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The latest happenings in your city government.


Lakeland Firefighters Respond to Home Fire near Handley Park in Lakeland

Lakeland --- At approximately 8:15 PM, the Lakeland Fire Department responded to a home fire at 1408 Phyllis Street, Lakeland, FL.  Fire crews breached the front door to find heavy smoke conditions and a bedroom on the east side of the home consumed in flames. Crews extinguished the fire without incident but upon searching the structure for occupants discovered 3 pets; a large dog and two cats.

The home was occupied by siblings Thomas Watkins and Pamela Burton, neither of which were home when the fire began. The fire is believed to have begun after Watkins briefly left the home for a walk. Upon returning Watkins discovered the fire and entered to rescue the aforementioned pets. Mr. Watkins was assessed and air lifted from the scene to Tampa General Hospital for treatment.

Extensive resuscitation attempts were made on all three of the pets by LFD firefighters. One cat was revived after being administered oxygen, however the second cat and the dog perished from their injuries, even after resuscitation attempts by crews which included full intubation and Advanced Life Support treatment. The LFD crews are trained and all of the department’s rescue apparatuses are equipped with specialized equipment designed for pet rescue and resuscitation.

It is important to remind pet owners that however difficult it may be to do, please do not enter a burning structure to save a pet. If a building is on fire or shows signs of fire, like smoke, stay out! Pets are very much loved and seen as members of the family but people should not jeopardize their safety in the event of a fire or other emergency. Responders are specially trained to rescue everyone, including pets. 

 

LFD’s fire investigator determined that that the fire was started by smoking materials in the affected bedroom and was accidental. The fire caused $25,000 in damage to the home.

 

8 apparatuses and 24 firefighters responded to the incident.

If any further information is needed contact Janel Vasallo.

 


Bells Will Ring in Lakeland for 3rd Annual Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters

Lakeland – For the third year, the entire country is invited to come together as one community to honor the memory of those firefighters who died in the line of duty and reassure their loved ones that their firefighter will not be forgotten by participating in the Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters remembrance. 

The Lakeland Fire Department will join the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), other fire departments, and community groups from coast to coast in this poignant tribute as part of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Weekend. The moment of remembrance will occur on Sunday, October 6, 2013 at 10:00 AM at all Lakeland fire stations and at participating locations throughout the Lakeland area. This day also marks the beginning of Fire Prevention Week. 

“It is with great sadness that we ring these bells for fellow firefighters who have fallen in the line of duty. It allows us to reflect on the ultimate sacrifice they have made for their communities. It is my hope and desire to never have to ring a bell again because of a firefighter perishing while serving.” said Lakeland Fire Chief Gary Ballard. 

“The ringing of bells has a powerful meaning to firefighters. Not only do bells signal the beginning or end of a call, they also were used to notify department members that one of their own had died while serving the community.” explained Chief Ronald Siarnicki, executive director of the NFFF. 

Hundreds of fire departments, places of worship and other groups participated in Bells Across America for Fallen Firefighters over the past two years. 

 


Congrats to Wayne Epperson on his promotion to Battalion Chief for the Lakeland Fire Department

 

On Wednesday, September 4, 2013 long time veteran of the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD), Wayne Epperson, was promoted to the officer position of Battalion Chief.   

Bat. Chief Epperson was joined by family, friends, colleagues, and an extended network of City of Lakeland representatives, including Mayor Gow Fields, to celebrate his professional advancement.

Wayne began his career with the LFD in 1985 and served as a firefighter, fire instructor, driver-engineer, and lieutenant, having held the latter position for 17 years. Speakers at the ceremony including Fire Chief Gary Ballard, Assistant Chief Rick Hartzog, Bat. Chief Mike Williams, and Bat. Chief Jeff Wharton all concurred that Bat. Chief Epperson is one of the most honest, dedicated, and deserving individuals they know within the organization. Wayne has been heavily involved with training efforts throughout his career and through his many years of experience and leadership will undoubtedly further elevate the position.

 

A big congratulations to Wayne Epperson and sincere thanks to him for the many years of dedicated service he has provided the people of Lakeland.

 


Fire Chief Gary Ballard selected as the Second Vice President for the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association (FFCA)


Lakeland Fire Chief Gary Ballard has given the City of Lakeland one more reason to be proud. On July 24 Chief Ballard was selected as the Second Vice President for the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association (FFCA). Having served as the West Central Regional Director for the FFCA in years past, Chief Ballard will now be able to share his 36+ years of experience in an expanded capacity with fire service leaders from all over Florida as Vice President.

This professional platform will allow Chief Ballard to showcase the excellent emergency services that the Lakeland Fire Department offers the people of Lakeland, as well as create additional networking opportunities that will add to the quality of the fire department’s services. 

The FFCA is made up of fire and emergency professionals from all ranks representing all regions of Florida. The association’s mission is to promote and support excellence in fire & emergency services. The association does so by recognizing the fields best and brightest, offering scholarships, fundraising for charity, and providing professional development. With Chief Ballard in this new leadership position, he will undoubtedly continue to expand those efforts.

Congratulations to Chief Ballard and sincere thanks for increasing the City of Lakeland’s presence throughout the state.