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Friday, May 25, 2018
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Zephyrhills fire chief resigns, citing ‘baseless attacks’

— Zephyrhills Fire Chief Verne Riggall submitted a resignation letter Friday morning, saying he could not continue in the job with “the baseless attacks of a vocal and aggressive minority” of firefighters.

His resignation will be effective Monday. The city council was expected Monday night to consider interim City Manager Steve Spina’s recommendation that Riggall be terminated.

Spina began an investigation of Riggall on May 1, Spina’s first day as interim city manager.

After Spina’s recommendation that Riggall be fired, the fire chief was placed on administrative leave pending the city council’s decision.

Spina cited “a mutual lack of concern and respect from both the chief and his employees.”

The city manager also said that “safety concerns resulting from staffing engines and squads” also were a problem.

He said that Riggall was “not properly equipping all units that leave the station and ensuring that adequate numbers of firefighters/EMT or paramedics are dispatched to a scene for the safety of the staff member and the public.”

Spina also cited problems stemming from “erratic hours and time sheet snafus.”

“Chief stated he sometimes would come to the station to suit his schedule – working around his wife’s activities is how he explained some of it – but it does not suit employee or management schedules. Department heads should be available during the day to respond to city council, the public, staff and the city manager and other department heads,” Spina said.

In resigning, Riggall wrote: “I think it’s fair to say that the baseless attacks of a vocal and aggressive minority of members of the department has made it impossible for me to continue to do my job. I cannot do my job when their primary focus is on attacking me personally and misrepresenting my actions and mission.”

Spina has recommended that current Assistant Fire Chief Daniel Spillman serve as interim fire chief.

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