Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg to take over fire protection services in High Point area

St. Petersburg will take over fire protection services for the eastern portion of the High Point Fire District, which includes such landmarks as Feather Sound, Pinellas Hope, the Pinellas County Jail and the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Airport.

The move could translate into lost jobs for Pinellas Park firefighters, who had been providing service to the unincorporated area under a contract with the county.

The county was paying Pinellas Park about $1.3 million a year to provide fire protection to the area from Fire Station 36 at 13801 Evergreen Ave. The county pays Largo $1.1 million a year for fire protection in western High Point.

Over the past few years, the county has managed to cut fire protection costs in some unincorporated areas by bidding out contracts. A few years ago, Lealman took over coverage in Tierra Verde from St. Petersburg. Last year, St. Petersburg took over coverage in part of unincorporated south Pinellas from South Pasadena.

Now, pending approval from the county commission, St. Petersburg will take over first response fire service in east High Point. St. Petersburg will receive about $900,000 a year, which is about $400,000 a year less than Pinellas Park. The changeover is scheduled for Oct. 1.

"It's going to save the county money. We're going to pick up efficiencies," St. Petersburg council chairman Karl Nurse said. "Everybody's trying to find ways to pick up efficiencies and so are we."

The news that St. Petersburg had won the bid came as an unwelcome surprise for Pinellas Park officials who say they were not even given a courtesy call from the county to tell them they'd lost the contract.

"They have not contacted us. We're waiting," Pinellas Park Interim fire Chief Guy Keirn said.

Pinellas Park has been asking the county for updates but the only response, he said, has been "we can't discuss it yet. We can't discuss it."

That's especially distressing, he said, because 12 jobs affecting up to 19 employees are on the line. Most of those, Keirn said, will likely be phased out through attrition.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450.

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