Bath firefighter on paid leave after OUI charge

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BATH — The city has placed one of its firefighters on indefinite leave after he was arrested Sept. 6 on a charge of drunken driving.

James Perry, 56, of 1542 Washington St., was among officers who responded to 1495 Washington St. to search for a missing swimmer. Deputy Chief Bob Savary said some officers who interacted with Perry said they detected signs he was impaired.

After further investigation, Officer John Dietlin arrested Perry on a charge of operating under the influence.

Although he has been employed by the city since 2006, Perry was not working as a city firefighter/paramedic, but for Mid Coast Hospital, using its “Fly Car.”

The car was parked at Perry’s home, less than half a mile from the site of the call. The missing person was found later that day.

Perry was released on personal recognizance bail set by Bail Commissioner David Beauregard, and has a court date of Nov. 6. Savary said Wednesday that he is not aware of Perry having any prior convictions.

He has been placed on paid leave by the city, and unpaid leave by Mid Coast Hospital.

Erika Helgerson, the city’s human resources director, said Tuesday that the city must follow its own guidelines and policies, procedures within the fire union, Fire Department policies, and federal and state employment law. The city must also take into account the human impact, and public safety, she added.

City Manager Peter Owen said Tuesday “we need more information before we can make a decision” whether to continue Perry’s employment.

“We take these matters very seriously,” Judith Kelch, the hospital’s director of marketing communications, said in a statement Tuesday. “Upon learning of the incident, Mid Coast Hospital immediately placed James Perry on administrative leave. He is not currently an active employee of Mid Coast Hospital.”

Kelch declined Wednesday to comment further on Mid Coast’s procedures concerning such situations.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.


A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.