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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. 

 


 

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.