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Edmond firefighters' claims lead to fire chief being disciplined

Claims of a hostile work environment, corruption and coercion were filed against Edmond, Oklahoma, Fire Chief Jake Rhoades. An internal investigation ended with the fire chief being disciplined.
by Diana Baldwin Published: July 7, 2014

— The city’s fire chief has been hit with unspecified discipline after an internal investigation sparked by formal complaints filed by three firefighters, a city official confirmed.

The firefighters leveled complaints of a hostile work environment, corruption and coercion against Fire Chief Jake Rhoades.

The Oklahoman obtained copies of two of the three formal complaints. They include a claim that Rhoades said Battalion Chief Keith Randolph “should threaten to kill (Capt.) Vince Pfeiffer,” a 31-year veteran of the Edmond Fire Department.

One of the complaints was filed by Pfeiffer, who discussed his complaint with The Oklahoman. He said the two firefighters who filed the other complaints did not want to talk about the investigation.

The fire chief was accused of calling firefighters names and of trying to coerce and intimidate department members into “making sure their memory was correct” regarding incidents involving the chief, one of the complaints states.

Edmond City Manager Larry Stevens said he met with the firefighters Monday to notify them of the results of the two-month-long internal investigation. Stevens declined to reveal the nature of the discipline.

“A hostile work environment wasn’t substantiated,” Stevens said. “I can’t talk about it; it is a personnel issue.”

“I did take disciplinary action. I took the action that I thought was appropriate.”

Rhoades, who has been fire chief since November 2012, was not put on administrative leave during the investigation and was at work on Monday.

When reached by phone, Rhoades said he had no comment. He deferred all questions to the city manager.

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by Diana Baldwin
Sr. Reporter
Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976 and came to The Oklahoman in 1991. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote...
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