Freeport fire Chief Darrel Fournier was suspended for two days without pay last week after the town manager and town attorney determined that Fournier’s part-time job with a fire restoration company could have created the appearance of a conflict of interest to the general public.

Town Manager Peter Joseph confirmed the chief’s suspension in an email Monday night to the Portland Press Herald. Joseph said that the suspension of the town’s longtime fire chief was effective Thursday, Jan. 15, and Friday, Jan. 16.

Joseph also emailed a statement regarding the town’s investigation into the controversy, which started when the Press Herald raised questions in late December about the ethics of Fournier’s holding a part-time job with Paul Davis Restoration while serving as Freeport’s full-time fire chief. Paul Davis Restoration is a national franchise that does cleanup work after fires. He was hired to work two days a month last summer to market the company’s services.

Joseph said the suspension was based on an investigation he conducted into the chief’s role in a Dec. 20 house fire on Varney Road in Freeport.

“After looking into the matter and obtaining advice from the town’s attorney, we believe that there was no direct financial conflict of interest,” Joseph said. “However, Chief Fournier’s promotion of an outside company could have created the appearance of a conflict of interest to the general public. As a result, Chief Fournier was issued a two day unpaid suspension.”

“This, combined with his voluntary resignation of the outside employment, 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,” Joseph said in his statement.

Joseph also said in the statement that Fournier will take an extended leave of absence beginning Jan. 19, but the town manager said the leave was approved in advance and is unrelated to the fire chief’s former employment with Paul Davis Restoration. Joseph did not elaborate.

Reached by telephone Monday by the Press Herald, Fournier declined to comment before hanging up.

Fournier’s outside job with Paul Davis Restoration came into question in December after the fire at a two-unit home on Varney Road.

The property’s owner told the Press Herald that a representative from the company arrived at the scene as firefighters were putting out flames and pressured him into boarding up the house. Two days later, Fournier met with the building’s owner, handed him a Paul Davis business card, and suggested the company could help with the cleanup and restoration work.

Fournier has since resigned his job with Paul Davis Restoration but is now under investigation by the Maine Fire Chiefs’ Association.

Brunswick Fire Chief Kenneth Brillant, who is president of the association, said last week that it will examine whether Fournier violated the organization’s professional code of ethics while on duty by promoting a private fire restoration company.

If Fournier is found to have violated the association’s code, he could face private censure, public censure, expulsion from the association, or expulsion with a prohibition against ever rejoining. In the case of a private censure, the public and news media would not be notified.

Fournier has served as Freeport’s fire chief for more than 20 years, and is a 42-year veteran of the fire service.