ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) — St. Petersburg Fire Rescue Chief James Large has been placed administrative leave.

According to a memo from St. Pete Mayor Ken Welch, “after numerous conversations and feedback received from multiple individuals, along with the allegations made and information received in the Employee Climate Survey, as well as other information received, Chief James Large is placed on Administrative Leave effective immediately.”

Mayor Welch asked the city’s nearly 3,600 employees to complete a confidential survey about workplace environment in July. The city said 44% or about 1,500 workers completed the survey.

Some employees wrote negative comments about the fire department and accused Chief Large of disdain for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as a lack of an inclusive workplace and diversity.

According to the St. Petersburg Fire Rescue website, Large has been with the department since 1974.

A city spokesperson shared this Statement Mayor Welch: “St. Petersburg Fire Chief James Large has been placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately. I understand there will be more questions revolving around this action, but at this time, this is a personnel matter. It is important to underscore our executive team members are held to the highest standards and the administration did not take this decision lightly. The City will continue its assessment and evaluation of all circumstances while weighing the facts and information received via the Employee Climate Survey and thereafter. St. Petersburg Fire Rescue has always and will continue to deliver outstanding Fire and EMS services to protect the health and wellbeing of our community. Every day, we are thankful to our hardworking team members for their willingness to serve and unwavering commitment to duty and integrity. Assistant Fire Chief Robert Bassett has agreed to serve as Acting Fire Chief in the interim.”

Over the weekend, Councilmember Richie Flloyd posted on social media and wrote: “I’m grateful for Chief Large’s faithful service to our city, but nothing is more important than dignity on the job. It’s for this reason that I believe it’s time for a change in leadership, & our fire department employees should have the first say in who their next leader is.”

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