Lehigh fire chief offers commissioners to buy him out

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LEHIGH ACRES, Fla.- The Lehigh Acres fire chief says he’s fed up and even offered the board of fire commissioners to buy out his contract.

Chief John Wayne feels Commissioner Cathy Kruse has it out for him and constantly blind-sided him in their public meetings.

Wayne says Cruse brings up anonymous accusations against him in their meetings even before talking with him in private to find a solution.

“It appears to be some type of witch hunt for the fire chief position,” said Wayne.

Kruse says she believes the public should know about any major accusation for transparency.

“We are responsible to the community and we are responsible to the employees that work here,” said Kruse.

There are also concerns that the chief didn’t properly handle claims of sexual harassment. Lehigh firefighter Julie Boulanger says during a meeting with the chief and other station employees, she told the chief about another employee inappropriately touching her.

“He said that I needed to address it with that person, and tell that person, and I said I didn’t feel comfortable about it and that was why I was coming to him,” said Boulanger.

But Chief Wayne says there is a process in which these allegation need to be reported.

“The battalion chief, their direct supervisor would do the investigation, they would bring that up the chain and give me the recommendation for disciplinary action and we would have an administration hearing to handle it,” said Wayne.

Four out of five commissioners voted to keep Wayne in his position and did not vote to buyout his contract.

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