St. Petersburg Times

Tampa uncuffed
Former city fire marshal in running for county job
Published July 21, 2005

No word yet on who Hillsborough County's next fire marshal will be. But one of two people recently interviewed is former Tampa Fire Marshal Melvin Stone, who left in 1999 after becoming the city's first black marshal three years earlier.

Stone took a job with the state Fire Marshal's Office in Tallahassee, saying at the time that he applied for the job after then-fire Chief Pete Botto told him he couldn't ride in the Gasparilla parade for the second year in a row.

Hillsborough Fire Rescue spokesman Ray Yeakley said Tony Taylor, now with Gainesville Fire Rescue, also interviewed for the job last week.

Hillsborough assistant fire chief Bill Singleton has been filling in as interim county fire marshal since April, when Chief William Nesmith fired Randy Hinder after less than a year on the job.

Two employees had filed sexual harassment claims against Hinder, but Nesmith said he did not fire Hinder because of that. He said Hinder had to go because he "promoted mistrust and suspicious feelings among his employees."

Yeakley said there is no time line yet for deciding on a new fire marshal. But Singleton would like to retire soon.