New report recommends sweeping changes at Apopka Fire Department

Audit conducted following the Apopka firefighter’s death urges changes to the department’s safety protocols

APOPKA, Fla. – A new independent report recommends sweeping changes to safety protocols at the Apopka Fire Department in the wake of the death of Austin Duran last year.

The fire chief and other city leaders went through those recommendations Wednesday evening. Duran’s parents also attended the meeting, speaking out and calling for the fire chief to be fired.

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“Our family has nothing to gain by this. They’ve already taken everything from us,” Mike Duran, Austin Duran’s father, said. “By us coming here, we gain nothing. We lose. We lose ourselves. The frustration, the anger, beating our heads in the wall time and time again with the frustration.”

In June 2022, 25-year-old firefighter Austin Duran was severely injured after he was crushed by a large piece of equipment that fell on him while on duty.

Duran passed away a few days later from his injuries.

In the days that followed, concerned residents and Duran’s family showed up to city hall, calling for Fire Chief Sean Wylam to be replaced.

A compromise was made when the city agreed to hire a consultant to audit the Apopka Fire Department and its policies.

Last month, the audit was released, city major concerns with the culture within the department and failure to properly train and communicate with staff.

“I am committed to correct these issues as fire chief,” Wylam said. “I will continue to do so moving forward to provide solutions and be a part of solutions to solve these problems.”

In the weeks since the audit was completed, Wylam hasn’t visited two of the six fire stations in the department, he told the city council.

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About the Author:

Troy graduated from California State University Northridge with a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. He has reported on Mexican drug cartel violence on the El Paso/ Juarez border, nuclear testing facilities at the Idaho National Laboratory and severe Winter weather in Michigan.