Parks receives seven-day suspension
Firefighter Wayne Parks, also a football player for the University of New Haven (UNH), was suspended for seven days without pay by the Fairfield Fire Commission. The suspension, decided last week, stems from paid sick leave in the spring, during which time Parks was alleged to have been practicing with the college football team.
However, Parks maintained that he was undergoing rehabilitation to a groin injury with a UNH trainer and was not fit for firefighter duties -- which can include carrying a body out of a burning building -- during the time he was out.
A letter addressed to Parks from the commission states the commission substantiated the following charges:
"� The charge of failure to follow a directive, respond to questions regarding your use of sick time, the nature of your injury, refusing to respond to direct questions, and your ability to participate in football practice. This was substantiated by conduct exhibited in front of the commission.
"� You were dishonest and displayed a lack of candor to the Fire Commission based on your conduct, repeatedly stating that you could not recall days that you practiced as distinguished from days that you did not practice.
"� You were insubordinate and evasive to the commission while answering questions regarding your participation in practice: when asked at the May 14 hearing responded in substance that you were not practicing and were in fact in rehab. By your own admission you were participating in practice. When questioned about your conduct during practice, you refused to do so. You also failed to provide medical information as requested by the commission.
Parks' suspension will begin today and continue through Nov. 2. Fire Commission Chairman Richard Popilowski and and Parks refused to be interviewed for this story. Parks, previously vocal, has been advised to stay quiet by his lawyer Jim Ferguson, who is the attorney for the Fairfield Firefighters Association Local 1426.
Union president Bob Smith told the Fairfield Citizen, "The union, as always, will file whatever paperwork needs to be filed as we would always defend any member's rights."
A grievance will be filed but it is not yet clear at which level -- with the fire commission or with the state Board of Mediation and Arbitration.
"It's up to the attorneys. The attorneys are working something out," said Smith.
A few months back, the commission had actually suspended Parks for three months without pay but Parks returned to work a week or so into that suspension.
"There were certain things that came out in a special meeting that we didn't follow certain procedures properly," said Popilowski. Parks went back to work and the commission essentially had to conduct a "re-do." The re-do resulted in Parks being suspended for seven days.
He will return to work on Nov. 3. Parks, who maintains he did nothing wrong, has stated in the past he will fight the charges all the way to clear his name.