Chuck Carnesale has always been described as a person that worked every job at the Apopka Fire Department before being promoted to its fire chief in 2016. And since that promotion, the descriptions shifted to innovative, groundbreaking, and collaborative after opening two new fire stations and brokering a deal with Orange County to take over one of their territories just outside of the Apopka city limits.

Apopka Fire Chief Chuck Carnesale

But nearly three years into his term, rumors are swirling in the community and on social media that his time as fire chief may be coming to a close.

Last night on the local Facebook page “Apopka Then and Now”, Eddie Poirier, an administrator on “Apopka Cancer Cases”, posted this shocking statement:

“FYI, the Fire Chief is being forced out and the Police Chief is next.

Chuck has been told to get out.
Why? Because he had the misfortune of being promoted by Joe Kilsheimer to fire chief.

All I know is this… the fire department is the class of this town. When my wife was near death those guys came to my house and did everything possible to help my wife.

I think it’s unfair for a guy like Chuck who worked his way up through the ranks to be forced out over political bull—-.

If the firefighters and the rank-and-file speak out now you might save Chuck’s job. The man has done an outstanding job and the firefighters have the utmost respect for him. Morale has never been better yet the mayor wants him OUT.

The citizens respect Chuck, I’m not so sure how they feel about this mayor and his lack of transparency…”

Poirier’s post was met with over 100 responses and a thread that has continued for over 20 hours on the site – which has over 4,800 followers. Poirer’s site “Apopka Cancer Cases” has over 4,400 followers.

Later in the day, Jack Martin, founder of “The Apopka Critic” posted this:

 “What is happening about Apopka Fire Chief and letting him go? There was a rumor of this a few weeks ago, which I did not believe…
Inside sources say that the mayor asked Ed Bass to tell Chuck they want him to retire early. Chuck is only 47. No real reason was given other than looking at a new direction. What we believe is that Bryan wants Joe’s appointed guys out. That fire department is all that Chuck knows. He grew up there. The men and women there love him…”
This too was met with dozens of responses from a site with over 7,400 followers.
 “Apopka Then and Now” founder and former candidate for City Commission Gene Knight also released a statement in support of Carnesale:
“I’ve known Chief Carnesale for many years. He has given his heart and soul to the AFD. He’s always smiling and joking around. Every time I see him around town with other people from the AFD the morale is amazing, he also has been a great role model for kids all around Apopka. Chief Carnesale has worked hard to get where he is today if we lose him it would be a great loss for Apopka. I back Chief Carnesale 100%.”
Despite the firestorm of speculation and opinions swirling online and around the city, Carnesale told The Apopka Voice that his focus remains on the Apopka Fire Department.

“I worked yesterday and today, and I will work tomorrow. My love for this city, the fire department, and my firefighters is far greater than to worry about all this negativity right now, although I appreciate the kind remarks and community support. I have a community and fire department that deserves my attention right now and I will not be distracted. This will be all I have to say right now. I’d refer you to city hall for further comment.”

The Apopka Voice did reach out to Mayor Bryan Nelson and City Administrator Edward Bass to confirm, deny, or clarify what was posted on social media about Carnesale’s future as Apopka’s fire chief.

“No, he is not being fired or asked to resign,” Nelson wrote in a text message to The Apopka Voice.”

Bass confirmed a meeting with Carnesale (that was referenced by several comments on social media) but said that no action was taken.

“We have met but did not ask for (Carnesale’s) resignation,” Bass wrote in an email to The Apopka Voice.

In 2016, The Apopka City Council voted 5-0 to approve Carnesale as Apopka’s fire chief, replacing Lee Bronson. Previously, Carnesale served as assistant fire chief since 2013, heading up the fire department’s emergency medical and ambulance services. He is certified as a firefighter, EMT/paramedic, fire officer, fire inspector and instructor in various fields. In 1990, he was hired as a full-time firefighter/EMT, and in 2000 he was recognized by then Governor Jeb Bush as Apopka’s Firefighter of the Year.

 In his time as fire chief, Carnesale has employed a host of ideas to get AFD firefighters and EMT’s closer to the population centers of Apopka. In 2017, he proposed to stay ahead of the imminent growth curve by investing in two additional fire stations – #5 and #6.
 Fire Station #5 was the first opened in Apopka in 20 years. The staff includes 21 firefighters – seven for each of three shifts. Emergency vehicles include a fire engine, ambulance, and a rapid response squad truck that carries equipment for vehicle accidents and other emergencies.
In the temporary Fire Station #6, the AFD converted a 2,000 square foot construction trailer and additional space on AdventHealth Apopka property into a temporary fire station that houses nine firefighters (three at a time working 24-hour shifts), and a fire truck until Fire Station #6 is completed. According to Carnesale, and research done by The Apopka Voice, this may well be the only fire station operating on hospital property anywhere in the United States.
With Station #5 complete, and temporary Station #6 established, Carnesale brokered a deal with Orange County Fire Rescue Chief Otto Drozd III to expand the AFD’s reach to areas of unincorporated Northwest Orange County that are outside of the Apopka city limits. Areas that would be better served by Stations #2 and #5 than by the OCFE’s Station 29.
“Relations between the AFD and OCFR fire have never been greater than they are now,” he said at the announcement in 2018. “Over the last two years, we’ve worked great together. Apopka’s been assisting Orange County in joint response areas and doing whatever they need when they call us on for assistance. The dynamics between the two agencies are totally different now. It will be nice to know that if we have a catastrophic event, either agency will be there to help the other.”

9 COMMENTS

  1. I was told right after the election of me or Nelson that anyone that was hired by Mayor Kilsheimer would be fired/let go.
    I know Chuck personally and he is One of the kindest man on earth. The fire department of Apopka is his family!
    This is pure politics!

  2. I have known Chuck for over 25 years. He is a man of integrity and passion. He has finally turned around a Fire Dept. that that he cares deeply about. It would be a devastating blow to the taxpaying citizens and the employees of the FD for him to be forced out. It would start a downward spiral back into the tyranny that plagued the FD for years.

  3. This mayor has been a huge let down. He complains about the budget yet he killed a huge source of revenue from the red light camers because a few people who “Broke the Law” complained. He wants to get rid of a great fire chief! Meanwhile he has kept the police chief who has all but killed the moral in his department. Several good officers are leaving, he lost control of his own administrative staff. Why is this chief still here!!! I feel bad for all of us who supported Nelson because at the end of the day he made Kilsheimer look like a million dollars.

  4. There is a city council meeting tonight at 7:00. For all of those who actually BELIEVE the mayor and his henchman Bass, you should really be present.
    What is happening is WRONG‼️‼️‼️Your eyes may just be opened……
    Tonight, Wednesday April 17, 2019.

  5. Hopefully there will be no dismissal or “pushing out” of a hugely popular and successful Fire Chief that has done a tremendous job in his role. As stated, morale has never been better. If that move is made, it would lead to an explosion of community backlash as it would surely be evidence of politics over public interest.

  6. I too think Apopka Fire Chief Carnesale is on top of his game, and he is warm, and friendly to all who he comes in contact with. While I don’t know the fire department’s inner workings hardly at all, I sure can’t understand why they wanted to force him out, if it is true, as I don’t know whether that was true, or just rumor. Personally, while I am very satisfied with Chief Carnesale, and like him, I don’t know why Mayor Kilshiemer forced out the former Fire Chief, Lee Bronson….didn’t seem right to me at all!….What, just because he was friends with certain people? I heard Mayor K was even trying to take away Lee’s healthcare insurance that was paid for by the city for being there over 25 years per the city’s policy, until he turned 65, and would get Medicare, and that he had to fight it all with an attorney, as he was there for over 40 years, I think. That is not right! I am not bringing this up, in no way, as a reflection of Chief Carnesale job either, as I said, I like him very much, it is just that Lee didn’t do anything bad in the fire department, and was a good fire chief too, but that is politics for you! I think everybody that stays employed in the local government for a long time has faced political crap……or hey, maybe now days, it is the Trump culture of “your fired” and leaders think they have to trump up, or be nasty like Trump is…..yeah, I blame Trump!!! Time for Trump to be forced out!!! Impeach Trump ASAP!

  7. As far as the police department, I am very concerned as an Apopka citizen, and a woman, that there seems to be one officer, or maybe it is more than one officer, as I just don’t know how many exactly, because of hush- hush during police internal investigations, but when I hear news reports of a police officer striking a woman, or violence against a woman during arrests, or police confrontations, that very much concerns me. I hear this has happened before in an out- of- town incident by one of our own police officers at a bar, also and again, by that same officer once again in another incident closer, to home or in this city… I just don’t know the full facts. Should I be concerned, as a woman, in this city, seriously? The state is having discussions, I have heard, about stopping police violence against women….Miami Dade County, is what I heard. Please reassure me as an Apopka citizen and woman, that I shouldn’t be concerned in this city, about being punched and beaten, if accused of something by the police…….?????

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