Pinellas Park fire official under investigation retires
The Pinellas Park fire lieutenant was accused of climbing on a fire station's roof to watch a concert.
By ANNE LINDBERG
Published October 16, 2005
PINELLAS PARK - A fire lieutenant who was suspended last year because of allegations that he drove while drunk and was once again under investigation abruptly retired Friday.
Frederick Rankin Ferguson retired before completion of an investigation into accusations he climbed to the roof of Fire Station 33 to watch the Oct. 1 heavy metal concert at the England Brothers Bandshell. Station 33 is on the north side of the bandshell and park.
Ferguson's retirement effectively ends the investigation, Pinellas Park fire Chief Doug Lewis said Friday. His resignation will be effective Wednesday.
Ferguson was the longest tenured member of the department and will be missed, Lewis said.
"Rick is a true asset," Lewis said. "He's very good with our young firefighters."
Ferguson, 53, had worked for the Pinellas Park Fire Department since July 1973. He earned $60,957 a year as a fire lieutenant and emergency medical technician.
Ferguson could not be reached for comment.
Ferguson had been in trouble before.
In August 2004, a Kenneth City police officer stopped him about 1:10 a.m. because the taillight on Ferguson's motorcycle was out. When Ferguson got off his bike, the officer said, he was unsteady on his feet, his eyes were bloodshot and watery, and his breath smelled of alcohol.
Kenneth City police Chief Jim Ernst said at the time that Ferguson refused to perform field sobriety tests.
Records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement show that the charge was dismissed.
But Lewis said that Ferguson had been suspended for 30 days without pay. It was that past infraction, Lewis said, that made the possibility of a second so grave. Ferguson was facing the possibility of losing his job.
The latest allegation, Lewis said, was that Ferguson was "on the roof of the building with civilians during the concert, off duty (and with) no permission."
Lewis said there was the "potential" that alcohol had been involved "either prior to or at the event."
[Last modified October 16, 2005, 01:32:18]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]