Former St. Petersburg, FL, Chief Says He was Targeted by Union

May 21, 2024
Chief Jim Large, now retired, was cleared of any wrongdoing following a probe of the anonymous complaints.

“It's the politics of the firefighters union. You could see the consistent language if you will, vocabulary and stuff in some of the comments.”

That's what St. Petersburg Fire Chief Jim Large said of anonymous complaints that resulted in his suspension last summer.

Large told abc action news that the orchestrated effort to oust him failed.

He was cleared of any wrongdoing and returned to work weeks later. Large retired from the department about two months ago.

Large believes he was targeted because of a long-time disagreement regarding the operation of the department.

When he wanted to establish priority dispatch, politics stopped it. 

Under his plan, Sunstar ambulances would be dispatched to minor calls such as falls and minor illnesses instead of a county paramedic.

The former chief said medics should be available to respond to higher emergencies such as chest pains. 

The union balked about changing the system, saying it could trigger longer waits for help and some calls could turn out to be more serious. 

He pointed out that five Pinellas County departments, including Clearwater and Largo, have switched to priority dispatch.

Switching to priority dispatch would reduce responses about 4,000 calls annually. 

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Content curated and written by Firehouse editorial staff, including Susan Nicol, Steven Shaw, Peter Matthews, Ryan Baker and Rich Dzierwa.