OAKLAND, CA – Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed, whose department has come under criticism for what many consider lax inspection at the Ghost Ship warehouse where 36 people died in December, has taken a leave from her position, city officials said Tuesday.
Reed has been at the center of questions over why the department did not inspect the Ghost Ship despite complaints about safety conditions inside the artists community.
An Alameda County grand jury report in 2014 found a third of commercial buildings in the city went unchecked despite a requirement for annual inspections. In 2015, the state stripped the department of its state certification to perform hazardous waste inspections.
Oakland officials refused to provide details about why Reed was absent from overseeing the department. A city spokesman said Deputy Chief Darin White had been appointed acting fire chief.
“We haven’t seen her since about Jan. 18. We have no idea where she is at present and what is going on with the department’s leadership,” said Zachary Unger, vice president of Oakland’s firefighters union, which has publicly criticized the chief over her slow hiring practices and high vacancy rate.
Last month, the chief got into a heated exchange with residents at a community meeting. The East Bay Times reported that the chief launched a verbal attack on a resident and threatened to sue a homeowner. She said a letter by a group of residents that was read at the meeting was “full of lies.”