The St. Petersburg Fire Department became a paid force in 1907, after many years as a volunteer department. The first fire station in St. Petersburg is today the McNulty Building, (named for the department's second Fire Chief) and is now a historic office building in the heart of downtown. This building once housed St. Petersburg's first “fire trucks”; horse-drawn carriages. Today, St. Petersburg has 30 pieces of firefighting apparatus,12 fire stations, and a force of 310 firefighters and paramedics.
In 1993, the St. Petersburg Fire Department changed its name to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue to better reflect the high volume of emergency medical services provided in addition to fire suppression activities. St. Petersburg Fire Rescue also provides specialized life safety services by staffing three specialty teams. The Technical Rescue Team is housed in our Northshore Fire Station and is outfitted to respond to elevated, below-grade, confined-space, and structural collapse rescues. The Hazardous Materials Team responds out of our Downtown Master Fire Station to spills and releases of toxic substances, liquids, or gases countywide. Our Dive and Marine Rescue Team, located at our Lakewood Fire Station, is staffed by certified rescue divers and responds to rescue victims of emergencies on St. Petersburg's many waterways.
Our A, B and C shifts work 24-hours on duty and 48 hours off, and are managed by 6 District Chiefs. Each “DC” is responsible for a designated area of the City. Each shift also has 1 rescue lieutenant responding to complex medical calls, overseeing patient care.
Our downtown Fire Headquarters building houses a heavy equipment repair shop, and offices for over 40 administrative personnel, including 5 Division Chiefs and the Fire Chief. Headquarters is also home to our Fire Inspectors, Public Educators, Training Coordinators, Accountants, Computer Services and Office Systems Specialists who work behind the scenes of St. Petersburg Fire Rescue. The headquarters building transforms into an Emergency Operations Center in times of crisis.
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue protects the lives and property of over 260,000 residents and responds to over 40,000 emergency incidents annually.
- Why do the fire fighters cut holes in the walls ?
- They have to be absolutely certain that the fire is completely out and that fire is not hidden inside the walls or other places. They try to do the least amount of damage to insure that the structure is safe.
- Why are the windows broken or holes cut in the roof ?
- As a fire burns, it moves upward then outward. Breaking the windows and/or cutting holes in the roof, which is called ventilation, stops the damaging outward movement and enables fire fighters to fight the fire more efficiently, resulting in less fire damage to the structure.
- How can I obtain a copy of the fire report ?
- Because a fire report is a public document, a copy may be obtained at the Fire Department Headquarters: 400 Dr. Martin Luther King Street South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, Monday - Friday from 8am to 5pm.
Click on a Chief for more Information
Fire Chief James D. Large
James Dean Large joined St. Petersburg Fire & Rescue in 1974 and was appointed Chief in 2006. As chief, he oversees the 355 employees in the Fire Administration, Prevention, Operations, Rescue, Emergency Management, and Training Departments.
Chief Large graduated with honors with two associate's degrees in Fire Science (suppression and prevention), has a bachelor's with distinction in Organizational Studies, and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). He is also a graduate of the Eckerd College Management Development Institute's Leadership Development Program and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership St. Pete Program. He has completed six courses of study at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and holds state certifications as a Firefighter, an Emergency Medical Technician, and a Fire Safety Inspector. He holds the National Fire Protection Association's certification as a Certified Fire Protection Specialist (CFPS).
The Commission on Chief Fire Officer Designation has designated Chief Large as a Chief Fire Officer (CFO). He has received plaques of appreciation for his role as president of Tampa Bay Fire Marshals Association and the Chair of the 2003 Leadership St. Pete Class. Chief Large currently serves on the board of directors for the St. Petersburg Municipal Employees Credit Union, and is a member of the Florida Fire Chiefs' Association, International Association of Fire Chiefs, Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs, and Pinellas County Fire Chiefs Association. He is a past board member of the Police Athletic League and the Pinellas County Construction and Licensing Board and served on the planning committee for Leadership St. Pete from 2000 through 2004.
Assistant Fire Chief Robert Bassett
Assistant Chief Bassett joined St. Petersburg Fire Rescue in 1992 and served as a Field Training Officer from 1998-2006. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1998, Captain in 2006, Division Chief/Fire Marshal in 2009, and Assistant Fire Chief in December of 2012. He oversees the Operations Division which includes 312 of the 326 sworn uniformed employees for the department. This division is responsible for all emergency activities and oversight of the department's three specialty response teams: Hazardous Materials, Marine Rescue, and Technical Rescue.
His certifications include Fire Instructor III, Fire Officer I, Fire Inspector I, and Emergency Medical Technician. Chief Bassett is a 2007 graduate of St. Petersburg College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Safety Administration. He was honored as EMT of the Year in 1993 and the Fire Officer of the Year in 2003. Chief Bassett is currently a member of the Pinellas County Fire Marshal Association, State of Florida Fire Marshal and Inspectors Association, National Fire Protection Association, Florida Fire Chiefs Association, and the SPC Public Safety Advisory Board.
Division Chief of Safety and Training, Chief Bruni
Division Chief Joe Bruni was appointed to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue in 1988 and is the Chief of the Safety and Training Division. He served as a firefighter and driver/engineer and rose through the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain prior to his promotion to Division Chief in 2009. As a Division Chief, he oversees four employees assigned to the Safety and Training Division, and he is assigned as the department Health and Safety Program Manager. He is a Florida State certified Fire Officer I, Florida certified Fire Instructor III, and Florida certified Emergency Medical Technician. He has performed as a Field Training Officer, Hazardous Materials Technician, and a member of the department Technical Rescue Team. Chief Bruni is also a member of the Pinellas County Training Officers Group. He is an adjunct instructor for St. Petersburg College Fire Academy, St. Petersburg College Fire Science Program, and Pinellas Technical Education Center. He is a member of the St. Petersburg College Fire Training Center Advisory Committee.
Chief Bruni graduated with honors with a degree in Fire Science Administration from St. Petersburg College, has a bachelor’s degree with distinction in Organizational Studies from Eckerd College, and obtained with honors a Masters in Education with a concentration in Public Administration from Troy State University.
Division Chief of Emergency Prepardness & Management
Division Chief Robert J. Ballou is in charge of the Emergency Management and Fire Administration Division. He is a State certified Fire Officer, Fire Inspector, Water Rescue Diver, and is CISD trained. He is also a State and County certified Emergency Medical Technician. His education includes two associate's degrees from St. Petersburg Junior College, one in General Education and the other in Fire Science, and a bachelor's degree in Public Safety Administration from Eckerd College.
Chief Ballou was promoted to Lieutenant in 1988, to Captain in 1994, and to Division Chief in 2000. He has also served as a shift Field Training Officer and as the Tactical Rescue Team Supervisor. Chief Ballou has been a member of St. Petersburg Fire Rescue for 22 years.
Division Chief / Fire Marshal Michael F Domante
Michael F. Domante joined St. Petersburg Fire Rescue in 1989 and served as a Firefighter/EMT until 1993 when he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. As a Lieutenant, he joined the Hazardous Materials Team and continued to serve in that capacity until he was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1997. As a Captain, he served at several different fire stations as well as Fire Headquarters. While serving as the Captain of the Central Oak Park Fire Station, he was directly involved with the design and construction of the current facility. In 2010, he was promoted to the ranked of District Chief assigned to oversee activities on the North half of the city. In 2013, he was promoted to the rank of Division Chief and assumed the duties of the Fire Marshal for the city of St. Petersburg.
Chief Domante holds associate’s degrees in General Education as well as Fire Administration from St. Petersburg College. He also received a bachelor’s degree with honors in Public Safety Administration from St. Petersburg College. He is a graduate of the Eckerd College Management Development Institute's Leadership Development Program and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership St. Pete Program. He has completed multiple course work through the Florida State Fire College, as well as the National Fire Academy. He is currently certified by the state of Florida as a Firefighter, Emergency Medical Technician, Fire Officer I, and Fire Safety Inspector. His organizational involvement includes the Muscular Dystrophy Association, the United Way, The Florida Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association, the Florida Fire Chiefs Association, and the National Fire Protection Association.
Parades have always been a part of our annual celebration.
This photo is of a fire boat given to the department by the Coast Guard in the early 1950's. It was nicknamed Suicide Susan
Fire Chief J. T. McNulty, 1912-1936
Miss Flame 1962 during Fire Prevention Week.
This photo is from Fire Prevention Week 1962 during the parade.
In 1991, firefighters from Russia visited SPFR.
Fire House Magazine: August 1998 cover, Firefighters from Station 1 attack an arson fire in February 1998
A Chief's Best Friend
Chief Callahan poses with Sparky the Fire Dog.
The St. Petersburg Fire Department had its beginning as a volunteer fire fighting company as far back in history as the late 1890's. The first building acquired to house equipment was a shed on Central Avenue and Fifth Street. This was the beginning of the Alert Hose Company No.1. Their next “station” was the Blocker's Livery Barn, with a staff of five members headed by J. C. Williams. As the city and the fire company grew, new equipment was added, including a chemical cart and new fire hose. The need for still a better organization was evidenced in 1907 when the volunteer firemen were unable to save the Colonial Hotel. Later that same year, the volunteer fire department was disbanded and the City employed a paid force.
Chiefs Anderson and McNulty
The newly organized force was headed by G. W. Anderson. During his term, headquarters was moved first to Anderson's Meat Market and later to Fire Station No. 1, which was built in 1911, at Third Street and Second Avenue South. The first horse-drawn steam engine was purchased during this period. The horses, Dick and Dan, are mentioned often in remaining records. Following Chief Anderson's death in 1912, J. T. McNulty was appointed Chief and served until 1936. Two more stations were added by this time. The increased efficiency of the fire department was shown by a report that the fire loss in St. Petersburg was relatively small, considering the size of the town and the number of wooden buildings.
Chief McNulty was succeeded by A. H. Tuthill, who served until the appointment of Claude Nesbit. In 1939, the National Board of Fire Underwriters, in its first report since 1926, reported that an increase in manpower over the 46 man force was needed. New equipment was also identified as a necessity. Nesbit remained Chief until 1952.
The city had grown to over fifty-eight square miles. The department had fifty-seven employees working out of six stations. During S. O. Griffith's term as Chief, 1952 until 1962, the city added two more stations and a snorkel truck for high rise rescue.
The appointment of Chief Z. C. Greenway in 1962 marked the first use of written and oral tests to fill departmental vacancies. The position of Assistant Chief was filled by rotating various Deputy Chiefs through the office. Station #10 was built, more personnel were added to the training staff, and programs in civil preparedness and communications were set up.
After Chief Greenway's retirement in 1980, the City's first “outside” Chief was appointed. L. Trujillo came to St. Petersburg from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Although his term was only 20 months, he brought a different perspective of fire administration to this department.
J. G. Knight retired from the St. Petersburg Fire Department after 21 years. He retired as the Assistant Chief of Operations. After a short term as Chief of the Largo Fire Department, he returned to St. Petersburg as Chief in January 1983. Chief Knight lead the Fire & Rescue Department for thirteen years. Under his direction, a commitment was made to being a leader in every aspect of fire protection, emergency management, and emergency medical service. The department changed its name in 1993 to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue to better reflect the services provided to the community.
James K. Callahan was promoted through the ranks and served as Assistant Chief for St. Petersburg Fire Rescue until 1990, when he assumed the position of Fire Chief in Hillsborough County. Chief Callahan returned to St. Petersburg in March 1996 as Fire Chief. He serve the City until January of 2006, when he retired to accept a position with the Monroe County Fire Department.
James D. Large was hired in 1974. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1979, captain in 1982, district chief in 1985, and assistant chief in 1991. He served in both assistant chief positions, Operations and Fire Marshal, before his appointment to Fire Chief in February of 2006. He continues the long tradition of excellence in the fire and life safety service provided to the citizens of St. Petersburg.
In St. Petersburg, thirteen (13) fire stations provide fire and emergency services, along with a number of specialty teams including: Hazardous Materials Response, Technical Rescue, and Marine Unit. The department has grown to over 350 personnel responding to more than 40,000 emergency calls per year.
St. Petersburg Fire Rescue is committed to serve all citizens of our community by promoting, protecting and improving their health, safety and quality of life through exceptional emergency service and education.
Five years from now, St. Petersburg Fire Rescue will be recognized by local businesses, residents, and regional fire agencies as a progressive, well-trained and customer-centered fire rescue organization which places a high premium on quality service.
Our workforce culture will reflect a respectful team atmosphere that is nurtured by fair practices, open communication processes and up-to-date procedures which guide the decisions of our personnel. Our mission will be accomplished by a physically fit, healthy, and increasingly diverse work force, well-trained in a multitude of specialized skills and empowered with a high level of involvement in our success. We will work within a structured planning process that identifies and works toward accomplishing agreed upon priorities and needs. We will strive for low employee turnover by maintaining and exceeding market value compensation, providing opportunities for employee growth and development, valuing individual input and providing for the safety of the employee.We will honor our community’s trust by providing the most effective, efficient and fiscally responsible services possible to all population groups, with growing emphasis on our customers with special needs. By improving our distribution and concentration of response forces and facilities and by ensuring a fleet of state of the art apparatus, all areas of the community will receive quality service which meets or exceeds our customers’ expectations. We believe in getting out of the station and into the community. We will expand our community information initiatives with the media and customer feedback programs so that our organizational priorities, philosophy and operations are clearly understood by our residents.
Through improved external relationships, we will explore all opportunities for fire and rescue service delivery, while expending time and energy toward developing the best strategy for providing quality emergency medical services to our community. We will meet or exceed national best practices thereby ensuring that St. Petersburg Fire Rescue is a responsible and professional organization.