PALM HARBOR — Longtime fire Chief James Angle is retiring to take over as program coordinator at St. Petersburg College's fire academy.
Angle, 56, said his decision is not as unexpected as it might seem. He has written one textbook and co-authored another, is an adjunct faculty member at the academy and is a contract instructor for the National Fire Academy's management science curriculum.
"I always kind of saw where, sometime in my life, I would want to (go into) academics," Angle said. "I just felt like if I didn't take the opportunity now, I would lose it."
Angle said he will miss the Palm Harbor department and the community, but "I'm looking forward to it. It's a great opportunity for me."
Angle's final day of work has not been determined. He expects to make the change sometime in early to mid November.
"We've got mixed feelings," said Norm Atherton, a Palm Harbor fire commission member. "We don't want him to go. He has been so great. He has been with us 17 years, and there has never, ever, ever been a problem. … Do we want him to go? No. But it's an improvement for him."
Atherton said the commission has not decided on a process to replace Angle. But, he said, there's no reason to go looking very far afield. Angle, he said, has trained at least four employees to a level where they could step in and take over.
"As far as I'm concerned, we will never miss a beat," Atherton said.
Angle is a native of Pittsburgh who holds an associate's degree in fire science administration from Broward Community College in Fort Lauderdale, a bachelor's from the University of Cincinnati in fire science and safety engineering, and a master's degree in business administration from Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale.
He began his career in 1981 as a firefighter/paramedic with Hallandale Fire Rescue. He moved in 1984 to Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, where he stayed for four years until he became training/safety officer for South Trail Special Fire Control and Rescue District in Fort Myers. He was promoted to battalion chief and, in 1996, left South Trail to take over the lead position with Palm Harbor.
J.C. Brock, provost of the Allstate Center, where the SPC fire academy is headquartered, said Angle was chosen for his new position because of his blend of academic and practical knowledge. Angle, he said, is not only respected locally, but he has a national reputation for his work on the education and training of firefighters.
As program coordinator, Angle will be in charge of the daily activities of the academy.
Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450.