Oakfield Township fire chief fired, but remains as volunteer

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 1:17 pm on Tuesday, June 10, 2014

OAKFIELD TOWNSHIP — This township’s fire chief has been fired.

The Oakfield Township Board unanimously voted to fire Don Riker at the May 13 township board meeting.  He will be allowed to remain on the fire department as a volunteer firefighter.

Oakfield Township Supervisor Greg Dean did not return repeated messages seeking comment. (UPDATE: The Daily News inadvertently used an incorrect telephone number to try to contact Dean. He was successfully reached for comment after this story was published, but he declined to comment).

Clerk Brooke Mauric declined to comment. Riker could not be reached for comment.

Sam Peterson has been appointed interim fire chief for the time being.

The township board previously voted 5-2 at their March 11 meeting to place Riker on probation for six months.

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 also said he does not have enough time to complete his duties.

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