Gary W. Ballard was appointed Fire Chief of the Lakeland Fire Department in May of 2010. Chief Ballard oversees the entire department and provides counsel to the city of Lakeland’s leadership team in matters of public safety and fire protection.
Fire Chief Ballard has served the Lakeland Fire Department since 1977, when he began his career as a firefighter. During his nearly 40-year career with the department he has served and led in many capacities. Early in his career Fire Chief Ballard served as Lieutenant and Training Officer before transitioning to upper management where he held the position of Assistant Chief of Operations and Assistant Chief of Administrative Services prior to being appointed Fire Chief.
In addition to being highly certified in areas of fire science and organizational leadership, Fire Chief Ballard is very involved in the fire service community serving as president of the Polk County Fire Chief’s Association and Past President of the Florida Fire Chiefs' Association, of which he has served in several different leadership capacities including President.
Fire Chief Ballard, a lifelong member of the Lakeland community, graduated from Kathleen High School and earned his associate's degree in Fire Science from Polk State College. He also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from the University of South Florida.