After going nearly a year without a permanent fire chief due to the placing of former Fire Chief Steven Mayotte on administrative leave and his subsequent departure amidst a plethora of misconduct allegations, reliable sources have informed The Leader that a serious candidate is in the final stages for appointment to the position that will lead the department.
Those sources, close to the selection process and from within Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District, have identified former Fresno Fire Chief Rob Brown as the person that the district has focused upon.
In addition to being the former fire chief of Fresno, Brown, a 30-plus year veteran firefighter, was the former fire chief of Strafford County, Virginia from 2005 to 2012 and has a combined 15 years as fire chief for other departments in the metropolitan areas of Kansas City, Cincinnati and Denver.
While Brown’s resume appears impressive, it was learned that after barely a year on the job as Fresno’s fire chief, he was arrested in June 2013 for domestic violence after a 911 call to the Fresno Sheriff’s Department by Brown’s wife, who was also a city employee.
After the arrest, Brown was placed on administrative leave by the city and eventually resigned his position in August 2013. He was making $155,592 a year as Fresno’s fire chief.
Brown later pleaded no contest that August to two misdemeanor charges of domestic battery and criminal threats, and in a plea agreement that was for no jail time, he agreed to take a year-long treatment class and was placed on three years of probation.
According to Fresno news media reports, deputies responded to Brown's home on the evening of June 12, 2013. Before arriving at the scene, the Fresno County Sheriff's Office said they had been advised that Brown had assaulted family members, was acting violent, and had been pepper sprayed by his son.
The Fresno Sheriff’s Department report states when deputies arrived at the scene, Brown was standing in his front yard, was visibly intoxicated, and initially did not cooperate with deputies. They said he was eventually handcuffed, and booked into the Fresno County Jail.
Investigators said Brown had apparently assaulted and threatened to kill family members at his home that evening. They said Brown was intoxicated when he punched another family member twice and knocked them to the ground.
In the sheriff's report, his wife also stated there were four prior incidents of domestic violence when they lived in Virginia and she feared for her safety. An emergency protective order was issued that evening.
Two days later, the family held a news conference with their attorney, Fresno lawyer Charles Magill, where Mrs. Brown said the arrest of her husband was an overreaction by sheriff’s deputies and the use of pepper spray on her husband was a misjudgment by her son. She described the incident as a father-son disagreement that was being incorrectly portrayed in the media.
While reviewing the 911 tape of the June 12 incident, Mrs. Brown told the 911 dispatcher that her husband was getting violent. She said Rob Brown was unpredictable and unstable and that there there was pushing, shoving and hitting before their 16-year-old son dialed 911.
After deputies arrived at the residence, she told the dispatcher that her husband was then making suicide threats.
When contacted on Monday, Jan. 13, Interim Fire Chief Brian Kelly confirmed that Brown was a candidate in the final stages of the background investigation for the position but could not comment on any particulars about the selection.
Kelly remarked that he was aware of the incident from last year causing Brown’s resignation.
“We are completely aware of his situation for leaving there (Fresno FD),” said Kelly. “He was very up front with us in the process about all aspects of his job history and any questions we asked.”
Kelly did not know how much longer the process would take until a permanent appointment would be made.
“Until we complete the background investigation, a final decision cannot be made on who we offer the position to,” said Kelly.