Clay County Fire Chief Frank Ennist resigned Tuesday amid two investigations into how he ran Clay Fire/Rescue. In a letter to county officials, Ennist said personal and financial hardships have required me to revisit my career choices.
He could not be reached for further comment.
Ennist's resignation, effective immediately, "came about following a fact-finding investigation into several allegations including using a county vehicle for personal use and inconsistencies with documentation of hours worked," said a news release issued by the county. "The chief acknowledged misuse of a county vehicle. However, he failed to offer a credible explanation concerning documentation of hours worked.
"These issues came up while an investigation into allegations made by a female employee against three managers in the department of a hostile work environment was being conducted. That investigation is still under way and the results are pending."
County Manager Fritz Behring appointed Deputy Chief David Motes as interim fire chief.
"This situation has necessitated a change in department leadership," said Behring in the release. "I am confident that interim Chief Motes possesses the skills required to oversee the department."
Ennist, 50, had been suspended with pay on Friday. The suspension followed two investigations -- one about potential misuse of a county vehicle and "inconsistencies with documentation of hours worked," the other, begin June 9, into allegations of "creating a hostile work environment," according to a news release issued by Clay County Monday.
Behring, who worked with Ennist previously in Deltona, said in an earlier statement Tuesday that he was "disappointed in what has transpired."
"But this type of situation never arose in Deltona," Behring said.
County Human Resources Director Rich O'Connell said Tuesday he began looking into Ennist's county vehicle use and work hours after his department received information "that we considered serious" enough to investigate.
He said Ennist was interviewed about the allegations Thursday. On Friday, "we found out a little bit more" and Behring decided to suspend the chief, O'Connell said.
The probe into hostile work conditions has to do with what the female staffer considered "verbal" harassment, O'Connell said.
Ennist was appointed to the newly created fire chief position in 2006 after a search committee made up of O'Connell and firefighter union representatives recommended him as the top pick, O'Connell said.
"He [Behring] took himself out of that. He didn't even want the appearance that he wanted this guy," O'Connell said.
Previously, Fire/Rescue was managed by the county's director of public safety.
David Seymour, current president of the Clay firefighters union, declined comment on Ennist's suspension, saying it was an "internal" matter. He could not immediately be reached Tuesday about Ennist's resignation.
County Commission Chairman Wendell Davis said Monday he does not comment on such personnel issues.
Ennist has worked as a firefighter instructor and served as assistant fire chief in Broward County, where he managed the operations of 22 fire stations and its 500 personnel. He left that post to become operations chief in Titusville. In 2001 he was named fire chief for Deltona, where Behring was city manager.
Written by Florida Times-Union
Courtesy of YellowBrix - YellowBrix