PARKER Fla. (WMBB) — The City of Parker is on the hunt for a new fire chief, after the city council terminated the former chief last week.
The council made this choice since the former chief has been on sick leave for over three months.
Parker Mayor Andrew Kelly said former Parker Fire Chief Shawn Pergande was injured on the scene of a fire on March 12 – forcing him to step back.
“Workman’s comp apparently denied the claim and as a result, he was on sick leave,” Kelly said. “Just sick leave.”
Now over three months later, Mayor Kelly, also a former fire chief, said the city needed to take action to fill the vacant position.
“It was put on the agenda for the city council to look at the facts,” Kelly said.
In a unanimous vote, Pergande was terminated at the special meeting on June 17. Kelly said their staff is already limited since it is a volunteer department. The department has less than 50 employees and does not have FMLA. He said they just could not afford the approximately $45 thousand of unbudgeted overtime to fill his spot.
“A motion was made, a motion was seconded and the vote was taken,” Kelly said. “And the vote was basically it’s been over three months we’ve got to fill the position. This cannot go on forever.
According to Pergande’s lawyer, he wanted to return to work but could not get a clean bill of health.
Mayor Kelly said this was particularly hard for him since he and Pergande worked together for 18 years. All communication between the two has been done through their attorneys. He said the city really had no other choice.
“Absolutely he would’ve been there until the day he retired,” Kelly said. “The City of Parker is small and we can’t go on and on and on without having all of the employees that work.”
Kelly said the city is now taking applications for the job and hopes to pick a new chief within the next few weeks.