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Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade Resigns After Bawdy Firefighters Ball

DENVER (CBS4) - Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade has resigned his position with the Denver Fire Department. Tade gave his resignation to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday afternoon.

"Chief Tade is dedicated to this department, and his decision that new leadership was needed reflects his devotion to the men and women who serve our residents in the Denver Fire Department," Mayor Hancock said in a statement. "When the Chief told me it was time for a new set of eyes, as difficult of a decision as that was, I knew he meant it, and I let him know that I appreciated his courage and wisdom in recognizing that it was time for a change."

Eric Tade
Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade (credit: CBS)

Tade will continue to serve in the Denver Fire Department as Assistant Chief. He will leave his position as Chief on March 16.

"It has been an honor to serve the people of Denver as their Fire Chief, and I want to thank them, the department and the mayor for this opportunity to lead one of the premier fire departments in the country," Chief Tade said in a statement. "It's the right time to step back and bring in new leadership to implement new strategies and a fresh perspective to foster continued improvement. That's what the men and women of this department deserve, and I remain committed to this department and the people we serve every day."

The reason for his resignation was not provided by the city, but multiple sources familiar with the situation tell CBS4 his departure from the role of Chief is related to a union-sponsored firefighters ball last weekend that featured coarse humor and sexual innuendos for the second year in a row.

However several sources say Tade's job announcement is related to the most recent Firefighters Ball which was held last Saturday at a downtown Denver hotel. The firefighters union, local 858, had said in advance that the party would be "the night of your life."

Several attendees told CBS4 an emcee at the event and a comedian joked at length about sex toys, a topic that caused problems at the same event a year ago.

In his resignation letter to Hancock dated Feb. 24, Tade wrote, "Last year, I promised you, the Mayor, that the nature surrounding the 2019 Denver Firefightres 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. Unfortunately, this year's event did not prove to 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 to the Mayor for consideration."

Denver Fire Fighters Local 858 released a statement on Tuesday afternoon, which read in part, Denver Fire Fighters host an Annual Gala to foster the unity of our membership and highlight the work we do in our community every day. 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 these actions. In response, on Monday, February 24th Local 858 Leadership removed the PR Director and Gala emcee from his position. It is imperative that every member and guest feels comfortable and welcome at all Union-sponsored activities.

In 2019, at the party, a sex toy was apparently raffled off at the annual Denver Fire Department gala, prompting Tade and other city officials to condemn the action as inappropriate, unprofessional and of poor judgment, after photos emerged of what had occurred.

Multiple firefighters posed with the sex toy in a photo booth.

At the time, Tade told CBS4, "It's completely inappropriate. You shouldn't have to tell anybody that. It was clearly a bad decision."

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