Ponce Inlet fire chief accepts town manager's discipline for hostile work environment

by: Mike Manzoni, WFTV Web Staff Updated:


VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - The Ponce Inlet fire chief told Channel 9's Mike Manzoni that he has accepted discipline handed down by the town manager.

Last Friday, the city released its investigation report Friday on Fire Chief Dan Scales that said he violated town policy by creating a hostile work environment.

As part of the punishment, Jeaneen Witt, the town manager of Ponce Inlet, said Scales will be on unpaid suspension for 120 hours, his base pay will be reduced by 6 percent, he’ll be placed on probation for one year, he must seek police Chief Fabrizio’s review and approval on all management decisions regarding personnel under his command during the one-year probationary period and he must complete 40 hours of fire management training to be approved in advance, the investigation said. 

Scales told Eyewitness News that he is ready to move forward and use the opportunity to "improve myself and the department."

Read: Complaint against Fire Chief Dan Scales

Nine members of the Ponce Inlet Professional Firefighters Local 4140, along with three fire department employees, filed a complaint about Scales with the city on Dec. 5, and the investigation ran from Dec. 8 to Jan. 31.

Scales has been with the department since 2005.

Scales' former administrative assistant, Jeni Simken, broke down in tears about the way he treated her.

Listen: Complaint against Ponce Inlet fire chief

She said Scales made inappropriate remarks about her father's death and told her she looked like an "Amish hooker."

"He told me, 'OK, your dad is dead now. Maybe you can focus on your work,'" Simken said. "When I would dress a little nicer, he told me I looked like a prostitute. He told me nobody liked me. You can only be kicked so many times before you finally say, 'I'm done. I'm done.'"

Scales told investigators that he didn't call Simken a prostitute or say that she looked like an Amish hooker, but he did mention her work attire.

"She had a pair of boots that were totally inappropriate for the workplace," he said. "I said, 'Jeni, I don't appreciate how you're dressing today. Those boots make you look like a stripper.'"