DENVER (CBS4) – Denver Fire Chief Eric Tade is expected to announce Tuesday that he is stepping down. 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 innuendoes for the second year in a row.
Tade said he is planning to release a letter which will explain his position on what happened.
”My letter will be very clear and accurate and will answer your questions,” Tade told CBS4 during a phone call Monday afternoon. “I’ll leave it up to the mayor’s office to put something out on it. I don’t feel comfortable commenting on anything.”
Theresa Marchetta, a spokesperson for Mayor Michael Hancock, did not returned calls to CBS4 but wrote in an email, ”Hoping to have something for you first thing in the A.M.”
She did not provide any further information.
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 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.”
Union President David Foster told CBS4 in 2019 the union and fire department administration would be “working together to make changes to prevent such conduct from occurring at the Fire Fighter’s Gala in the future.”
Ultimately, DFD said it disciplined three firefighters in 2019 for posing with the sex toy with all receiving “corrective action.”
Tade called what happened “completely inappropriate.”
But at the 2020 version of the event last Saturday night, attended by Tade, attendees say after the emcee joked again about the previous year’s sex toy controversy, a comedian took the stage and a significant portion of her act was devoted to joking about sex toys.
At one point, one attendee recalls the performer saying that DFD stood for “dildo free department.”
Another told CBS4 he didn’t find the comedian’s act to be very funny.
Another retired firefighter at Saturday’s gala said during his speech, Tade commented about how he did not appreciate the evening’s entertainment.
Although Tade declined to discuss specifics about his pending job announcement, he told CBS4, ”I try to do everything to the best of my ability and for the right reasons.”
If Tade follows through and resigns as Chief, he could continue his career at a lower rank, but it’s unclear if that will be the case.
He has served as Denver Fire Chief since 2010, overseeing a department of 900 firefighters in 38 firehouses.