Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Belleair Bluffs fires its fire chief

BELLEAIR BLUFFS — The fire chief of this town lost his job Wednesday at the end of a meeting peppered with accusations of conspiracy and complaints by citizens outraged because they were not allowed to speak.

It was clear that Belleair Bluffs Mayor Chris Arbutine had the necessary votes to oust fire Chief Patrick Competelli, but none of the council members would make the motion. Arbutine finally gave up the gavel and did it himself. The final vote was 3-2 with council members Jack Nazario and Hunt Brand siding with the mayor. Suzy Sofer and Joseph Barkley voted no.

"I'm disappointed. I feel like I did an excellent job while I was here," Competelli said.

The decision to fire Competelli came at the end of several months' strife over a proposal to disband the Belleair Bluffs Fire Department and have Largo take over. Competelli supported the proposal when it was first made in June, but on Monday he wrote a memo saying that the idea was bad and would endanger lives.

Arbutine saw that as a failure to carry out the wishes of the council, which were to prepare the department for the changeover should voters agree to disband it in a Sept. 1 referendum. But Competelli said he changed his stance in reaction to misinformation being given to the public and the mayor's attempts to make it difficult for the department to continue should the referendum fail.

Sofer had harsh words for the mayor, saying she would "not be part of any conspiracy to get rid of the Belleair Bluffs fire chief or the Belleair Bluffs Fire Department."

Competelli and Sofer were applauded, but audience members were angered when they were not allowed to talk, crying out such comments as "we ought to have a say-so" and "you call this a democracy?"

Belleair Bluffs fires its fire chief 08/05/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 10:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida education news: Start times, scholarships, school choice and more


    START TIMES: Hillsborough County schools get new bell schedules for 2018-19, with high schools starting an hour later than in the past. Officials said the move is …

  2. Pasco students get opportunity to tackle big-picture issues


    LAND O'LAKES — At first, Krysten Hart wasn't sure what she was getting herself into.

    Wesley Chapel High senior Emily Prengaman discusses ways to improve graduation rates with Sunlake High principal Michael Cloyd and other teens from around the school district during Pasco County's first student congress. [Photo by Jeffrey S. Solochek]
  3. Forecast: Another windy, cooler day throughout Tampa Bay, but with less rain


    Tampa Bay residents can expect another breezy day throughout the region but less rain heading through Wednesday.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  4. Going cheap on shutters, generator can do more harm than good in hurricane season

    Human Interest

    Those piles of branches snapped off by the hurricane finally are disappearing from the front of homes in the Tampa Bay area, one last reminder of the bullet many dodged by not preparing properly for the day when a storm may hit the region head on.

    Yvette Sedeno, 62, left, and Ray Sedeno, 62, install storm shutters on their  lanai south of Miami while preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irma in September. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Times]
  5. Buccaneers WR Mike Evans previews 2017-18 NBA season, predicts Warriors will be dethroned


    Tampa isn't the greatest basketball market. In fact, it's just about the worst.

    Mike Evans and Jameis Winston celebrate after connecting for a touchdown against the Bears in September. [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]