DENVER -- Denver Fire Department Chief Eric Tade is stepping down. Tade tendered his resignation in a meeting with Mayor Michael Hancock on Monday.
In the resignation letter, Chief Tade explained about a specific event that led to his decision.
"Last year, I promised you, the Mayor, that the nature surrounding the 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. Unfortunately, this year's event did not prove to live up to those expectations or mine," stated Tade in his letter.
Read the full letter here:
According to the organizer of the 2019 and 2020 galas, a comedian made inappropriate jokes involving sex toys in 2019. While the organizer apologized for the jokes at the 2020 gala, a different comedian made similar jokes once again. Hancock would not confirm whether those incidents are connected to Tade's resignation.
Kim Wadsworth, the comedian who performed at the 2020 event, said she had performed similar material before without any issues.
“I think it's blown out of proportion. These are guys who are our heroes, our first responders. They have a high-stress job and they're blowing off some steam at their annual event," she said.
Wadsworth says she was asked to make a joke about the sex toy.
“It was suggested material. There was a set of items to talk about. Any time you do a corporate event, you should research what’s going on and talk to the people who employ you and come up with material that they will give you,” she said.
Wadsworth says she is sad to see the chief resign because of what happened at the gala.
“It seems to me there’s other things, other issues,” she said. “He had nothing to do with it. I tell jokes to make people laugh. I don’t tell jokes to get people fired.”
According to the Denver fire charter, Tade will be retained in the department as an assistant chief.
Hancock released the following statement about Tade's departure:
“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. “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.”
Tade will leave his position on March 16.
On Tuesday afternoon, Local 858, the union representing Denver firefighters, issued a statement about Tade's resignation.
In the letter, the union praised Tade for his leadership during his nearly 10 years as chief.
"Whoever has the privilege of being appointed as the Chief of the Denver Fire Department will have huge shoes to fill. We will work diligently with the Mayor and his staff to progress the Department forward, and will continue to provide the absolute best service to the citizens of Denver," the union said.
In regard to the gala, the union said there was "an unfortunate event from a small group of attendees that detracted from the true cause of the Gala" in 2019.
"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," the union wrote.
Additionally, the union said it has removed the public relations director and gala emcee from his position.