Documents: Fire chief resigned following allegations he made city staff uncomfortable at meeting

In a report prepared by investigators, employees present at the meeting said former Fire Chief Kevin Nalder’s attempt to use an electronic pain-relief device on a female city employee was inappropriate.
City employees present at Fire Department headquarters told investigators the city’s former fire chief, Kevin Nalder, acted unprofessionally when he interrupted a meeting. Nalder resigned in August.

Allegations that former Palm Springs Fire Chief Kevin Nalder acted in an “inappropriate and unprofessional manner” during a June 13 meeting with city employees preceded his resignation last month, The Post has learned.

In a 105-page confidential investigation released Aug. 19 and obtained by The Post Thursday, employees present at the meeting said Nalder’s attempt to use an electronic pain-relief device on a female city employee made them uncomfortable, especially given the fact he was not expected at the meeting.

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The female employee, who had earlier told Nalder she was in pain and consented to trying the device, said she was “shocked the chief interrupted the meeting to bring her the device, but she was grateful because she hoped the device would give her some relief.”

No formal complaint was filed regarding the incident and no disciplinary action was recommended in the report or in any other documents obtained by The Post. Nalder resigned five days after the report was delivered to a city attorney.

Neither the city nor Nalder have offered comments about the events that led up to his resignation. In a July 28 interview with a Redlands-based investigations company, however, Nalder acknowledged attempting to use the device on the female at the meeting, but said he did so without hesitation and felt it was appropriate because “she was in obvious pain and he was trying to help relieve that from her by use of the device.”

According to the investigator’s report, two female employees and a male employee of the city’s Procurement Department were present at a meeting at Palm Springs Fire Department headquarters when Nalder entered the room and tried to use his personal transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device on the employee who was experiencing pain. After failing to get the device to work, Nalder left.

The three Procurement Department employees “spoke to each other about the incident” and each “described their discomfort with the situation,” the report states. “Collectively they felt Chief Nalder’s actions were severe and caused them to feel awkward and uncomfortable.”

One of the Procurement Department employees verbally reported the incident to Deputy City Manager Jeremy Hammond, but the report does not say how or why the city elected to hire an outside firm to conduct an investigation.

Nalder served seven years as the city’s chief after coming here from Kirkland, Wash., where he was in the same role between 2009 and 2015. He oversaw a 70-person department growing busier and busier every year, with calls for service increasing 20% in just the past year.

The city is currently conducting a search for its next fire chief. In the meantime, Deputy Fire Chief Jason Loya is in the role on an interim basis.

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