Freeport Fire Chief Darrel Fournier served a two-day unpaid suspension Thursday and Friday, after Town Manager Peter Joseph determined Fournier’s previous part-time employment by a fire damage restoration company could have created “the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

Fournier, who has been Freeport’s fire chief for a total of more than 20 years, has since voluntarily resigned from the company, Joseph said Thursday in a written statement.

Questions about a potential conflict of interest arose following a Dec. 20 fire at Varney Square apartments, after which Fournier suggested to the owners, Freeport Housing Trust, they hire the company for which he worked, Paul Davis Restoration, The Forecaster reported.

Fournier told The Forecaster he worked for Davis on days off from his longtime job as the town’s fire chief. He said he did not believe there was any conflict of interest but understood that others might see it differently.

Freeport’s personnel code states that no full-time town employee may hold another full-time job, unless the town manager or the employer’s department head is notified. The code doesn’t address part-time jobs.

On Thursday, Joseph wrote that, based on his investigation of the circumstances and advice from the town’s attorney, he does not believe Fournier’s second job represented a “direct financial conflict of interest.”

“However, Chief Fournier’s promotion of an outside company could have created the appearance of a conflict of interest to the general public,” Joseph wrote. He continued that Fournier’s resignation from Paul Davis Restoration and the two-day suspension “leads me to believe that Chief Fournier has taken adequate steps to address the situation and to ensure that this will not be an issue moving forward.”

Referring to media reports Fournier would take an extended medical leave beginning today, Joseph wrote, “it should be noted that this leave was approved in advance and is unrelated to the matter described above.”

Joseph said in an email to the Bangor Daily News on Monday that Fournier served the two-day suspension on Thursday and Friday.

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