Denver’s fire chief resigns amid controversy over firefighter parties

The most recent controversy involved jokes about sex toys at a union-sponsored ball last weekend


By Laura French

DENVER — Denver’s fire chief has submitted his resignation amid controversy over firefighter parties featuring crude humor and sex toys.

Fire Chief Eric Tade will leave his position on March 16 but continue serving as assistant chief, according to CBS4.

Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade has resigned amid controversy over two fire union events featuring crude humor and sex toys. Tade will leave his current role on March 16 but remain at the department as assistant chief. (Photo/Denver Fire Department)
Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade has resigned amid controversy over two fire union events featuring crude humor and sex toys. Tade will leave his current role on March 16 but remain at the department as assistant chief. (Photo/Denver Fire Department)

The announcement follows controversy over last weekend’s annual Firefighters Ball co-sponsored by the city’s fire union. A comedian at the event told jokes about sex toys, echoing an incident from last year’s gala where sex toys were raffled off as prizes.

“Last year, I promised you, the Mayor, that the nature surrounding 2019 Denver Firefighters Local 858 and Protective Associations’ Firefighters Annual Ball, Retiree Banquet and Awards Ceremony would not occur again. Strategies were implemented and assurances were made to prevent these actions from being repeated,” Tade wrote in his resignation letter, which was submitted on Monday. “Unfortunately, this year’s event did not live up to those expectations or mine. New strategies and a fresh perspective are beneficial to foster continued improvement. In that, I have offered to step down as Chief of the Department.”

The sex toy raffle at the 2019 event was condemned as inappropriate and unprofessional by both Tade and other city officials after photos of firefighters posing with the toys in a photo booth surfaced.

Denver Firefighters Local 858 released a statement Tuesday, saying, “Last year we had an unfortunate event from a small group of attendees that detracted from the true cause of the Gala. We made a concerted effort in planning the 2020 Gala to correct the issues from last year. Unfortunately, our efforts were not enough. The behavior displayed by some at this year’s Gala was not acceptable. Local 858 takes full responsibility and apologizes for the actions.”

The union also announced that its PR director, who also emceed at the event, was removed from his position.

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