Thursday, July 19, 2018
Public safety

Pinellas Suncoast Fire District hires chief

INDIAN ROCKS BEACH — Mike Burton, currently the chief at Tamarac Fire Rescue near Fort Lauderdale, will be the next Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District chief. He will take over the fire district that covers Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and the unincorporated Oakhurst area. He will start Oct. 9, said fire district commission chairman Joe Bruni.

Commissioners chose him this month because of his extensive experience as a fire chief and his familiarity with Pinellas County. According to his resume, he worked as a chief starting in 1999 in Grand Rapids, Mich., then in Greenville, N.C., before going to Tamarac. He started his career in 1975 at the St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue Department, where he rose to assistant fire chief of operations.

He also was the only candidate out of the 40 applicants who was familiar with the district's current happenings, Bruni said.

"He knew more about the fire district and surrounding area and communities around us than any of the other candidates," Bruni said.

Burton is taking over for Chief Salvatore D'Angelo, who announced in June he was resigning to take a job as executive director of the North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District. The district is poised to start collecting a property tax for the first time, but the legality of the referendum voters approved last year authorizing the district to collect the tax is still in question while a lawsuit challenging the wording moves through the court system.

The district wants to use the tax revenue to, among other things, move Fire Station 26 in Indian Shores to a permanent home. Burton wrote in his cover letter that as the chief in Tamarac, he oversaw demolition and reconstruction of a fire station. He added that he has experience working with other governments and communities — necessary in Pinellas County's web of cities and fire districts.

"I take pride in developing effective professional relationships with elected officials, neighboring fire departments, regional partners and labor leaders," he wrote.

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