The Apopka Professional Firefighters Association recently held a vote of confidence in regards to the leadership of Fire Chief Sean Wylam, and many concerning details were included in a position paper along with the results.
“The Apopka Professional Firefighters Association is hereby notifying any and all stakeholders in the City of Apopka and Apopka Fire Department that our firefighters have no confidence in the continued leadership of Fire Chief Sean Wylam,” a letter from the Executive Board of the Apopka Professional Firefighters Association stated.
West Orlando News was sent a copy of a letter, which is included in full below.
The vote was not close, with 85% voting “that they have no confidence that Fire Chief Sean Wylam has the competence and abilities to lead the Apopka Fire Department forward and provide a safe and proactive environment for continued well managed growth.” The union members make up about 90% of active Apopka Firefighters with at least six months on the job, according to the letter.
“Let us be clear that we don’t feel that Fire Chief Sean Wylam is a bad person or one that acts with malicious intent but it has become clear and apparent that he is, and has been, incapable of competently managing the men and women who have dedicated and given their lives in service of the Apopka Fire Department,” the union executive board said.
According to the letter, the union executive board conducted a poll of members for a confidence vote after the issue was first raised at a union meeting on February 7th.
The firefighters address several serious concerns that led to the vote of no confidence. For example, the union cited that Chief Wylam publicly refused funding to improve staffing and department safety measures, worked against the interests of the fire department, promoted unnecessary budget cuts or proposals that placed more important items on the back burner, and created “a sense of betrayal and lack of trust among the department’s personnel.”
The letter makes it clear that the division in the department has led to a loss of respect for the fire chief’s authority and decision-making abilities, making it harder to lead effectively.
The Apopka Professional Firefighters Association previously surveyed the local membership at the end of 2020 and they said Chief Wylam ignored several items were identified where serious improvements were needed. At the time, concerns were training, education, officer development, lack of communication, poor equipment and living conditions.
“Three years later we are struggling over the same issues with no actual active plan in place and no tangible plan or vision for the future,” the union stated. “We have noticed a steady decline in morale and direction for the Apopka Fire Department.”
Here’s the full letter from the Apopka Professional Firefighters Association:
Copy of Union Letterhead