, Newburyport, MA

April 9, 2013

Rowley fire chief on leave after assault

Rowley: Charges stem from incident at fire

By Dave Rogers
Staff Writer

---- — ROWLEY — Fire Chief James Broderick has been suspended from duty after being charged with simple assault and battery for allegedly pushing a probationary firefighter at the station Wednesday.

Broderick is expected to be summonsed to Newburyport District Court for his alleged action, according to police Chief Robert Barker.

“We’re expecting to file charges this afternoon,” Barker said yesterday.

Barker said the charge stems from an argument between Broderick and another firefighter that began at the station after they had returned from extinguishing a shed fire on Wethersfield Street that morning. Barker declined to disclose what prompted Broderick to allegedly push the man, but said it appeared to be a misunderstanding over a job assignment at the fire.

Following the alleged confrontation, the firefighter filed a complaint with police that quickly began an investigation led by Detective Lt. Joseph Gamache. Interviews were conducted Thursday and Friday of last week, Barker said.

“We established what we believed to be probable cause that a physical touching took place,” Barker said.

Rowley Town Administrator Deborah Eagan said Broderick, who has been the town’s fire chief since 1997, was placed on administrative leave on Thursday. Eagan declined to comment further on the charge, calling it a personnel matter.

“And I really can’t comment on personnel matters,” Eagan said.

In addition to Broderick, the small rural department employs two full-time firefighters and 25 paid on-call firefighters. The department has three fire engines, an aerial ladder truck, two brush trucks, a rescue/command vehicle and a utility unit, according to the department’s website. In 2010, Broderick earned a salary of $74,377, according to the town’s annual report.