AVON PARK, Fla. – Avon Park city fire chief Brad Batz submitted his letter of resignation following a contentious showdown within his own department after the firefighters union made unsubstantiated allegations he was unfit for the job.
Batz’s resignation letter submitted Monday followed a letter the Avon Park Fire Department union, Local 3132, submitted to the city manager in October.
In the letter, union leaders detailed several concerns and grievances they say members had with Batz since he started the job at the end of 2016. According to the letter, firefighters claimed they were harassed when they tried to work together and they questioned his decision-making.
“The fire chief has time and time again shown his inability to be an effective leader,” the letter reads in its conclusion. “We the members of the Fire Department are now being shown and taught that cooperation and teamwork will get you harassed and singled out while spitefulness and divisiveness are the new key qualifications to being a leader.”
Union leaders also made an audacious claim about a “concerning” statement Batz had made in which he, “mentioned to multiple people at the department that, ‘I’m mentally unstable and own automatic weapons.’”
Batz has since responded to each and every allegation, including the claim about being “mentally unstable,” saying he was repeating the “ridiculous” phrase someone else had said about him.
“I am not mentally unstable nor do I own automatic weapons,” Batz said, in a document he provided to 10News outlining his response to each allegation. He said all of this is an attempt by a select few to smear his reputation and that he ultimately resigned because he’d had enough.
Avon City fire chief response by on Scribd
“The goal was to have me removed since the beginning,” Batz said in a statement emailed to the city’s mayor and council members, in which he also said the city’s outside labor attorney found the union’s claims were without merit.
“I ask that my family and I be allowed to live our lives without the constant harassment and slanderous statements made contrary to the facts.”
Batz declined to comment on camera.
Tuesday night, the union’s letter appeared on the city council agenda as a discussion item but Mayor Garrett Anderson called for a motion to move on without discussion, calling it “moot” considering Batz’s resignation just 24 hours prior.
Local 3132 president Warren West echoed that sentiment.
“The point is he left,” West said. “They’ll continue to do their job as they always have been, so that’s where we’re at and there’s no need to comment on anything else.”
Anderson said the search for a new fire chief won’t begin until a new city manager is hired, which isn’t expected until late December.
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