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Apparatus crashes, possible termination follow newly promoted Calif. captain

The Sacramento Fire Department Accident Review Board found that in one crash a spotter was not used while backing up


By Theresa Clift
The Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A City of Sacramento firefighter was promoted to captain in April, despite crashing city vehicles three times since 2021.

In April 2021, Keith Jeske was driving an ambulance on the Sacramento International Airport tarmac when he reversed and hit the top rear corner of an overhead structure, states an October 2021 disciplinary letter. Under department policy, Jeske should have had at least one other person outside guiding him while he reversed, the letter states. The letter was obtained by The Sacramento Bee from a California Public Records Act request.

About two months after the incident at the airport, in December 2021, Jeske got into another collision. While backing a firetruck into a station in south Sacramento’s Parkway neighborhood, he left the telescoping light in the up position, causing it to crash into the station’s rain gutter, an August 2022 disciplinary letter states. Both the light and rain gutter were damaged.

Less than a year later, in November 2022, Jeske got in another collision. He was driving a firetruck on a call when the light bar struck the door of the same station, the May 2023 disciplinary letter states. It damaged both the engine and the door. Department protocol is to wait until the door opens fully before driving through it.

Jeske did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The first letter was signed by former Fire Chief Gary Loesch, and the second by Assistant City Manager Leyne Milstein, then serving as interim fire chief. The third was signed by Fire Chief Chris Costamagna.

The department disciplined Jeske with a suspension of one shift for the rain gutter incident — the one signed by Milstein. For the others, he was formally reprimanded without further penalties.

The first two letters include a statement from Jaske in which he admits to the accident, where the third does not.

Further misconduct could lead to additional discipline including termination, the letters states.

The Accident Review Board deemed all three collisions were chargeable, and all of them caused monetary damage to taxpayers.


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Jeske, who has been with the department since 2016, was promoted to captain in April 2023, the latest letter stated. The promotion was after the three collisions. His base salary is $153,907.

The city declined comment because it does not comment on individual personnel matters, city spokesman Tim Swanson said.

It’s unclear if Jeske has been written up previously. Under the city’s contract with the firefighter union, Local 522, disciplinary records are pulled from personnel files after 18 months.

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