Safety review after death of firefighter says Apopka Fire Department is ‘dysfunctional’

APOPKA, Fla. — A new top-to-bottom safety review of the Apopka Fire Department sheds some light on the firefighter who was died in an accident on duty.


The report calls the department “dysfunctional” and says changes must be made.

Now, his father hopes the report will lead to major changes after the Apopka Fire Department has already been on blast by firefighters and the man’s family for not doing enough to keep firefighters safe.

Austin Duran was injured on the job last June after a 4,500-pound sand trailer fell and pinner him down. He died two weeks later.

READ: ‘He was strong’: Firefighter Austin Duran remembered after passing from on-the-job injury

Since his death, there have been several investigations, the forming of a safety committee and calls for accountability.

Duran’s father, Mike Duran, asked the city to take the new report seriously and said the issues were here before his son’s death, and are still there six months later.

The Gannon Emergency Services Report, paid for by the city, showed consultants found that there was low morale, no chain of command and were short-staffed.

WATCH: ‘Our hearts are broken’: Apopka mourns line-of-duty death of firefighter Austin Duran

The consultants summarized the issues as:

Years of neglected safety and health programs or attention toward safety and health

A Lack of a dedicated and experienced safety professional

READ: ‘Their hands are tied’: 2 resign from committee to investigate Apopka firefighter’s on-duty death

A Young, inexperienced department Incomplete and overloaded organizational structure.5. Lack of Strategic Planning and Lack of Accountability

The president of the union said of the report, “I have never been more embarrassed of a report.”

The city responded by saying some of the findings were beyond the scope of review, or that consultants failed to give factual examples.

READ: Apopka firefighter defends decision to resign from committee investigating Austin Duran’s death

Since Duran’s death, there have been changes including a new Division Chief of Training and a Division Chief of Life Safety, as well as the immediate recruitment of 18 new firefighters.

The consultants agreed the steps were positive, but said they found that there are “deeper foundational deficiencies that the department also needs to address.”

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Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.