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Lakeland Fire Department News


Keeping you informed of what's new with the LFD.

The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) is excited to announce that the department’s annual holiday toy drive kicks off today, November 30, 2015 and runs through Wednesday, December 16, 2015.
Community members are welcome to drop off a new, unwrapped toy at any of LFD's 7 fire stations. The toy drive will benefit the Children's Home Society of Greater Lakeland ( and the Dream Center of Lakeland (, who will distribute the collected gifts to Lakeland's children in need.  

This is the third year in a row that the Lakeland Fire Department sponsors a toy drive and the event has been very successful in years past thanks to the donations of the community and firefighters that generously provide toys. In 2014, over $8,000 in toys were donated to children in Lakeland! 

“Out of the many events our department sponsors and participates, this is one we all look forward to every year” says Fire Chief Gary Ballard. “The holidays are a time to reflect on our blessings and to give back to those in need. This annual toy drive helps hundreds of children in Lakeland by allowing them to enjoy the holidays by knowing that they are cared for by their community.”

Station locations were toys can be dropped can be found here.

Firefighters from the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) and members of the American Red Cross will be hitting the streets and visiting local residents door to door at the Citrus Center Colony on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 to perform free smoke alarm inspections and install smoke alarms as needed from 9:00 AM to Noon.  

Citrus Center Colony, a mobile home community for residents 55 years of age and older, is located at 1111 W Beacon Rd. The community was recently in the news after a tragic fire fatality that occurred at the community on November 11, 2015. In light of the recent events, the Lakeland Fire Department and the American Red Cross want to perform this smoke alarm campaign while the issue of fire safety is fresh on residents’ minds. Event organizers want to raise awareness among residence on the fact that mobile homes are more susceptible to severe damage from home fires, elderly adults are more likely to die in a fire, and that working smoke alarms are proven to save lives. 

This effort is a result of a partnership between LFD and the American Red Cross who kicked off a national campaign in early 2015 to reduce deaths and injuries through the use of smoke alarms in neighborhoods. This will be the second time LFD and the American Red Cross partner to install smoke alarms. The first event took place in February 2015 and was a success.

During the smoke alarm installation program, firefighters and community volunteers will fan out to the approximately 200 homes inside the Citrus Center Colony mobile home community.  

Installing smoke alarms in the homes of Lakeland residents who don’t have them will increase their odds of surviving a home fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), working smoke alarms are the key to saving lives from fire. “Smoke alarms are the most effective early warning device there is,” says Public Education Officer, Janel Vasallo. “Just having a smoke alarm in your home cuts the chance of dying in a fire in half.” 

“Our goal is to make sure residents have the protection of a smoke alarm,” says Rusty Brown of the American Red Cross, who helped coordinate the effort “because smoke alarms alone won’t prevent every fire death, our project includes educating residents to have a home fire escape plan so they know what to do if the smoke alarm sounds.” 

The event will kick off at Fire Station 2 located at 2104 S. Florida Ave. at 9:00 AM. 

Lakeland Receives New Fire Protection Rating; the Highest Achievable Level

Lakeland, FL - The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) is proud to announce that its Insurance Service Office (ISO) Public Protection Classification (PPC) score has improved by an entire rating level from its previous score of a 2, awarded in January 2014, to the highest possible score of a 1. This increased score to the highest possible rating available may have an influence in reducing insurance rates for Lakeland residents and businesses. The score plays a role in how insurance companies - including the largest in the nation - figure rates and decision making in regards to who they underwrite for insurance. It also impacts economic development.

The score, based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 representing the highest level of fire suppression standards and 10 indicating no recognized fire protection, is produced by ISO through an extensive evaluation process. The department’s services, response times, equipment, personnel, training efforts, community risk reduction, and more were evaluated to develop a final score. That score in turn provides both insurers and the fire department a comprehensive measure to rate the quality of the fire protection they provide. In Lakeland’s case, it’s new PPC score of a 1 indicates that the Lakeland Fire Department provides the highest level of service.

The improvements in the score were determined in a reevaluation audit that took place earlier in the year. Evaluators took into account LFD’s addition of an Engine Company, Truck Company, and additional personnel added with the opening of Fire Station 7 in January 2015. The new station which was opened to better serve the southwest neighborhoods of Lakeland in turn helped benefit the entire City of Lakeland through the improved ISO PPC score. Additionally, gains that led to a PPC score of 1 were made in the evaluated categories of emergency communications and community outreach.

“The men and women of the Lakeland Fire Department worked very hard to achieve this accomplishment even in times of fiscal limitations where the department has been asked to do more with less. This is the first time in the history of the department, in the ISO era, that we have accomplished to reach the highest level of public protection classification. This translates to very real and positive outcomes for the citizens of Lakeland.” said Training Chief John Almskog, who was instrumental in coordinating the review along with Assistant Chief of Operations Doug Riley and Battalion Chief Mike Williams.

ISO auditors visited in October 2015, during which Lakeland’s Fire Department, Water Department, and Emergency Communications Center were evaluated to come up with the final determination.  The official announcement of the new rating was made Monday, November 16, 2015 and the new score will be effective February 1, 2016.

Of the 614 ISO rated communities in Florida, only 19 have a level 1 classification placing Lakeland in the top 3rd percentile in regards to quality and fire protection of fire departments in the state. Nationwide, there are only 132 of 48,754 rated communities which have a score of 1, which the Lakeland Fire Department now has.



Now Hiring: The Lakeland Fire Department is Looking for the Best

The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) is excited to announce that it will be accepting applications to fill vacant firefighter positions starting November 15, 2015 through November 30, 2015. The firefighters to be hired will fill positions left by recent retirements. At minimum, six firefighters will be hired.

The Lakeland Fire Department offers competitive pay and benefits, extensive professional development, and is an established public safety leader in the region. As a result it is a highly desirable fire department to work for, often receiving hundreds of applications in a short window of time when vacancies are opened. More information about necessary qualifications, how to apply, and pay and benefits is available at An employment brochure and a 25 minute video production “Fully Involved: What it means to be a Lakeland Firefighter” is also available at the Lakeland Fire Department website to provide prospective applicants more information about why they should apply.

Qualified applicants are encouraged to apply at .

Applications are only accepted online.  Diverse applicants representative of Lakeland’s community that meet the firefighter employment requirements are strongly encouraged to apply. 

LFD utilizes the National Testing Network (NTN) and requires a Candidate Physical Abilities Test (CPAT) of all applicants. The City of Lakeland is a drug-free work place and an equal opportunity employer.

More about the Lakeland Fire Department: 

Established in 1916, the Lakeland Fire Department has a rich history and will celebrate its centennial with 100 years of service as a career fire department in August 2016. The department has seven stations serving approximately 100,000 people in the City of Lakeland. The department has 170 employees, of which 150 are emergency response personnel. In 2015, the department responded to over 22,000 service calls in its 84 square-mile response area, which includes the city limits as well as portions of unincorporated Lakeland.

The department offers a wide range of services which includes heavy rescue, technical rescue, fire prevention, fire code enforcement, fire investigation, aircraft rescue and firefighting, and in-house fleet maintenance; all in addition to a high level of fire suppression and emergency medical response that the department is known for. The Lakeland Fire Department is also passionate about being an active participant in its community and consistently giving back through philanthropic efforts and through non-emergency services such as community outreach and preventative public education. 

The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) marked an important moment in the career of 13 of its newer members in ceremonies held November 2-4, 2015 for firefighters hired in November 2014. The ceremonies marked a successful first year with the department and their transition from “Rookie” Firefighters to “Regular” Firefighters.

These 6 firefighters successfully made it through LFD's rigorous hiring process, new hire orientation, and a yearlong probation period that includes multiple skills, physical abilities, and knowledge assessments. 

Firefighters Slappey, Stafford, Burger, Friedman, Lutz, McCutcheon, Geiger, Novogrodsky, Allison, Scripter, Sutherland, Rivera, and McLendon celebrated their transition from probationary to regular firefighters in the company of family, friends, and colleagues. 

The ceremony marks the completion of the Personal Qualification Standards that the department uses to vet only the finest candidates. This probationary period is designed to ensure that new additions live up to the department's standards and are cut out for a difficult line of work in the fire service

LFD is experiencing rejuvenation in its workforce with these 13 young firefighters coming on board last year. The new hires fill vacancies left by retirements and meet staffing needs from recent expansion with new Station 7.

Congratulations to all of the young Firefighters!  Photos from all three ceremonies, held on each shift respectively, can be viewed here. 

Lakeland Fire Department representatives are currently in Appleton, Wisconsin for the inspection of two new engines heading to Lakeland very soon to replace the current Engines 11 and 41, respectively.

The receipt of new engines entails a highly detailed and thorough inspection of each and every component on the apparatus (pictured). Members on an internal committee, made up of LFD personnel, help design and see its assembly through. Members visit the Pierce Mfg facility in Wisconsin to undertake the inspection process before accepting delivery. Once it is ready the Engines are driven down from Wisconsin to the department’s Maintenance Facility at Station 4 where they will each individually be outfitted with all of the specialty tools and equipment firefighters need to protect Lakeland. Once in service in approximately a month, a follow up story and photos will be posted.

The replacement process is efficient because the older engines that the new engines are replacing are kept as reserve engines in LFD’s fleet. When other engines in the fleet are down and out of service for repair and maintenance, the reserve engine can be put into service so that there aren’t any interruptions to LFD’s response to Lakeland’s calls for service. The average engine at the department has an approximately 17 year life cycle, where they are then sold off at auction to recuperate expenses. Additionally, through an amortization program in place at LFD, the new engines do not create any new expenses to the annual budget that haven’t already been accounted for. This allows for the City of Lakeland, FL (Government) community to have the equipment it deserves when it needs it most with minimal financial impact.

See the entire photo album with lots more photos of Engine 11 and 41 here.

Lakeland Firefighters Will Remind Motorist School is Back in Session

Lakeland --- Summer fun is done and school is back in session for most Polk County students starting Monday, August 24, 2015. The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) will be promoting safety in school zones as part of its Back to School Safety Campaign, for the sixth year in a row.

On Monday, August 24th, Tuesday, August 25th, and Wednesday, August 26th, 2015, Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) personnel will be in school zones holding signs urging drivers to:


LFD will have a fire engine and/or rescue truck and its crew posted at high visibility roadways and intersections near thirteen Lakeland elementary schools in the department’s service area.  

Children will be crowding sidewalks and crossing many streets on their commute to and from school. Often in their excitement, children neglect to follow basic safety rules so it is up to motorist to be extra vigilant and to drive safely.

The Lakeland Fire Department’s goal is to ensure that no child is injured this school year by a negligent driver. Since the beginning of this safety campaign in 2009, incidents involving motorist striking school bound pedestrians have steadily declined in Lakeland.

All emergency response units will remain in service while participating in the campaign and will continue to respond to emergencies with no interruptions in service. 

The attached table details where and when LFD personnel will be located:

Lakeland Area Elementary School

Targeted Roadway / Intersection

Campaign Hours During Student Drop Off

Campaign Hours During Student Pick Up

Blake Academy

Hartsell Ave. / Sikes Blvd.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:15 - 3:15 PM

Carlton Palmore Elementary

Cleveland Heights Blvd. / Westover St.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:30 - 3:25 PM

Cleveland Court Elementary

Edgewood Dr. /Carolina Ave.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:30 - 3:30 PM

Dixieland Elementary

Ariana Rd. in front of school

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:30 - 3:30 PM

Jesse Keen Elementary

Wabash Ave. in front of school

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:15 - 3:15 PM

Lincoln Avenue Academy

Lincoln Ave. / 10th St.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:30 - 3:30 PM

North Lakeland Elementary

Robson St. / Baird Ave.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:15- 3:15 PM

Philip O'Brien Elementary

Lime St. / Lake Parker Ave.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:15 - 3:15 PM

Rochelle School of the Arts

MLK Jr. Ave. / 10th St.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:30- 3:30 PM

Sleepy Hill Elementary

Griffin Rd. / Kathleen Rd.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:15 - 3:15 PM

Southwest Elementary

South Florida Ave. / Oak St.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:30- 3:30 PM

McKeel Academy Central *

North Florida Ave. / Oak St.

8:00 – 8:45 AM

2:30 – 3:30PM

South McKeel Elementary Academy *

South Edgewood Dr. in front of school

8:00 – 8:45 AM

2:45 – 3:45 PM

* McKeel Academy Central and South McKeel Academy begin school on Thursday, August 20 and Friday, August 21 and will be visited then.


All emergency response units will remain in service while participating in the safety campaign and will continue to respond to emergencies with no interruptions in service.


The Lakeland Fire Department would like to recognize Assistant Chief of Operation, Doug Riley, as the department's second graduate (of the Florida Fire Chief’s Association (FFCA) Emergency Services Leadership Institute! Great Job!

The intensive program consist of six 2 -3 day leadership courses delivered by some of the most influential leaders in the Florida Fire Service. Chief Riley completed his last class and graduated on July 20, 2015 in Naples, Florida.

The Emergency Services Leadership Institute (ESLI) program is sponsored and hosted by the Florida Fire and Emergency Services Foundation (FFESF) in the interest of addressing contemporary leadership issues that affect Mid-Level and Chief Fire Officers. The focus and content of the six-course Institute is consistent with upper level academic achievement and addresses issues that are either not prominent in other curricula or not structured in a manner that allows for an integrated learning experience over a two to three day period per course. While the institute is comprised of six courses, each individual course is designed to stand alone as a specific educational experience. The six courses will be offered on a two-year revolving basis. The Institute is designed to allow a participant to start and finish with any course and can be taken in any sequence. The 6 courses are Human Resources and Labor Relations; Personal Qualities, Leadership, and the Organization; Government Relations and Public Policy; Marketing Fire and Emergency Services; Finance and Budgeting and Emergency Management.

Congratulations to Chief Riley on a job well done and thanks for blazing the trail as both a learner and leader for other LFD Chief Officers.

Lakeland Fire Department and SPCA Florida Launch Partnership - Wellness Wagon Stop Scheduled for Saturday, August 8 at St. 1 

Lakeland, FL— Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) and SPCA Florida—organizations that value the role pets play in healthy lives—are partnering together to further each organization’s mission of serving the community’s two and four-legged residents. On Saturday, August 8, SPCA Florida’s mobile pet vaccination unit, the Wellness Wagon, will visit LFD Station 1, 701 E Main St, Lakeland, 33801 from 3-5 p.m. The Wagon is open to public animals in need of affordable vaccines, microchips, and preventative products such as flea, tick and heartworm control. The location is ideal as it is centrally located, easily accessible and pet-friendly with shade.

“We are excited to partner with Lakeland Fire Department on this new Wellness Wagon stop, and to offer our full-service medical center as needed for injured or distressed pets they encounter during emergencies,” said SPCA Florida Executive Director Adam Stanfield. LFD has equipment on its apparatus, including animal specific oxygen masks and medical rescue kits, to help pets in medical need that may be encountered in fire calls or medical responses for human patients. Stanfield said the medical center’s hyperbaric oxygen therapy unit has previously proven effective in expediting healing in feline and canine smoke inhalation victims. “While we always hope those unfortunate circumstances do not arise, we hope to save more lives by providing that healing technology to the four-legged residents LFD serves.”

Beyond its rescue efforts, LFD currently provides pet fire safety education, and has participated in SPCA Florida’s Walk for Animals at Lake Mirror. The partnership will also help support pet rescue training for LFD’s specialty teams including SWAT Medics and Urban Search and Rescue team members with SPCA Florida providing medical facility access.

For more information on the LFD and SPCA Florida’s first partnership initiative, the Wellness Wagon stop on Saturday, August 8, please visit 

About Lakeland Fire Department:

Established in 1916, the Lakeland Fire Department has a rich history, approaching nearly 100 years of service as a career fire department. The department has seven stations serving approximately 100,000 people in the City of Lakeland. The department has 170 employees of which 150 are emergency response personnel. In 2014, the department responded to over 21,000 service calls in its 84 square-mile response area, which includes the city limits as well as portions of unincorporated Lakeland. The department offers a wide range of services to include heavy rescue, technical rescue, fire prevention, fire code enforcement, fire investigation, aircraft rescue and firefighting, and in-house fleet maintenance; all in addition to fire suppression and emergency medical response.

About SPCA Florida:

Founded in 1979, SPCA Florida exists to eliminate animal suffering and engage the entire community in the welfare and well-being of animals. SPCA Florida will help and heal 70,000 dogs and cats through its McClurg Animal Medical Center and provide direct care for 6,500 animals through its Adoption Center this year. Ani-Meals, which provides food and medical care for animals of homebound families, helps thousands more dogs and cats each year.

For photos highlighting the partnership launch click here

Fire Chief Gary Ballard is President of the Florida Fire Chiefs Association

The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) is proud to announce that its Fire Chief, Gary Ballard, is the new President of the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association (FFCA). The FFCA is the largest and leading advocacy and professional education organization for fire & emergency services professionals in the state of Florida.  Fire Chief Ballard was officially inducted as president on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at a ceremony held in Naples, FL.

Fire Chief Ballard has a total of 40 years of experience in the fire service, 38 of which are with LFD. He started in 1977 as a Firefighter and rose through the ranks to become Fire Chief at the department in 2010. Along the way he has amassed a tremendous amount of experience and leadership skills that will allow him to excel in this new role as president and continue to advocate on behalf of fire professionals throughout the state while proudly representing the City of Lakeland.

It is important to note that the FFCA was founded by Lakeland’s longest serving Fire Chief, Charlie Deal, in 1958. Fire Chief Deal served as the FFCA’s very first President and now that legacy has come full circle with Fire Chief Ballard at the helm of the organization. “Chief Deal was instrumental to my professional development and encouraged me to become more involved with the Fire Chiefs Association. Since joining, I have served as a regional coordinator for the FFCA’s State Emergency Response Plan for ten out of my fifteen years with this organization. I’ve also served on the Board of Directors for the past five years. His [Deal] incredible vision and value for professional development is what has allowed both the FFCA and the Lakeland Fire Department to become the leaders, respectively, that they both are today within the fire service.” explains Fire Chief Ballard.  

With Chief Ballard in this new leadership position, he will undoubtedly continue to expand those efforts and improve the quality of the state’s fire service. The term as president is for one year.

More about FFCA: Since 1958, FFCA has served career, combination, and volunteer fire departments.  FFCA is Florida's leading advocacy and professional education organization for fire & emergency services professionals. It specializes in promoting and supporting excellence in fire & emergency services management. FFCA programs help members maintain and develop their management and leadership skills. Additionally, the FFCA advocates on behalf of the fire service in regards to state and national policymaking. The organization is headquartered in Ormond Beach with a satellite office in Tallahassee. FFCA represents approximately 1,800 members throughout the state. For more information please visit .

See more photos here