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Lakeland Fire Department Celebrates its 2013 Firefighter of the Year Winners

Several Firefighter of the Year awards are given annually to firefighters who demonstrate an outstanding act of heroism or service to their communities.  The awards are the Knights of Columbus Firefighter of the Year Award, the Sons of the American Revolution Heroism Award, and the Presidents Round Table Awards for Public Safety.

Winners for 2013 from the Lakeland Fire Department, which are nominated and awarded in 2014, are Firefighter/Paramedic Luis Hernandez and Driver-Engineer/Paramedic Mike Smith. These two firefighters were manning Engine 31 one fateful August evening when they were called to a general fire alarm call on the 800 block of Bella Vista Street. Upon arriving firefighters noticed signs of active smoke coming from a second story apartment. The door was locked with a dead bolt lock and although they called for forcible entry tools time was of the essence. To avoid any delay, FF Hernandez kicked down the door and both he and D/E Smith, who was serving as step-up Lieutenant that day, quickly entered the apartment to find an unconscious woman, with signs of burns and smoke inhalation. They quickly removed the woman and their quick thinking, action, and bravery is credited with having saved her life.

Firefighter/Paramedic Margaret Orozco is being recognized separately for her steady and significant work with both the state and national level Children’s Burn Foundation Camps.

These three amazing members of the LFD team were nominated by their superior officers. They will be honored for their heroism by the Sons of the American Revolution at a ceremony Saturday, April 19, 2014 at the Cleveland Heights Golf Club at 11:30 AM.

They will also be honored at the Presidents’ Roundtable Safety Officer Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 11:30 AM at the First United Methodist Church.

These firefighters embody and live the department creed of Duty, Honor, Integrity, and Trust. Their self-less service is invaluable and greatly appreciated by the en
tire department.

Thank you to these firefighter and congratulations! 




The Lakeland Fire Department is fortunate to have some of the finest firefighters in the field today. Although all are great at what they do, some stand out as exceptional due to their work in the community and their abilities as trained professionals.

Every year, spanning from January to April, four separate organizations in Lakeland recognize an outstanding member of the fire department as Firefighter of the Year. The first of these recognitions for “Firefighter of the Year” is given by the Knights of Columbus of Lakeland. 

Several nominations were submitted by LFD firefighters for their peers and this year’s winner for the Knight of Columbus award is Firefighter and Paramedic Margaret Orozco.

Margaret is being recognized not only for being very good at what she does but also for her in depth volunteer work with burn camps benefiting young victims of fires, on both a state and national level.

Earlier in 2013 Margaret was recognized for her work in both the city of Lakeland’s Access newsletter and by Lakeland’s The Ledger which featured her in their Monday Morning profile series.

Congratulations to FF Orozco! The award ceremony will be held at Resurrection Catholic Church on Saturday, January 25, 2013 from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

Firefighter and Paramedic Margaret Orozco. Photo courtesy of The Ledger.

Update: Photos from the ceremony held on Saturday, January 25, 2013

Update: March 01, 2014

The Knights of Columbus who awarded Firefighter Orozco with the Firefighter of the Year award have made a generous donation of $250.00 to the Children's Burn Camp in her name. This is in honor of Margaret's work with the group and service to her community. A big thanks goes to the Knights of Columbus for the generous donation to a worthy cause.