Immokalee Fire Chief under fire

Firefighters fed up with fire chief
Posted at 10:15 PM, Mar 28, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-29 07:04:13-04

Chief Paul Anderson is fending off criticism from the fire board and his own firefighters.

The chief appeared in front of a special fire commission meeting Tuesday to answer questions about whether he took advance pay on unused sick days.  Commission members say that could be a violation of his contract.

Anderson also heard from frustrated subordinates.

"I hate coming to work every day." said Battalion Chief Josh Bauer.

Bauer and others say the chief is the reason for low morale in the department.

"Things are bad, things are really bad.  We tried to tell the chief.  I wouldn't be standing here, if it wasn't for the fact I already tried talking to him," said Bauer.

Some firefighters say Chief Anderson doesn't follow protocol by sending them into a house fully engulfed.

Anderson says he would never put his employee's lives at risk.

"I do care about them.  I'm the one that created all the new positions that they got promoted into, I'm the one who created who created incentive pay to give them extra money."

The chief says he believes many of his firefighters are trying to merge their union with the North Collier Fire department, so they can get higher wages.

Despite the low morale, Chief Anderson says he wants to work out the differences.

"You don't just throw in the towel and bail on the relationship when the road gets rocky, you work on fixing it."

Some say the relationship is beyond repair

"If all this is coming out and yet he's still here, I don't want to be here," said Battalion Chief Thomas Cunningham.

The Immokalee Fire Board says a decision will be made on Chief Anderson's future at an April 5th meeting.

The chief says he does not plan to resign as of now.