Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

County set to cut $1.3 million from Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue

County officials severely cut hundreds of thousands of dollars from Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue's emergency medical services budget and they're getting ready to slash even more.

They say the decision is justified because it will eliminate overlapping services and save county taxpayers about $1.3 million in all. But some firefighters may lose their jobs.

"It is incumbent upon us to make sure all our citizens' money is spent wisely," said Dick Williams, the county's director of emergency medical services and fire administration.

Pinellas Suncoast fire Chief Rusty Livernois could not be reached for comment.

If the deal goes through, it would be just one of many changes in fire and EMS service around the county. Voters in Belleair Bluffs are scheduled to vote Sept. 1 on whether they want Largo to take over fire service there. And Lealman is negotiating with Pinellas to take over service to Tierra Verde, a contract long held by St. Petersburg.

The county has been in a cost cutting mode for the past couple of years as it has faced budget shortages with the advent of Amendment One, the downturn in the economy and the slump in property values. Last year, the County Commission decided to stop paying Pinellas Suncoast the $427,152 for emergency medical services provided by Fire Station 28, at 13501 94th Ave. N, in the Oakhurst area of unincorporated Pinellas.

Station 28, they said, is less than a mile from Station 31, at 13091 88th Ave. N, which is run by the city of Seminole. Between them, the two stations run only a handful of emergency calls a day. Service would not be affected because 31 could easily handle all the calls in that area.

That's similar to the argument the county is now making about Fire Station 26, also run by Pinellas Suncoast. Closing Station 26, at 17715 Gulf Blvd., would save an estimated $800,000 a year, Williams said.

And the workload could be easily taken up by three other nearby stations: Stations 31, 27 and 25. Station 25, at 300 Municipal Drive in Madeira Beach, is run by that beach city's department. Station 27, at 304 First St. in Indian Rocks Beach, is run by Pinellas Suncoast.

Seminole fire Chief Dan Graves said the proposal makes financial sense. Considering the current economic situation, Graves said, "you just can't justify continuing to do things the way they have been."

The extra workload won't make a difference, he said. Many fire stations run a lot more calls a day than come out of the Pinellas Suncoast area. Seminole Station 29, for example, runs more calls than the entire Pinellas Suncoast district does and provides good service, he said.

Williams said it will take a vote of the County Commission to make the change happen. It is unclear when that will be, but it will likely be soon. Williams said he wants the change to go into effect Oct. 1 when the new fiscal year begins.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at (727) 893-8450 or

County set to cut $1.3 million from Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue 07/21/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 11:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Shooting sends man to hospital in St. Pete


    ST. PETERSBURG — Police were investigating a shooting that occurred around 4:40 p.m. on Tuesday and sent a man to the hospital.

  2. Police: Man tries to lure child with puppy in Polk County


    Times staff

    HAINES CITY — A man was arrested Sunday after he tried to entice a young girl into his camper to view a puppy, according to police.

    Dale Collins, 63, faces a charge of luring or enticing a child under the age of 12. [Photo courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Scaramucci on leaks: 'I'm going to fire everybody'


    WASHINGTON — Anthony Scaramucci, President Donald Trump's new communications director, vowed Tuesday to purge the White House staff of disloyal aides in an effort to crack down on leaks, as another member of the press staff resigned from a West Wing reeling from an unfolding shake-up.

  4. Editorial: Coming together to reduce car thefts


    The simple, knee-jerk response to the juvenile car theft epidemic in Pinellas County would be to crack down on offenders with an increased police presence and stiffer sentences. Thankfully, local community leaders did not stop there. As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its 
As detailed in a recent Tampa Bay Times follow-up to its "Hot Wheels" investigation into youth car thefts, a variety of ideas from multiple directions increases the odds of actually solving the cause and not just treating the symptoms.

  5. Editorial: Floridians' health care now at risk in Washington


    The health care for millions of Floridians is now at risk. The U.S. Senate's dramatic vote Tuesday to begin debate on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act with no idea what will happen is a dangerous gamble with American lives and the national economy. Barring an unexpected bipartisan compromise, a handful of …

    Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., dramatically returned to the Senate for the first time since his brain cancer was diagnosed and cast the key vote that enabled Vice President Mike Pence to break the 50-50 tie and allow the health care debate to proceed.