By Reggie Connell/Publisher and Managing Editor of The Apopka Voice
Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson responded to weeks of social media rumors that he intended to replace Chuck Carnesale as Chief of the Apopka Fire Department.
“…the last two weeks have been a real challenge,” Nelson said in response to a public comment during last night’s City Council meeting. “But the short answer is he’s (Carnesale) not being removed nor is the police chief.”
Several statements of support for Carnesale were posted on social media and conveyed in the public comment section of the City Council meeting, and by three city commissioners.
Erica Hoyt, an Apopka resident, paramedic, and registered nurse, spoke first on behalf of Carnesale. In her comments she read from an email she also sent to Nelson, City Administrator Edward Bass, the four city commissioners, and to The Apopka Voice.
“Dear Mayor Nelson and City of Apopka Commissioners,
I am seeking to either affirm or dispel a statement made on The Apopka Voice news media website at 1900 (7 PM) Tuesday, April 16th, 2019, that Mayor Nelson and City Administrator Edward Bass may be replacing our current Fire Chief, Chuck Carnesale. If my elected officials are considering replacing our current Fire Chief, as a citizen of Apopka, I would like to know the direction my elected officials believe would be accomplished with a different Fire Chief, and who my officials are considering as a replacement. Safety is of paramount importance to me as a citizen in determining where I raise my family.
I have worked professionally as a paramedic and registered nurse with Chief Chuck Carnesale since 1995. Throughout this time, he has demonstrated exemplary professional integrity and the most profound commitment to the Fire Service profession and the City of Apopka. Chief has shown public support of the Apopka Fire Department throughout his tenure with the department by moving up through the ranks and mentoring those entering the profession. His leadership and positive influence also inspired my children when they interacted with him at Fire Camps and other City of Apopka sponsored events. What other fire chief has ever shown kids the importance of teamwork and servant leadership by sliding down a water slide in full uniform, complete with pictures on Facebook? I have had the pleasure of attending numerous other City of Apopka events where Chief Carnasale represented the Apopka Fire Department by speaking or educating the public on various aspects of public safety. He has demonstrated integrity, leadership, and a calming presence guiding colleagues and citizens through many of the most horrific circumstances a human could ever endure. As a very proud citizen of Apopka, I fully support keeping Chief Carnesale as my Fire Chief.”
Nelson responded directly to Hoyt after she concluded her remarks.
Thank you for your email. We are not replacing the Fire Chief.”
“Thanks for your email, Erica. Chief Carnesale is our fire chief and will continue to be. I hope that dispels the rumor.
Thanks for your concern.”
Mayor Bryan Nelson
After Nelson responded to Hoyt’s remarks, Commissioner Kyle Becker added his support for Carnesale.
“I couldn’t agree with your (Hoyt’s) comments more. I think Chief Carnesale is a tremendous asset for the City. I have a whole list of accomplishments that he’s done for us. I speak as 100% resident (of Apopka) and 20% of this Council, but a little more as a resident… he does amazing things for us. My daughters were excited when they had the opportunity to sign up for the summer class. Chief Carnesale has maintained our agency as an ISO-1 rating. He’s been instrumental in expanding our fire service station 5 and station 6 – which were needed. He even ensures that those people (firefighters and EMT’s) have the right equipment and resources to be able to do their jobs accurately. They’re just phenomenal ambassadors for this city. I’ve never heard one bad thing about our fire department. I strive to be as cool as they are, and get the admiration they receive. The fact of the matter is that he has dedicated his life to this particular agency, so you couldn’t have somebody who is better suited to serve in that leadership role. So I do hope the comments here tonight are a reality and dictates the long term. I know these rumors didn’t start from that one person, who started them most recently. It has been in the public realm for a little bit of time, so I just want to make sure that my feelings for the Chief are known and well received and I appreciate his service.”
I’ve never had a negative encounter with Fire Chief Carnesale,” writes Corbett. “Not in the slightest. He exudes positivity. He is a role model I am happy to have my kids look up to, and they very much do. He lives & breathes AFD. I simply will NOT believe or accept that he is not the best man for the job.”