Fla. union votes ‘no confidence’ in fire chief after firefighter’s death

The Apopka fire union wants Chief Sean Wylam replaced for lack of accountability and failing to make safety improvements in the wake of Firefighter Austin Duran’s death

By Rachel Engel

APOPKA, Fla. — The city’s fire union voted it has “no confidence” in Apopka Fire Department Chief Sean Wylam’s ability to lead following the death of a member in July 2022.

According to Alex Klepper, president of IAFF Local 5293, 85% of the affiliated workforce does not believe the chief “has the competence and abilities to lead the Apopka Fire Department forward and provide a safe and proactive environment for continued managed growth.”

In response to the vote, Wylam released a statement in which he said he hoped to “regain their confidence and exceed their expectations.”

“I will meet and work diligently with the members of our department so that we arrive at a satisfactory resolution to the issues that have led us to this point,” the statement read. “This will be accomplished by increasing my communication efforts with the members to listen and share our plans for solving these issues as a team.”

Wylam has been under pressure since the death of 25-year-old Firefighter Austin Duran, who was badly injured after a sand-filled trailer fell on him while on the job. He underwent several surgeries before succumbing to his injuries.

Duran’s father, Michael, blames a lack of training for his son’s death.

“If (Austin Duran) had training, absolutely, Austin would still be here today,” Michael Duran said. “There is absolutely zero question: he would be here.”

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