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The latest happenings in your city government.


 

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.

 



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.


FIREFIGHTER TAYLOR RILEY RECEIVES NATIONAL AWARD FROM FIREHOUSE MAGAZINE FOR HEROISM & COMMUNITY SERVICE! 


 

One of Lakeland’s finest, Firefighter Taylor Riley of Station 1 was recognized by Firehouse Magazine, by being selected as an awardee of their annual Heroism and Community Service Award. Taylor was selected as one of fifty firefighters in the nation, and the only winner from Florida, for his incredible act of bravery when he entered a burning building last December to rescue a young boy. The building was 95% engulfed in flames when he entered. 


Taylor was recommended by his Battalion Chief Michael Williams for the award and was selected by a panel of fire service professionals from across the country.

Congratulations to Taylor Riley and thank you for serving the people of Lakeland so well.

This is a picture of the building when he went in. Not before or after, but during. AMAZING!



 

The bond forged between the men and women in fire service is universal, regardless of when or where they’ve served. Proof of that was on a recent visit made by the Lakeland Fire Department’s Assistant Chief Doug Riley, along with Station # 5 ‘s Lt. Jim Hewitt, Engineer-Driver Steve Herndon, and Firefighter Jason Vickers who visited retired Massachusetts Firefighter George Coughlin at Clairbridge Place in Lakeland on August 6, 2013. They reached out to Mr. Coughlin to welcome him to the community and for the opportunity to bond over tales of service as firefighters.  

 

Mr. Coughlin served as a firefighter for over 25 years and upon retiring in Polk County became very involved with fire service related issues in his community. He led the charge and was instrumental in the building of an additional fire station in nearby Winter Haven, and now as a new resident of Lakeland plans to become equally as involved. Firefighters from Station 5 plan to visit regularly to continue to grow the relationship and learn a lesson or two from a this valuable veteran of fire service.

 

Regardless of disparity in age or location of service, its examples like these that make it clear that firefighting is not a career choice but rather a lifestyle.