St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch reinstated St. Pete Fire Chief Jim Large to his post.
Welch put Large on administrative leave Aug. 7 after City employee surveys raised questions about his commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts.
The NAACP’s St. Petersburg Branch along with City Councilmember Richie Floyd and Council President Brandi Gabbard also called for Large’s termination.
St. Pete Fire Chief Reinstated
But, on Aug. 23, Welch said he reinstated Large after conducting the review and personal interviews with current and retired firefighters and other city staff.
Welch said in a video statement that there were no “first-hand,” substantiated claims against Large.
“No one had first-hand knowledge or evidence of racial, homophobic, or sexist comments from the chief,” Welch said, adding that Large (through his attorney) refutes the complaints.
Additionally, Welch said Large returned to the helm of St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Aug. 24.
Welch said the department needs to work on improving diversity efforts. This includes promotions. He also cited some efforts show results, noting that Black people make up 17% of the St. Petersburg Fire Rescue’s workforce, saying it was the highest percentage in the Tampa Bay area.
If any formal human resources or discrimination complaints are filed against Large, the City will investigate thoroughly, according to Welch.
Only one formal complaint has been filed against the fire chief during his nearly five-decade tenure with the department.
The complaint was unsubstantiated, Welch said.