Oakfield Township fire chief placed on probation

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 11:18 am on Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Oakfield Township Fire Chief Don Riker is pictured at the scene of a fire in September 2012. — File photo

OAKFIELD TOWNSHIP — This township’s fire chief has been placed on probation due to multiple issues and complaints.

The Oakfield Township Board voted 5-2 at their March 11 meeting to place Fire Chief Don Riker on probation for six months.

Supervisor Greg Dean, Treasurer Larry Parker and trustees Bryan Porter, Roger Mason and Chad Sowerby all voted in favor of the probation. Clerk Brooke Mauric and Trustee Ken Rittersdorf voted “no.”

Mauric declined to comment for this story. Rittersdorf did not return a message seeking comment.

“It’s in the minutes,” Dean told The Daily News regarding why he voted in favor of the probation. “It’s clear. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do, but this was necessary. He’s on probation and that’s the end of the story.”

According to the March 11 meeting minutes, before the board discussed and voted on the probation, Riker requested the board go into closed session, but the board voted against going into closed session. Dean then reviewed multiple complaints about Riker’s alleged conduct on recent emergency scenes.

Complaints included allegations of residents entering a burning building while the fire department was on scene, fire equipment being used by bystanders, bystanders drinking alcohol at a fire scene, the eastbound lane of M-57 not being properly closed to land AeroMed and Riker using a fire engine deck gun against his work restrictions.

The township board was also informed that 71 run reports had not been filed with the Kent County Emergency Medical Services since October 2013.

According to meeting minutes, Riker said residents did not enter the part of the building that was on fire. He said he was unaware of bystanders trying to use fire equipment and of bystanders drinking alcohol, until they were drinking later at a nearby barn. He said a fire engine was blocking the road by Old 14 Mile Road, but noted the Road Commission blocked the road at Lincoln Lake Road for AeroMed.

According to meeting minutes, Riker said he had no excuse for not filing fire reports and he felt that using the deck gun was not part of his restrictions. Riker said he does not have enough time to complete his duties.

Riker did not return messages seeking comment for this story.

According to Dean, Riker has been the township’s fire chief for several years.

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