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FLAGLER BEACH, Fla. -- As a barber in Flagler Beach, Wayne Odum knows a lot of the controversies and players here, and the Flagler Beach Fire Department has seen its share of controversy this year.

"I haven't needed them, but I'm glad they're there," Odum said, referring to the firefighters.

Three different people have held the chief's position in just a few months, and now no one is chief at the department, according to City Commissioner and City Fire inspector Marshall Shupe.

First, there was Fire Chief Martin Roberts. He was suspended earlier for going to a call after allegedly drinking at a holiday party.

He was recently let go for insubordination regarding a fire truck and trips, according to a letter written by the city manager.

Then Robert Pace was named acting or interim chief. However, last week, Pace was charged with obstruction of justice following accusations of destruction of evidence.

"He was charged with a misdemeanor," Shupe noted.

So last Thursday, the third person was up. Former chief Robert Creal was asked to fill the chief's role. He had already left the position years ago after a police investigation partly over marijuana.

"But Robbie came in and because of all the negative publicity about his personal issues, not the fact of the role he'd step into," Shupe said, "He had some health issues and Saturday he bowed out of it."

That leaves the city without a fire chief for now. Currently, Shupe said there is an employee on every shift who is in charge at the fire station.

And then there's the ladder truck. It was due for an inspection by a certification agency in May, according to Shupe.

"We had requested a test back in May but the best they could do for us was early summer," Shupe explained, "and now they've moved up to positively 10 next Wednesday morning."

Are the people who live and work in Flagler Beach safe with the fire department the way it is?

Shupe says absolutely.

"They don't need to worry. They never need to worry."

"We get a lot of customers and there is no one who's had an issue with that yet," Judy Gardner said. She works with Odum.


"They've got the equipment and know-how," Odum added, "but it depends on leadership."

Odum - like many - said there needs to be a chief, someone in charge of fire department in Flagler Beach.

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