Four members of the Billerica Fire Department in Massachusetts are on leave pending an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct, the town confirms.
Town Manager John Curran says those four employees may not be the only ones involved. He heard rumors of misconduct beginning in the summer of 2016, finally getting enough proof to launch an investigation in January.
"There's no question in my mind that whatever has transpired has had an impact on morale [and] focus in the fire department," Curran said during a press conference Wednesday. "That's a great concern to me and to the chief. We want to make sure that we can deliver the highest level of public safety service to the town."
Authorities said that three male firefighters and one female fire dispatcher were involved. The employees will face disciplinary hearings later this month and could be terminated. Details about the alleged acts and the names of the employees are not being released at this time.
More information could come out of administrative hearings, including whether members of the fire department knew of the situation and did not come forward. Curran said additional employees could face disciplinary action, including management.
"It is apparent from the level of investigation that has already taken place that the mid-level command staff is often unclear of what their role is from a management and command perspective," Curran said in a statement released earlier Wednesday. "Under the direction of Chief Thomas Conway, the town will restructure the mid-level command staff of the fire department to ensure that there is greater opportunity for broad based management experience."
Additionally, the town has scheduled a series of management training sessions to address misconduct, with all fire department staff being retained for training to prevent sexual harassment. A new visitor policy has been put in place, effective immediately.