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.
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:
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…”
“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.