ‘conduct unbecoming’

The town of Danvers has fired Kevin P. Farrell as its fire chief for “conduct unbecoming’’ of his position, officials said.

Farrell, 52, was terminated on Monday for reasons “brought on by Mr. Farrell’s own conduct and a series of poor decisions on his part,’’ Town Manager Steve Bartha said in a statement.

Farrell, a 27-year veteran of the North Shore department, was placed on leave July 27 for undisclosed reasons. He did not immediately return a call to his cellphone seeking comment from the Globe.

In his statement, Bartha said the state’s public records law prevent him from releasing his written decision to dismiss Farrell. But the reasons would become public if Farrell files an appeal with the state’s Civil Service Commission.


Brendan Moss, a civil service spokesman, said on Tuesday that the commission had not yet received an appeal filed on behalf of Farrell.

Farrell’s termination came a little over three years after he was arrested on a domestic violence charge at his home in Groveland.

He was charged with assault and battery, and witness intimidation, in an incident involving his then-estranged wife. He was placed on administrative leave for his job as chief.

But the charges were later dropped, and Farrell returned to his position as chief in October, 2012.

Stephen Delaney, the town’s human resources officer, would not comment Tuesday on whether Farrell’s dismissal is related to the domestic violence charges. Bartha, who is on vacation, was not available for further comment.

“Given that it’s a personal matter, and I can tell you that I’ve been involved in the process from the beginning,’’ Delaney, who is acting as town manager in Bartha’s absence. “This is uncomfortable for all of us. This is something that all of us didn’t really want to have happen.’’

Details would become public only if Farrell files an appeal with civil service, Delaney said.

“He [Farrell] can appeal the termination to the civil service state commission, and in that case most if not all of the details would become available,’’ Delaney added.


Deputy Chief James McPherson, who is now serving as acting chief, declined to comment on the specifics of Farrell’s termination.

“It’s unfortunate,’’ McPherson, a 31-year department veteran said Tuesday afternoon. “When he was working at the station, he was a good chief.’’

McPherson said he hopes to reassure the town’s nearly 27,000 residents that the 51-member department is committed to good public service.

“We’ve got a great group of senior guys and officers,’’ McPherson said. “To a man, everyone has stepped up. The citizens are safe, and we’re moving forward.’’

Farrell, a Danvers native, joined the department in 1988 as a firefighter. He was later promoted to lieutenant. He was named deputy fire chief in 2005, and acting chief in 2010, following the retirement of then Chief James Tutko. He was named permanent chief in 2011.

In 2007, Farrell accepted a state “Special Fire Marshal’s Award,’’ on behalf of the Danvers Fire Department, which was honored for its “sustained professionalism, bravery and compassion,’’ displayed during its response to a chemical plant explosion in November 2006 that destroyed several homes in the town’s Danversport neighborhood.

“He showed great leadership during that incident and the months afterward,’’ McPherson said.

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