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Klepper: "We must strive to eliminate any and all unnecessary risks posed to our members"


Apopka Firefighters Union President Alex Klepper released the following statement about the June 30th  accident to Firefighter/EMT Austin Duran at Fire Station #1:

"Mayor Nelson in conversation during a hospital visit asked me to issue a statement about Austin for this upcoming (July 6th) council meeting in reference to how Austin was doing, but I felt it would be a missed opportunity to address only our current injuries without addressing their root. 

Our brother Austin Duran was critically injured while at work on June 30th and remains in critical condition today. He has, against all odds, and remarkably so, survived through four major surgeries including his spine, arms, legs, and ribs, and is currently stable while still remaining on a ventilator. 

What must additionally be noted as representatives of our firefighters and as firefighters ourselves, is that we recognize the inherent danger of our work but we also strive to eliminate any and all unnecessary risks posed to our members. 

We will not rest until we have made certain that the environment and/or culture that allowed for Austin to be injured has been appropriately addressed and corrected. At this time we all, as a department, must take a deep look in the mirror and take ownership of this organizational failure. 

As noted by decorated Navy Seal Lieutenant Commander Jocko Willink, implementing ownership at this high level requires “checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility. Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.” 

He additionally states, “When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable—if there are no consequences—that poor performance becomes the new standard.” 

The Apopka Fire Department is better than this one incident, is stronger than this and can come out the other side better than this if we humbly agree to address officially any and all safety issues we face today and prepare to face them down the road. We cannot hide nor shirk our own personal responsibilities as we progress. 

We anticipate and look forward eagerly to the opportunity to address these challenges head on and accept no further risks to life or limb in our coming days."

Apopka Fire Department, IAFF L5293, Apopka Professional Firefighters Association, Opinion, OP/ED


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