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. Southern heritage groups sue to keep Confederate monument at old Tampa courthouse

    Local Government

    TAMPA — Groups that say they support Southern heritage filed a lawsuit late Friday trying to halt the removal of a Confederate statue from downtown Tampa.

    Workers place boards around a Confederate monument on Hillsborough County property in Tampa on Thursday, August 17, 2017. It took 24 hours to raise private funds in order to move the statue from its current location.
  2. Bucs mull options at right tackle as Dotson awaits MRI


    Right tackle Demar Dotson, the Bucs' most experienced offensive lineman, will undergo an MRI on his injured groin Saturday, three weeks before the season opener.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneer Demar Dotson, offensive tackle, brought his coffee and breakfast to One Buc Place, 7/31/15, as he reported to training camp.
  3. For starters: Rays vs. Mariners, with another new look


    Having lost 11 of their last 14 games and dropping to a season-worst four games under .500 at 60-64, the Rays continue to search for ways to get out of their extended offensive slump.

    And with the M's starting LHP Ariel Miranda today, that means another new look to the lineup, which includes having struggling …

  4. Chasing 125: Bucs hope to hit rushing goal more often


    Ever so often, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter pulls back the curtain a bit and shares some of the stats that matter to him most as a coach.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017.
  5. Two Boca Ciega students arrested on charges they brought gun to high school football game


    PINELLAS PARK — Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for having a loaded semi-automatic handgun with them at a Friday night football game at Pinellas Park High School.

    Two Boca Ciega High School students were arrested for bringing a weapon on school property on Friday night at a high school football game at Pinellas Park High School.