MODESTO -- Chief Steve Mayotte of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District has been placed on paid leave.
Mayotte and district board President Charles Turner declined Wednesday to discuss the reason for the action.
"I'm off while we work through a personnel issue," Mayotte said. "That's all I am saying right now."
The district serves a large area that includes Riverbank, Empire, Waterford, Hickman, La Grange and the Beard Industrial District near Modesto.
It has a contract to manage the Oakdale Fire Department and the Oakdale Rural Fire Protection District, which take in most other parts of eastern Stanislaus County.
Deputy Chief Michael Wapnowski is overseeing the district while Mayotte is on leave.
"I think we shouldn't have much of a problem," Turner said. "Deputy Chief Wapnowski is very good."
The board voted 3-1 in closed session last week to place Mayotte on leave. Turner said he dissented because he thought the action was premature. The fifth seat is vacant.
Mayotte has led the district since 2005 and previously was a battalion chief.
The agency was created in 1995 through a merger of three smaller districts and the county fire department. It survived a serious financial crunch in 2004.
The district has seven stations, including the headquarters in Riverbank.
Bee staff writer John Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2385.