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Embattled St. Pete Fire Chief announces retirement

Bill DeYoung

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Fire Chief Jim Large is a 50-year veteran of the department. Photo: St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue.

St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Chief Jim Large will retire March 1, the City announced Thursday morning. Large has been with the department for 50 years, the last 18 as chief.

Large was placed on paid administrative leave in August, following allegations that he fostered a hostile work environment for minorities and women. The accusations came in a letter to City Hall from a “concerned citizen.” Results of the City’s “Employee Climate Survey” in July also criticized the department environment. Claims of discriminatory hiring practices under Large first surfaced in 2014.

After a “careful review of the facts,” Mayor Ken Welch welcomed the Fire Chief back after two weeks. “Given the lack of any credible evidence that he violated city policy and insufficient proof or documentation of inappropriate statements being made, I am concluding my review of this matter and am reinstating Chief Large,” Welch said.

Large, who was named the 2022 Florida Fire Chief of the Year by the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association, told the mayor he had always planned to retire in 2024.

“I’m humbled and honored to have dedicated my entire 50-year career to serving the City of St. Petersburg – it has been a long journey filled with so many memorable moments and personal experiences,” Large said in a prepared statement Thursday. “Serving the citizens of St. Petersburg, providing high-quality emergency response, and working alongside the finest firefighters and support staff, who are dedicated to protecting our community, has been and will continue to be one of the greatest honors of my lifetime.”

A search for Large’s successor has begun. Deputy Chief Robert Bassett will serve as Interim Fire Chief effective March 2.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Danny White

    January 19, 2024at4:00 pm

    Everyone must know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em; know when to walk away…

  2. Avatar

    debra roman

    January 18, 2024at6:33 pm

    Chief Large is a great guy that is loved by all.

  3. Avatar

    John Donovan

    January 18, 2024at4:32 pm

    At best, “formerly embattled” (2 weeks in 50 years) would be a more appropriate headline.

  4. Avatar

    John Donovan

    January 18, 2024at4:31 pm

    Congrats Jim.

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