For over three years, the firefighters of the Lakeland Fire Department have been gathering funds to make the idea of a commemorative sculpture for firefighters a reality in Lakeland.
Statues to honor and memorialize brave community heroes are common throughout the United States and through a grassroots effort, firefighters at LFD wanted to have one created to do the same for the firefighters of Lakeland. LFD has been fortunate in that it has not suffered any active, line of duty deaths of firefighters. However it was felt that the sacrifices and service firefighters at LFD have and continue to provide is something that should be honored and appreciated. A committee of firefighters was created and through their efforts the project was set to develop a sculpture to pay homage to the profession, with an adjacent reflection area.
Funding so far for the project has been entirely from firefighters themselves who have made special payroll deductions and personal donations to amass the several thousand of dollars necessary to make this project a reality. As the project has progressed the funds to commission the statue are nearly completely available. In the final stretch of the this project's fundraising campaign, donations will soon be solicited by the firefighters from community organizations for the addition of a reflection area to hold the statue itself. An annual fundraiser has also been held at Lakeland's Il Forno Italian Restaurant, which has generously donated the use of its restaurant and food, to assist in the efforts. This has been a completely homegrown firefighter-driven effort and absolutely no public dollars have been used towards the project.
The statue is planned for installation in front of LFD's Station 1 located off of the Lake Mirror Promenade on 701 E. Main St. Lakeland, FL. The area, a favorite with locals for its inviting and pedestrian friendly design, is ideal for the public to visit while taking in other views of the department's largest fire station.
The statue is anticipated to be created by leading public safety sculpture studio, Brodin Studios. It will be designed to reflect the look found in an image of Driver Engineer Duke Driskell (pictured right). The image was taken during a photo shoot for the department in 2009. The sculpture will be an artistic interpenetration of the pictured firefighter's "look", with the exception of his facial features.