NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) – The suspected overdose death of an off-duty New Britain firefighter prompted a months-long investigation into drug use within the department. The city found some firefighters were using both on-and-off shifts, leading to the suspension of seven firefighters and the firing of another.

“You need to come to work every day and be at your best,” said Mayor Erin Stewart, of New Britain. “If you’re not at your best, I can’t have you here.”

Stewart said they’ve been working since June 2019 to reach an agreement with the Fire Union on a drug testing policy. One day before a final meeting on the matter, back in January of this year, the mayor said they lost firefighter Matthew Dizney to a suspected drug overdose. He was off-duty at the time.

“[It] made a lot of us stop and think about what we were doing, and the impact it needed to have on the department,” said Mayor Stewart. “It also uncovered a lot more that we were unaware of that was going on within the rank and file, and some higher ranks, of our fire department.”

In the termination of employment letter for former fire Lt. Michael Yagmin, the mayor said he was “knowingly supplying, giving, selling, sharing, and using illegal drugs” and was untruthful about it.

​The mayor added, that in looking into this from an administrative perspective, they found seven other firefighters who could have been involved.

“Those seven individuals were truthful; they came forward and they told us about some of their battles with substance use and some of the battles they previously had,” said Stewart. “All of them were suspended unpaid for 30 days. We had them all sign last-chance agreements. They’re all on probation for the next three years. They’re all unable to be promoted during that time and they are all subject to random drug testing over the next few years.”

These firefighters were also transferred to different firehouses and additional department-wide training has been held. As far as the criminal investigation goes, Stewart said none of these department members are facing charges.

“The police department was looking for the guy who was selling the drugs, not exchanging between one another,” said Stewart.

Now, they’re making sure everyone knows resources are in place.

“We’ll support you, but we certainly are going to hold you accountable for this,” said Fire Chief Raul Ortiz, of the New Britain Fire Department.

New Britain Fire Chief Raul Ortiz said the culture within the department is changing and what happened in the past won’t happen again.

“We own this, we’ll do better,” said Ortiz. “As a department, we will address this head-on. They can continue to have faith this department still has the most upmost delivery of services that’s come to be expected in New Britain.”

The mayor said they haven’t reached an agreement with the Fire Union on a drug testing policy, but she’s hoping they will soon. If not, Stewart said they’ll handle this matter in court.

News 8 reached out to the Fire Union for a comment, but we have not heard back.