Gilbert battalion chief resigns - East Valley Tribune: Gilbert

Gilbert battalion chief resigns

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Posted: Saturday, May 31, 2014 10:00 am

Gilbert Fire Department (GFD) Battalion Chief David Rodriquez resigned amid an investigation into allegations he violated multiple town policies. Gilbert spokesperson Jennifer Alvarez said Rodriquez left his post effective May 28, which coincided with the day the town released a report into allegations of misconduct against him.

The investigation began when Division Chief Wes Kemp received an anonymous letter indicating an unnamed battalion chief later tried to get a Gilbert firefighter to use paid time off to work in Forest Lakes. The report confirms the unnamed battalion chief was Rodriquez, who has served as the chief of the Fire Lakes Fire District (FLFD) in Coconino County since 2008.

The letter also alleged the request was not the first time Rodriquez had requested firefighters use leave time to serve in Forest Lakes, and additional allegations arose that he used his own leave time to serve in that capacity. Rodriquez was placed on administrative leave on March 26, and the town hired Keith Sobraske from Investigative Research Inc. to investigate the allegations.

The result of the investigation, which included interviews of 28 people, found Rodriquez had solicited firefighters to serve in Forest Lakes, “while he has been on duty at GFD, or asked GFD personnel to use Gilbert sick leave, vacation leave and/or other leave to enable them to avoid working at Gilbert and work shifts at FLFD instead, in furtherance of his personal gain as fire chief at FLFD.”

The investigation also sustained allegations Rodriquez used Gilbert Internet resources and other forms of technology, “in connection with his secondary employment at Forest Lakes Fire District.” The investigation did not find Rodriquez used his sick time to work in Forest Lakes.

All of the allegations are violations of Gilbert policy, which can result in written warnings, suspension without pay, transfers and demotions, and possible dismissal.

The report is the first of two to come out of the allegations, as Alvarez said the investigation was expanded to encompass Rodriquez’s entire tenure at Forest Lakes. The second is forthcoming, and she said the town does not have an official comment because the investigation is ongoing.

The second part of the investigation could encompass additional firefighters who worked for Forest Lakes using Gilbert sick or vacation time. The investigation did find Rodriquez attempted to secure vacation time in order for an employee, Danny Skaggs, to work for Forest Lakes in November 2013.

Rodriquez has worked as a Gilbert firefighter as a volunteer in 1980 and served as a Rural Metro firefighter from 1982 to 1992, the year Gilbert created its own department. He has served as a shift supervisor — his titles have included lieutenant, captain and battalion chief — for Gilbert since 1992. Rodriquez also received the chief of the year award in 2010 from the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association.

In a previous interview, United Mesa Firefighters President Bryan Jeffries, whose union represents Gilbert firefighters, said its quite common for firefighters to work for multiple fire departments to supplement their income. They are often able to do so because firefighter shifts are often split into consecutive days of the week.

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