Teaneck Firefighter Lt. Lad Bell will once again be on suspension when he returns to work in June after recovering from an arm injury. The first time he was suspended for picking up a pizza in a firetruck. This time around it is for hammering nails in an asbestos-filled wall.
NorthJersey.com reported that Bell has been on medical leave for an arm injury he suffered in February. In addition to the picture hanging reprimand, he has been told he violated policy by not reporting to his chief on his progress in person.
Bell, a 28-year veteran of the department, claims he has been unable to drive because he lives 22 miles from work and he is taking prescription pain killers. In addition, his left arm is in a cast.
According to NorthJersey.com, Bell said the policy requiring him to report to the chief on his progress in person was last updated in 2003. He said now individuals can check in via smartphones. Bell said he has been in contact with Fire Chief Anthony Verley on the phone on a regular basis and could FaceTime the chief if he wants.
Bell added that Verley should have used his discretion to excuse him from the “antiquated” rule because he is not abusing the system. Verley would not comment on the matter because it involves a personal issue.
On Monday, Bell found out that his attempt to liven up the station by hanging photographs landed him a three-day suspension upon his return to work. According to the department-issued notice, Verley had told him not to hang the pictures because there was asbestos in the stationhouse walls. Bell is denying the notification.
“If that was the case, do you honestly think I would have put myself and others in harm’s way?” Bell said.
The written reprimand regarding the check-in policy said he missed reporting to the chief three times.
The veteran firefighter acknowledges he does not have the best relationship with the department. He sued and successfully challenged his suspension over using a firetruck to pick up a pizza outside of his response area. The fight took two years and $10,000 in legal bills.
In another lawsuit, Bell settled after he and a peer alleged that supervisors harassed them for their allegiance to another firefighter who had filed numerous whistle-blower lawsuits. The firemen were awarded over $200,000.