Clearwater’s fire chief has been fired after his arrest on capital sexual battery charges.
Jamie Geer, 56, was arrested by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) Monday after a four-month investigation into allegations of sexual battery on a person less than 12 years of age. The crime is a capital felony and, if convicted, Geer could earn life in prison.
The FDLE began investigating Geer, who lives in Dunedin, in August after receiving an anonymous tip that he had an inappropriate relationship with a minor.
Investigators say they learned Geer had numerous sexual encounters with the female victim – now 17 years old – over the past nine years.
He currently faces one count of sexual battery on a person less than 12 years of age and was booked into the Pinellas County Jail. Bond was set at $500,000.
FDLE won’t identify the victim but continues to investigate Geer to see if he had inappropriate relationships with any other minors.
Geer is recently divorced and had two stepchildren.
Shortly after Geer’s arrest, the City of Clearwater terminated his position as the city’s fire chief. Geer has been with the Clearwater Fire Department since August 2004 and came to the department from Tennessee.
“This has nothing to do with the City of Clearwater,” said Jim Madden, Special Agent in Charge of FDLE’s Tampa Bay Regional Operations Center. “It just so happened (Clearwater) is where he worked.”
Deputy Chief Robert Weiss was announced as the interim fire chief.
Geer was hired as fire chief on Aug. 23, 2004. He joined Clearwater Fire & Rescue in the wake of criticism about the department’s handling of a June 2002 blaze at the Dolphin Cove Condominium that killed two people and injured seven others, including three firefighters.
Former Chief Rowland Herald resigned in 2004 after 25 years with the department. A report released months earlier criticized the department’s handling of the Dolphin Cove fire, faulting firefighters for using only one radio channel, which mangled communications, and also blamed a resident for not calling 911 earlier.
According to a message Geer posted on the department’s website, “Leadership skills and experience don’t mean anything if your team members won’t line up behind you and say, ‘OK, let’s go.’ For me, that’s priority number one. What I enjoy most is the sense of pride when people belong to a fire service organization where employees are happy to come to work and perform their best.”
House fire in Moncton, New Brunswick: A vacant home caught fire Sunday at High and Gordon.
Information Communications Standstill?: Bellingham, Washington’s Bill Boyd is a fire chief who believes timely and effective communications with the public during a crisis is not one of those things you leave to chance. Chief Boyd has given it a lot of thought and is concerned a slow approval process through ICS for getting out information may not work well in today’s environment of cell phone cameras and social media. Read why Chief Boyd thinks, ”The IC needs to immediately set policy, validate key real time message concepts and then do the most important thing- let the PIO loose to do their job”. Click here for his guest column.
Lobeline Communications provided this picture after a United Airlines 757 heading from New York to Los Angeles Sunday evening diverted to Dulles International Airport. Passengers reported a smell of smoke and saw a fire extinguisher being taken into the cockpit. Click the image for more photos & details from WUSA9.com.
Early video from Detroit arson spree brings out the comments: A photographer pulled up before the first engine as two homes burned last Thursday during a mid-day arson spree that resulted in the arrest of a group of juveniles. The video has our readers divided into two camps over what they are seeing. Watch it here.
Six-alarm fire in Boston in 1996: Another of those nice videos from retired overnight photographer Bill Harrigan. Check it out.
Firefighters say chemical fire impacted their health: In Cincinnati firefighters point to a 2004 fire involving chemicals at Queen City Barrel as being behind medical problems facing a number of firefighters. Click here to read and watch the story.
Minimum training standards with lots of holes: In Tennessee, some chiefs say they didn’t realize there county had been made exempt from new standards that require 16 hours of training before getting on a fire truck and a basic firefighting course within three years. There are also exceptions for those who already have five years of experience. Read the details.
Massachusetts training scandal widens: Haverhill is the latest to keep some of its firefighters from handling EMS duties as investigations continue into claims recertification certificates were handed out without the proper training occurring. Here is the update.
Well, it wasn’t like they were going to save any of them: I used to play Jim Stafford’s song with the line, “I don’t like spiders and snakes” when I was a disc jockey centuries ago. That summed up my feelings about such critters. One museum I wasn’t ever likely to visit was in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Until the weekend it housed the world’s largest collection of dead spiders and snakes. Fire has destroyed the collection. Read more.
Four rescued at 3-alarm hotel fire in Texas: An Austin firefighter heading from one fire station to another spotted the burning hotel on I-35. He got the first of four people out of windows as fire spread through the roof around noon on Sunday. News reports indicate a man has confessed to starting the fire. We have lots of video from the fire.
A matter of inches: Firegeezer has the details on how everyone came out relatively unscathed after a plane struck a house on take off in Clearwater, Florida.
Was fatigue a factor in firefighter’s crash that killed three people on bicycles?: Speed and alcohol have been ruled out in Friday’s crash involving a volunteer firefighter in Quebec who just got off a night shift. Here’s the story.
Firefighter dies three years after massive explosion: Many of you will recall the tragic explosion at a convenience store in Ghent, West Virginia in 2007. One of the first responders, Donnie Caldwell, a Cool Ridge volunteer firefighter, has died. The death is being blamed on complications from injuries received during the blast. Billy Goldfeder has more at Firefighter Close Calls.
How many emergency communications centers does it take to handle an emergency?: In Orange County, New York a U.S. senator’s request for a million dollar ECC in the Village of Kiryas Joel has some people upset. They point out the county has a brand new ECC. Read more.
Explosions at gun factory leave two dead: Investigators believe the fire started in machinery at the plant in Colebrook, New Hampshire on Friday. Check out the coverage.
A brother firefighter under attack: Oh the humanity! An outrage in Georgia as some professional wrestlers gang up on a poor innocent Heard County firefighter. This feud apparently will be settled in a match on May 29th.
A Gary house fire: The photographer and the first engine caught this house fire early. It was in the 2600 block of East 22nd. No date given.
Firefighters accused of sharing medical records of chief’s wife: From Jackson Township, Ohio, three firefighters are facing internal charges after records from a call where the fire chief’s wife said she was being choked were distributed. Here’s the story.
Chief says firefighters did everything possible in double fatal fire: Chief Stan Smoke in Wenatchee, Washington says an internal investigation backs the actions of firefighters at an apartment fire earlier this month where two elderly woman died. The family of 87-year-old Elsie Reiswig has been wondering why a firefighter who climbed a ladder and talked to the woman at her window didn’t immediately take her down that ladder. Instead, the firefighter apparently climbed back down to drop off tools, “conferred with other firefighters about what to do and then climbed back up the ladder to start taking Reiswig out the window.” By then the woman had walked out through the hallway. She died the next day of a heart attack. Click here for more on Chief Smoke’s findings from the Wenatchee World.
Fear in Flint: No overnight report yet on Flint, Michigan, a day after a series of nine fires in vacant building. The fires came hours before the first layoffs of 23 firefighters took place. The two firefighters injured in those blazes were among those on the layoff list. Two firehouses are scheduled to close today, leaving just four stations. The mayor reacts to the fires saying they appear to have been set for some ”perverted political purpose”. With fewer firefighters and police to deal with an arsonist on the loose, residents aren’t happy. Read the story here and here. Watch the story.
Firefighters and mayor battle it out in Wilkes-Barre, PA: The latest on the reduction of minimum staffing and closing of companies as the two sides square off very publicly at a city council meeting. Here’s the story.
Sex, fire and presidential politics all come together in North Carolina: A significant fire has hit the courthouse in Chatham County which has been the site of a dispute over a video purportedly showing John Edwards in a sexual encounter. Even though his story doesn’t mention that fact, you know Firegeezer had a gut feeling there was something sleazy in there (he finds those stories even when he isn’t trying). Most important is that Bill has the video and the fire details. Click here.
Deputy chief awakened from daylight nap shoots woman: Police say the woman tried to burglarize the home of Philadelphia Fire Department Deputy Chief Robert Wilkins yesterday. Apparently not understanding that some people work shift work and sleep during the day, the woman soon was on the receiving end of the chief’s gun. Click here for the story.
F-bombs by chief officer to other chief officer found offensive and lead to discipline: In Clearwater, Florida, Division Chief Richard Riley, formerly of the Washington, DC area, gets three days off for they way he handled a problem with another chief officer. But it is clear by the article in the St. Petersburg Times that problems run a little deeper than a few four letter words in a department that has long had some well publicized unrest. Here’s the latest.
Another firm apparently turned down medical flight that led to crash: Click here for coverage of yesterday’s helicopter crash that killed a crew of three in Brownsville, Tennessee.
PALS recert records lead to firings in Trenton: We forgot to give you this one yesterday, but there is trouble for a group of paramedics who are being accused of falsifying pediatric ALS certifications and have been fired by Capital Health Emergency Medical Services. Read the details.
This is different: It is a time lapse video of a day in the life of the Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company in Loudoun County, Virginia. It was put together by Photo 601 Steve Kusterer.
Firefighter Cory Broich has been in the hospital since he was hit by a car on I-94 in Clearwater while responding to a car fire in January. On Tuesday, three weeks to the day after the accident, he was able to go home.
“See ya! Thanks for everything ladies,” said Cory as he was wheeled out of St. Cloud Hospital.
It’s been three weeks since he’s seen anything but the inside of his hospital room. Believe it or not, it was worth the wait. Cory didn’t know it, but he would be met by emergency vehicles from eleven different departments on his trip home.
“That was the most incredible thing I think I’ve ever seen,” said Cory.
The Clearwater Firefighter was hurt on the job, and in true firefighter-fashion, no man is left behind.
“Everyone stays safe and everybody comes home. And, now finally today, we can say everybody came home,” said Clearwater Fire Chief Doug Nieters.
Few of us will ever know the impact we have on someone else’s life. Cory and Abby Broich are getting a pretty good idea right now just how much they mean to this community.
“You just see it all and you’re kind of speechless,” said Cory.
Since Thursday, when they found out he was coming home, people have been remodeling the Broich’s home. They added a ramp in the garage, they widened doors to fit his wheelchair and even changed the entire bathroom to make it accessible.
“The one night I came home and I just sat down and cried,” said Abby. “I mean you can’t thank them enough. You can’t express how you feel.”
It means Cory can now recover in his own home instead of a nursing home. Abby is in charge of his care, she learned how to do it all in the hospital. It’s a role she’s more than happy to take over.
“We’re home. that’s what we needed,” said Abby.
There is a fund set up for the Broichs at Annandale State Bank in Clearwater.
Cory Broich is thankful to be able to be with his family after he was nearly killed in Interstate 94 last week.
Broich sat in his hospital bed in St. Cloud Sunday with his wife and five kids surrounding him.
He picked up his 3-month-old son Carter and gave him a kiss. It’s a moment he’s all too happy to experience.
“Very too close to call,” said Cory referring to the accident that nearly took his life last Tuesday.
Cory Broich was on a routine call on Interstate 94 near Clearwater last week when a passing car hit and pinned him against the fire truck. He was airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital with extensive injuries to his legs.
“I remember getting hit, and hitting the ground and crawling away so I didn’t get hit again,” said Cory.
The 28-year-old will be in hospital for at least three more weeks, and at this point, doctors don’t know when he’ll walk again. For the first time in Cory’s life, he’s not the one giving, but receiving help.
“It means the absolute world to me what everybody’s been doing,” he said fighting back tears. “I can’t say enough.”
The visitor’s waiting room just down the hall at St. Cloud Hospital is always full, even with people who don’t know the Broichs.
“I just wanted to stop by and see his friends and family and tell them our thoughts and prayers are with them and we’re here for them,” said Jason Smith with the Big Lake Fire Department.
A benefit was held Sunday night at Flintstone’s in Clearwater.
“Support another firefighter. We’re a brotherhood so we want to help Cory our whatever way we can,” said Eric Linn, Chief of the Avon, Minnesota Fire Department. He and several members of his department drove in for the event.
Webster’s couldn’t write a better definition for the word community than the one that played out Sunday in this tiny Minnesota town.
“We had the extra money and they needed it way more than we did,” said Sheryl Miller. She doesn’t know the family but felt the need to help.
The Broich’s will only dwell on the accident long enough to teach others a lesson.
“Hopefully this will bring a light to some people and get them to see and realize and slow down,” said Cory Broich.
They don’t want to dwell on the accident because they’re too busy now creating new memories.
The information flow in your Nation’s Capital: We have two stories for you this morning with connections to the DC Fire & EMS Department and how the District of Columbia government communicates with reporters and, in turn, the public. Both cases seem to follow the same pattern: a reporter uncovers something that on the surface doesn’t seem right; the fire chief or his spokesman provides very limited answers, shedding little light on what actually happened; more information is uncovered by reporters; the initial action is reversed; and in the end the department never fully answers what this was all about.
A Steve Skipton photo from a four-alarm fire in Burlington, New Jersey Sunday afternoon that damaged seven homes. Click the image for more pictures and details from PhillyFireNews.com.
In one of these cases, the aborted donation of a fire truck and ambulance to a resort town in the Dominican Republic, it took ten months before reports from two DC City Council committees provided some transparency. The council determined policies were ignored, but no laws broken. The DC Fire & EMS Department, which appears to have had a secondary role in all of this, continues to refer all questions to Attorney General Peter Nickles. According to the Washington Examiner, Nickles believes the investigation was a “waste of time and a waste of government resources in what became a very political series of actions”. Despite this case now seeming to be closed, Chief Dennis Rubin still faces a little scrutiny by at least two reporters who have compared emails released in the reports with his sworn testimony at a council hearing last April. Click here for that story.
Then there is the story of the Sarasota County, Florida fire chief who remained an employee of the DC Fire & EMS Department while in his new job. In this one, there is no council investigation shedding light on the issue and there is still no indication anyone in the DC government is willing to explain why this arrangement was made, other than to allow Kenneth Ellerbe to be eligible to take home a more favorable retirement package. Through sources, we learned that Ellerbe, who was a deputy chief, resigned from his DC position on January 15. A department spokesman then confirmed that information on Friday. Click here for the latest.
No delay on information here - a battalion chief & two captains are among those fired in Georgia: Pretty quick action in DeKalb County. A report issued in a botched response to what ultimately became a fatal fire and four firefighters were let go. All of this happened within about five days of the fire. Click here for the latest.
Chaplain who is friends with fired top PGFD official quits: Alvin Graham didn’t like some of the policy issues he was dealing with involving the chaplain corps even before Lt. Col. Victor Stagnaro received his walking papers a week ago. But it is clear Stagnaro’s firing was involved in Graham’s decision making process. It was Stagnaro who recruited Graham for the volunteer post nine-years-ago and the men are close friends. On Friday, Chaplain Graham turned in his car and other Prince George’s County property. Here are the details.
Firefighter detained in Haiti: Drew Culberth is a Topeka firefighter who went to Haiti on a different kind of rescue mission. Culberth and nine members of his church are now being held over issues surrounding the group’s efforts to bring 33 children back to the United States. Here’s the story.
Fireground audio from mayday at deadly Brooklyn fire: Five residents died at a fire early Saturday in Bensonhurst. Thirteen firefighters were hurt, including one who became entangled in a collapsing stairwell. Click here for our coverage.
Tulsa firefighters vote to stop job layoffs: Concessions that include a more than five-percent pay cut and furlough days were agreed to by Tulsa firefighters in an effort to prevent 147 from losing their jobs. Here’s the latest.
Racist graffiti, threats, profanity and a noose hanging in a locker; claims of harassment and a culture of accepted sexism, evidenced in part by a topless female firefighter posing in panties on a widely distributed calendar.
It seems the firefighter protest in Belgium was a bit kinder and gentler than the one in Spain. I guess it is hard to get angry in the middle of a foam fight. Photo from the Daily Mail.
Cop mixes up pepper spray and fire extinguisher containers - plus much more from Firegeezer: Bill takes a look at the awful story from Portland, Oregon as a police officer tries to snuff out the flames of a man who set himself on fire. Click here. (I saw this story and was certain I used it in Quick Takes on Thursday or Friday, but I can’t find it. Now which one’s the geezer?)
Fire truck hit by flying object, Part 1: In this case it was a bullet as a St. Louis crew returned from the repair shop. Here’s the story.
Fire truck hit by flying object, Part 2: In this case it was shrapnel from dozens of exploding acetylene and propane tanks at a Flint, Michigan auto salvage business. We have video, pictures and details. Click here.
And more explosions from another Michigan auto salvage firm: The Flint fire was on Saturday. In Detroit, 24-hours earlier, there was a similar fire at an auto salvage and parts business. It went to three-alarms. Click here for fireground audio, video and pictures.
Lots of fire and lots of video: A Sunday afternoon fire that burned well into Sunday evening in Jonesville, Michigan. The fire spread from a restaurant to a furniture store. Click here for much more video.
James R. Beavers of Elgin, Illinois after his run-in with firefighters and the man who took this picture, Bill O'Neill at Elginet.com. Truly a story you don't want to miss.
Must see video of accused arsonist fighting with firefighters who just saved his child: Firefighters in Elgin, Illinois rescued a toddler who was in a high chair inside a burning home. The child’s dad, James Beavers, is seen on the video giving grief to firefighters as and after the kid was brought out of the home. Firefighters appeared quite restrained as Beavers started doing a little pushing and shoving. Police arrested Beavers and then charged him with arson. Click here for our coverage.
More must see video – Workers caught in explosion at Utah refinery: The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has shut down the Silver Eagle plant. They released multiple videos of the blast. Click here to watch the clips.
Three-year-old boy pulled his burned sister from a fire: Pretty unbelievable story. The mother of the children died in the same blaze in Arizona. Click here to read the story.
Pharaoh curses firefighters: At least it probably seemed that way to a group of Australian firefighters and their families. They were part of an annual event at Melbourne’s Luna Park when they became trapped upside down on the ride Pharaohs Curse. The firefighter’s on-duty colleagues were called, but the ride eventually decided to cooperate and brought them down after about six-minutes. Read the story.
Have you seen me? This Dalamation has been missing from Sacramento Fire Station 2 for three days. It isn't possible the pooch left on its own. Click the image to read more about the missing dog at SacramentoPress.com
I wonder if he fights with himself at the scene about whether to clear the roadway?: The new fire chief for South Carolina’s Clearwater Fire Department is Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt. Read more.
Definition of firefighter came into play as killer gets life sentence: In case you missed it on Friday, a judge has found Joseph Taye guilty of first degree murder. Taye, a paraplegic, ran down Firefighter Michelle Smith at the scene of an accident in Delaware last year and left the scene. Because the judge ruled that Smith was a firefighter at the time, even though she was handling EMS duties, it is a mandatory life sentence for Mr. Taye. Read the latest.
Video from DC second-alarm: Chris Oliphant sent us video from Saturday’s house fire on 47th Street, NW. Click here.
Philly fire injures 14: Five-alarms needed for the large apartment buildingfire Sunday morning in Lawncrest. Check it out.
Just aim for the lights: Firegeezer has the story of a suspected drunken driver hitting an ambulance head-on. No one was hurt in the Knoxville, Tennessee collision.
Boardwalk blaze: Click here for video and pictures of a three-alarm fire on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City. (But it took the better eyesight of Firegeezer Bill Schumm to notice the business next to the one with all of the red stuff coming out of it had a sign saying Hot Spot.)