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No criminal charges against Rowley fire chief

There will be no criminal charges filed against Rowley Fire Chief James Broderick, who was accused of pushing a call firefighter during an argument at the station last month.

Broderick, who remains on paid administrative leave, was accused of simple assault and battery against Andrew Nardone, 23, a probationary call firefighter, during an argument at the station following a fire call on April 3.

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According to Broderick’s attorney, at the conclusion of a hearing held April 24 in Newburyport District Court, Assistant Clerk Magistrate Robert Bonin granted a general continuance, meaning that the case against Broderick would not go forward and no assault charges would be filed. Assistant Clerk Magistrate Rachel Hickey confirmed that a complaint was not issued.

“Chief Broderick just wants to put this matter behind him and wants to go back to work,” said Salisbury defense attorney Nicole Reilly, Broderick’s attorney. Bonin made the decision after what Reilly described as a lengthy session.

While there will be no criminal charges, getting back to work may be a different issue for Broderick, who has been fire chief in Rowley for 15 years. The chief has been on paid administrative leave since April 4 as the town conducts its own investigation.

“It’s still a personnel matter, so I can’t discuss it,” said Town Administrator Deborah Eagan.

Police Chief Robert Barker also declined to comment.

According to previous reports, Nardone was one of eight firefighters who responded to a 9:20 a.m. report of a Wethersfield Street fire that burned down a shed and spread to brush.

It was shortly after the group returned to the station that the alleged incident took place. The firefighters were rigging the truck for the next call. According to previous information supplied by Barker, the chief and the probationary firefighter argued over a duty assignment.

Efforts to reach Nardone were unsuccessful.

Responsibility for operation of the department has been handled by captains Mark Emery and Ron Merry and Deputy Chief Roger Merry, with the two captains splitting administrative duties.

The Rowley Fire Department has three full-time firefighters (the chief and the two captains), supplemented by 25 call firefighters, according to the department website.

Reilly said Broderick was thankful to have received support from community members.

“This has been very upsetting to him,” she said. “He’s a well-respected guy and a nice man.”

David Rattigan may be reached at DRattigan.
Globe@gmail.com.
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