Falmouth Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Michael F. Small was placed on paid administrative leave Thursday, four days after he had posted a photo on Facebook that showed him holding an open bottle of beer while seated behind the wheel of a car.
Falmouth Town Manager Julian M. Suso said Dep. Chief Small had been placed on paid administrative leave late Thursday during a meeting with himself, Falmouth Fire Chief Mark D. Sullivan and a union representative.
Under the terms of the town’s collective bargaining agreement, Mr. Suso could not say why Dep. Chief Small had been placed on administrative leave.
But Mr. Suso and Fire Chief Sullivan issued a joint statement on Thursday afternoon describing the Facebook post. “An incident recently arose in which a high-ranking officer within the Falmouth Fire Department placed information including a photograph on the internet in which he portrayed himself as consuming alcohol within a motor vehicle,” they wrote.
“The paramedics and emergency medical technicians within the Falmouth Fire Department are periodically called upon to respond via ambulance to accident scenes involving tragic consequences related to inappropriate and irresponsible consumption of alcohol,” they wrote. “The Town of Falmouth views drinking and driving, and any action that gives the appearance of endorsing it, as completely unacceptable.”
Mr. Suso said the matter remains under review and investigation and there is no timetable for the investigation to be complete.
Dep. Chief Small posted the photograph on his personal Facebook page at about 2 PM on Sunday, June 2. In the photograph, Dep. Chief Small is holding a Samuel Adams beer in his right hand and the steering wheel in his left hand. It is unclear from the photograph if the car is moving. The caption next to the photograph referenced “drinking roadies.”
On Monday the photograph was brought to the attention of the Enterprise, which in turn asked Chief Sullivan about it. At that time, Chief Sullivan said he would review his options and speak to Deputy Chief Small on Wednesday when he returned to work.
A few hours after the Enterprise contacted Chief Sullivan, the post was removed from Dep. Chief Small’s Facebook account. He has since deleted his account from Facebook.
Attempts to contact Dep. Chief Small were unsuccessful.