Orlando Fire Department misspent federal grant

Published April 6, 2007

ORLANDO - The Orlando Fire Department accepted more than $345,000 in Homeland Security grants to reimburse training expenses it did not have, authorities said.

Instead, the money was spent on three $43,500 trucks, medical supplies and other equipment, records show. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is reviewing the case, spokeswoman Kristen Perezluha said.

The grant, funded by the federal government but administered by the state, was supposed to cover overtime and related payroll costs for hazardous material and rescue training. Orlando firefighters did attend the classes, but the city did not have to pay extra personnel costs.

Fire chief Jim Reynolds told the Orlando Sentinel the department was reimbursed for unpaid expenses. However, he said the program guidelines were vague, and fire marshal's representatives told them it was okay to seek those costs.