Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater fire Chief Geer in running to lead S.C. department

CLEARWATER — Fire Chief Jamie Geer is a finalist to lead the Charleston, S.C., fire department, a unit that lost more firefighters in a single event in 2007 than any in the nation since Sept. 11, 2001.

Geer, who has had a tumultuous relationship with Clearwater's fire union since coming here in 2004, is among seven finalists looking to succeed former Chief Rusty Thomas, who recently retired.

The seven will be in Charleston on Monday to meet with city officials and members of the City Council.

"Charleston presents a great opportunity to provide leadership to an excellent department, and one that's closer to my lifelong home," Geer said Friday in a written statement. "My candidacy is by no means a reflection of my feelings about Clearwater.

"I remain passionate about the work we've been doing to improve fire services here in Clearwater, and plan to continue that tradition of continuous improvement for as long as I am here with the city."

Charleston has 275 firefighters with no collective bargaining agreement, said Battalion Chief Raymond Lloyd of the Charleston Fire Department.

According to, Charleston's 2007 population was 110,015 while Clearwater's was 106,642.

Charleston was the scene of tragedy in June 2007 when nine Charleston firefighters died after a roof collapsed as they were fighting a furniture warehouse fire.

John Lee, president of Clearwater's fire union, said he would not recommend Geer.

"He's lost everything he's handled," he said. "I don't think he's been very successful here."

Geer's tenure in Clearwater has been marred by infighting with the union.

In May 2006, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission determined that Geer discriminated against a female firefighter by not allowing her to take a makeup promotion exam, though he did allow a male firefighter to do so. The city paid $75,000 this summer to settle the matter.

On three occasions in 2006, state hearing officers upheld union complaints that Geer or other city officials violated members' rights to conduct union business. Last year, three federal arbitrations ruled that the city failed to follow proper procedures when firing two paramedics and a fire inspector. All three employees returned to work.

Clearwater Mayor Frank Hibbard is in Geer's corner.

"If that's something he's selected for and he takes the position," Hibbard said, "we wish him the best of luck."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Clearwater fire Chief Geer in running to lead S.C. department 09/19/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 24, 2008 7:39pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'


    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  2. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store


    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  3. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108