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A Windsor fire captain was fired Tuesday as the result of a fight last month with a fellow captain following an awards banquet and night of drinking.

Troy Collier, 41, the son of fire chief Ron Collier, was dismissed because of the altercation with Capt. Ron Busch, according to the attorney for the Windsor Fire Protection District.

The fight erupted inside a limousine when Collier put his arm around Busch's wife, said a report filed by the Windsor Police Department.

Both men were intoxicated and with their wives at the time, according to the Windsor police officer who interviewed them on the night of the Feb. 24 altercation.

Neither apparently required medical treatment, although Collier had a cut on his forehead and also complained Busch bit his hand, according to the police report.

Busch, 40, complained that his lip was injured by Collier.

Both men were put on administrative leave with pay immediately following the incident. But after the fire district hired a private investigator to look into the incident, Busch was allowed to return to duty and Collier was fired from his $74,500 a year job.

The disciplinary action taken by Battalion Chief Matt Gustafson came after the chief recused himself from the incident involving his son.

Troy Collier intends to "vigorously" appeal the firing, according to his attorney, Michael Biggs.

"Capt. Collier has never been disciplined or stood accused of misconduct in his entire 16-year career at the Windsor Fire Protection District," he said in a written statement.

He said Collier has an exemplary record, "but has been very active in union activities."

Both Colliers were involved in a lawsuit filed by a fire district secretary in 1998 who claimed she was the victim of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

She claimed firefighters and their supervisors used obscene language, made lewd comments about women, screened pornographic films in the firehouse and posted offensive cartoons on the bulletin board. She alleged that Chief Collier and his son were the worst offenders.

The fire district denied any wrongdoing, but its insurance carrier settled the case for $550,000.

Bill Arnone, attorney for the fire district, said Tuesday that Troy Collier was terminated due to the fight with his colleague.

After interviewing both fire captains and their wives, Police Officer Donald Fletcher's report indicates Busch was the one who began the physical altercation.

But Arnone said that given the fact Busch kept his job and Collier didn't, "a determination was made there were different levels of culpability."

Biggs said that the incident in the limousine occurred with 13 passengers "packed in like sardines ... and an open wet bar." They were traveling to Patterson's Pub "after an afternoon and night of ongoing, heavy drinking by off-duty members of the Windsor Fire Protection District."

The limo had left Charlie's Grill at the Windsor Golf Course, where the annual volunteer firefighters association awards dinner was held.

"The limousine was occupied by firemen and their wives and girlfriends," Biggs said.

According to the police report, Collier's wife said Busch was angry with Collier for putting his arm around Busch's wife.

She said the alleged assault occurred somewhere on the freeway and the limousine driver pulled over into a downtown parking lot and everyone got out.

That's when the Windsor Police officer came by and suspected a disturbance.

After noticing the blood on Collier's face and interviewing people about what happened, Officer Fletcher said Collier initially said he did not want Busch arrested for assault.

Biggs said it was his client, Collier, who was "thrashed" in the altercation, but at the time Collier viewed it as "a drunken incident" and hoped to work it out the next day.

He insisted Collier was wrongfully terminated, noting he was off-duty, yet is accused of violating a standard of conduct involving workplace violence.

Busch did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Chief Collier said he has stayed out of the personnel issue because it involves his son.

"This is a bump for us. Every department has personnel issues pop up on the radar and we're dealing with it."

But later in the day Tuesday, when the disciplinary action was disclosed, Chief Collier said his son's firing was justified. "It's very clear this was way across the line. We would fire anybody who did this," he said.

Pat McDowell, president of the fire board, said he did not know details of the incident, or whether it is having an impact on fire district morale.

The disciplinary action comes as Windsor's fire district is doubling its paid staff and planning a new fire house, the result of the successful parcel tax vote in November.

One district employee said business is going on as usual and firefighters have not lost sight of their goal to provide service to the community.

Rick Olufs, another board member, said: "We're kind of left in the dark. There are so many stories flying around."

The fire board is in line to hear an appeal of the disciplinary action after it is appealed to Collier's superiors.

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