The Edmond Sun

Local News

July 16, 2014

City manager names acting fire chief

Chief Jake Rhoades placed on administrative leave

EDMOND — City Manager Larry Stevens named Doug Hall on Wednesday as acting Edmond Fire Department chief one day after placing Chief Jake Rhoades on administrative leave.

The city manager is continuing to review additional information he received Monday regarding complaints filed against Rhoades by three members of the Edmond Fire Department.

After receiving the new information, reportedly an audio recording, Stevens placed Rhoades on paid leave effective Tuesday morning. Stevens has not set a timeline for how long Rhoades will be on leave, saying he’s not sure how long it will take to investigate the new information.

“However, I want to complete my investigation in a reasonable time frame, which in this situation could be two to three weeks,” Stevens told The Edmond Sun.

“Beyond this information it would be inappropriate for me to comment on a personnel matter,” Stevens said.

Last week, when contacted by The Edmond Sun, Rhoades declined comment. In October 2012, Rhoades began his tenure as fire chief, and his annual salary is $124,603.

In a previous report, Capt. Vince Pfeiffer, a 31-year veteran with the Edmond Fire Department, said he was not satisfied with the city manager’s initial response to allegations of a hostile work environment, threats and intimidation. Pfeiffer said he discussed the matter with counsel and decided to take further action.

Efforts to gain further comment from Pfeiffer have not been successful.

Initially, Rhoades was formally disciplined concerning the complaints by three firefighters of alleging the fire chief has created a hostile work environment. At the time, Stevens declined to comment on the specifics of the complaints or the disciplinary action.

“I took the action that I felt was appropriate after a thorough investigation and review of the complaints,” Stevens said in a previous report.

Stevens said his actions included hiring an outside entity to conduct an independent review and to prepare a formal report. Stevens said he met with Rhoades and reviewed the action with him, and he also met with the three individuals who filed complaints and shared the same information.

Stevens declined to share or discuss the report, but did say the basic complaints of a hostile work environment were not substantiated.

The city has denied an Edmond Sun Open Records Act request for documents related to the complaints. City spokesman Casey Moore said he checked with personnel who cited a provision in the law regarding internal personnel investigations as being confidential and not subject to release.

Moore said there is no Edmond Police Department investigation related to the allegations.

Rhoades’ listed previous positions were deputy fire chief for the Rogers Fire Department, assistant fire chief for Jenks Fire Rescue and training officer for the Stillwater Fire Department. The Edmond fire chief reports to the city manager.

marks@edmondsun.com | 341-2121, ext. 108

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