Fire Chief James Large of St. Petersburg has been placed on administrative leave by the mayor, according to a memo issued on Saturday.
“After numerous conversations and feedback received from multiple individuals, along with the allegations made and information received in the Employee Climate Survey, as well as other information received, Chief James Large is placed on Administrative Leave effective immediately,” the Aug. 5 note sent to city council members reads.
Just three days before this memo, Councilmember Richie Floyd shared three comments on X (formerly Twitter) about the situation.
“Our Fire Rescue employees are crucial to our city. It’s clear after hearing from them that they are not being treated with the respect they deserve, and the issues go beyond what’s been reported so far,” Floyd wrote in a post dated Aug. 2.
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He followed that post with the following comment: “I’m grateful for Chief Large’s faithful service to our city, but nothing is more important than dignity on the job. It’s for this reason that I believe it’s time for a change in leadership, & our Fire department employees should have the first say in who their next leader is.”
St. Pete Fire Rescue’s website reveals that Large joined the team in 1974 and assumed the role of fire chief in February 2006.
Mayor Kenneth T. Welch of St. Pete made a powerful video statement on Monday, addressing the decision to place Large on administrative leave:
“St. Petersburg Fire Chief James Large has been placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately. I understand there will be more questions revolving around this action, but at this time, this is a personnel matter.
It is important to underscore our executive team members are held to the highest standards and the administration did not take this decision lightly. The City will continue its assessment and evaluation of all circumstances while weighing the facts and information received via the Employee Climate Survey and thereafter.
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue has always and will continue to deliver outstanding Fire and EMS services to protect the health and wellbeing of our community. Every day, we are thankful to our hardworking team members for their willingness to serve and unwavering commitment to duty and integrity.
Assistant Fire Chief Robert Bassett has agreed to serve as Acting Fire Chief in the interim.”