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


Driver Engineer Kelvin Jones retired on February 5, 2016, after 28 years of service to Lakeland. His retirement ceremony was very well attended with many colleagues, family members, and friends in attendance to wish him well on the new chapter of his life. His biography shares:

Kelvin Jones has been a member of the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) since February 2, 1988. He has given 28 years of service to the people of Lakeland as a Firefighter and Paramedic. Kelvin joined the department as a Firefighter and promoted to Driver Engineer on January 4, 1997, which he retires as today.

Kelvin has an impressive background in working to help others in his community. Prior to his work in the fire service, Kelvin served in the United States Air Force (USAF). He served four years of active duty and then went on to pursue work with the Seaboard Coastline Railroad, which brought him to Lakeland. In making that move, Kelvin transitioned into the role of Reservist with the United States Air Force in 1986. Kelvin served as an Air Evacuation Medic while a Reservist and his work in the military would go on to influence his work helping others as an emergency responder.
Kelvin is a decorated military veteran who served in Desert Storm from November 1990 through March 1991. Kelvin would go on to continue work in the military and at LFD for the next two decades. In 2003 Kelvin retired from the Air Force Reserves as a Master Sergeant. 

Equally as impressive as his tenure at the Lakeland Fire Department and in the United States Air Force is Kelvin’s work as a Registered Nurse, which he still actively works as at Heart of Florida Hospital and the Walt Disney World Wellness Center. 

A Florida native, through and through, Kelvin grew up in Tampa, FL and is a graduate of East Bay High School. Kelvin has an Associate’s degree in Nursing from Polk State College and an Associate’s degree from the College of the Air Force. 

Celebrating Kelvin’s retirement along with him today are Kelvin’s supportive and proud parents, Samuel and Nettie Jones. He is also joined by his lovely wife Shirley and several of their children. Kelvin truly appreciates and enjoys the company of his large and growing family of five sons, one daughter, and a combined fifteen grandchildren in his and Shirley’s blended family.

Kelvin also participates in his community and gives back through his work as a member of the Lakeland Masonic Lodge. Upon retirement, Kelvin looks forward to filling his free time by spending time with his family and enjoying his hobbies of fishing, traveling, and camping in style in his RV. He even looks forward to using his time in retirement to pursue a Pilot’s License and a Master’s degree in Nursing so that he can someday serve as a nursing instructor.

Kelvin shares a quote that has deeply impacted him since a 2003 church service in which he heard it, which explains: “There are two types of people; Actors and Reactors. Which one are you?” and challenges others to live their lives with purpose as he feels he has his.

The Lakeland Fire Department celebrates Kelvin’s 28 years of service and profoundly thanks him for his dedication to the people of Lakeland. Kelvin’s many years of selfless service are deeply appreciated.


Firefighter of the Year: Congratulations to Firefighter/Paramedic Cody Ritenour who was selected by the Knights of Columbus to receive their 2015 Firefighter of the Year award.

Firefighter Ritenour is being awarded the honor for his heroic efforts in saving motorists at the scene of a violent car accident while off duty. 

Firefighters inherently have the qualities you would expect in a hero. Helping others is what they do, and a lot of the skills and qualities they use on duty are used off duty as well. Cody was nominated for the City of Lakeland's Heroism Award based on an his actions off duty in helping at the scene of a violent car accident. He will be recognized at the City of Lakeland Commission meeting on April 6, 2015. The account is best summarized by the nomination narrative: 

"On February 15th, 2015 at approximately 9 AM, an unfortunate head-on collision took place in Osceola County on State Road 60. Cody Ritenour, a Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) Firefighter and Paramedic was several vehicles behind the incident when it occurred, while traveling home after completing his shift.

Upon noticing there was commotion up ahead, Cody made his way to the accident scene and found that bystanders had pulled a four year old girl and a six year old boy from one of the involved vehicles; it was quickly filling with smoke from an engine compartment fire. The driver of the vehicle was entrapped and was unresponsive. The fire was spreading quickly and with no way to put it out, Cody decided to instead attempt to get the victim out. He was unable to open the front doors without extrication equipment due to the severity of the crash. He made access into the vehicle through the back seat where he tried to free the entangled victim, yet was unsuccessful. The flames overcame the firewall and entered into the interior of the vehicle where the heat and smoke forced Cody to retreat.

Unable to continue helping the driver, Cody applied his training and experience in the field and turned his attention to the young children involved.  He noticed that the four year old girl was unresponsive but was breathing and had a pulse and that the six year old had suffered serious injuries but was alert. The driver of the other vehicle had minor injuries and was ambulatory. Cody sprang into action by calling 9-1-1, identified himself, and reported there was a vehicle fire and an unresponsive pediatric that will most likely need a helicopter (later, while working with the first arriving officer he confirmed that the helicopter was indeed requested).

Cody continued patient care after hanging up with the emergency operators by accessing the children’s vitals and listening to lung sounds with his personal stethoscope until further support could arrive. Cody directed several bystanders to assist him with the children until fire and EMS crews arrived. Once they arrived, Cody again identified himself and gave them the details of the scene. Cody assisted EMS with patient care and packaging the children for transport. A landing zone was established by crews on scene and two helicopters landed on State Road 60 to fly the children to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children for Trauma Care in Orlando.

We cannot express enough how incredibly proud we are of Firefighter Ritenour. Not only did he risk his own life by attempting to save the driver of the accident from a burning vehicle, but he also put his training to work and took command of the scene. Cody triaged the victims and was able to assemble the necessary resources to give the remaining victims the care they needed and a fighting chance at survival.

Cody is a young man with less than two years of practical fire and medical training however he showed poise and composure beyond his years. At the time this recommendation was written it is unknown what the outcome of the children’s injuries were or what the future holds for them but we are certain that they have a better chance of recovery due to the actions taken by Cody Ritenour on that day.

On behalf of the entire Lakeland Fire Department, we would like to formally recommend Cody Ritenour for his heroism and that he be recognized through the City of Lakeland’s Heroism Award Committee for his actions that day, and for responding beyond his call of duty.

Lieutenant  Joseph Delegge " 

The award ceremony took place at the Resurrection Catholic Church Parish Hall, located at 3720 Old Road 37 in Lakeland on January 30, 2016. 

Congratulations to Cody. His heroic and selfless actions are greatly appreciated by LFD and the entire Lakeland community.


Lakeland Fire Department’s very own fire equipment supervisor Alan Jarvis has been selected as one of the top five Emergency Vehicle Technicians in the nation by Firehouse Magazine! The highly competitive award is given by Firehouse Magazine, a national leader in fire service news and information.

The EVT of the Year Award was created to recognize the dedication and professionalism of men and women committed to the safe operation of emergency apparatus and support of emergency responders and their communities. The work EVT’s do is essential to the smooth operation of a fire department and is crucial in making sure emergency responders can get to those in need.

Alan has been highly valued and appreciated member of the department since 1988. The following nomination narrative outlines his hard work and the merits of his award:

"Alan Jarvis began his career with the Lakeland Fire Department as a Fire Equipment Mechanic on December 5, 1988. He served in that capacity until his promotion to Fire Equipment Supervisor on December 30, 2001. Alan is unique in that he is not only a highly certified mechanic, but also a certified firefighter. He has received many certifications that support the extensive mechanical work he performs and supervises for the department. He is Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified as a medium and heavy truck master technician. Additionally, Alan is a certified automobile master technician and an emergency vehicle master technician.

The Lakeland Fire Department is fortunate to have its own in-house Maintenance Division. Our maintenance personnel are dedicated solely to the maintenance and repair of fire department apparatus and equipment as a separate division from the City of Lakeland’s fleet maintenance.

As the department’s Fire Equipment Supervisor, Alan supervises the department’s two Fire Equipment Mechanics as well as oversees the maintenance and repairs of all of the department’s apparatus (16), staff vehicles (17), hundreds of pieces of firefighting equipment and all of the fire station emergency generators (8). Additionally, Alan and the team he supervises maintain all of the department’s Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) equipment including its two ARFF trucks.

Alan also directly makes our department better and unique by overseeing the annual, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) mandated testing of all of the department’s Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), hoses, pumps, and ladders; done entirely in house by him and his small team which adds incredible value to the department.

In addition to his many responsibilities, Alan serves on multiple technical committees for the city and fire department, including the department’s safety committee, apparatus and equipment purchasing / replacement committees, and any other committee where the department needs his expertise.

Alan is exceptional not only on the job, but in his community. On his few days off, he is very involved with activities that promote our department and builds education and awareness of our citizenry. Most recently, Alan oversaw and restored a local children’s museum exhibit and he and his team are currently working adamantly in their spare time to restore a 1939 Pirsch fire engine. Their efforts will result in preserving a vital piece of the department’s rich history for future generations to enjoy.

Alan and his team also give back to the community by contributing their technical and mechanical skills in assisting with the repair and maintenance of electronic wheel chairs for elderly, handicapped citizens. They do this at no cost to those that they assist, and do so entirely on their personal time as a coordinated effort with VISTE (Volunteers in Service to the Elderly); all to assist the less fortunate who would otherwise not have the financial means to afford this service.

Alan has been an exemplary employee for the City of Lakeland Fire Department for 30 years. He has achieved numerous commendations for his service and high level of productivity. Alan is a positive role model who leads by example by always giving 110% and consistently displays a positive attitude, in the face of every situation. He is knowledgeable, friendly, trustworthy, valued, and admired. He is truly a servant leader that always puts the welfare and best interest of the citizens and the organization above his own.

Subsequently, I am honored to be able to nominate Alan Jarvis for the 2015 Emergency Vehicle Technician of the year award. This summary above doesn’t begin to do him and how incredible he is justice but it provides a glimpse as to why the entire department, myself included, feel that he should be recognized as Firehouse's Emergency Vehicle Technician of the Year."

Congratulations to Big Al, as he is affectionately known at the department, on being recognized nationwide for your wonderful work. Thank you for your committed service to Lakeland and to the Lakeland Fire Department! 

Read more about the award from Firehouse Magazine here.


Fire Safety Warning for Hover Boards
Citing media coverage of several recent fire incidents, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) issued a series of safety tips urging hover board owners to read product guidelines and be aware of potential fire hazards when using these trendy devices.
 
“It seems hover boards are the hottest holiday gifts on the planet this year. But a number of media outlets reported fire incidents are cause for caution to avoid Christmas wishes going up in smoke,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. Part toy, part transportation, the self-balancing scooters based on an idea first seen in the movie Back to the Future, can pose a fire risk. 

“These are fairly new to the mass market and there isn’t a lot we know about them. The best advice we can offer is to read all manufacturers’ guidelines - particularly those that apply to charging hover boards – and to follow some additional fire safety guidelines.”

The Lakeland Fire Department offers the following tips to keep the holidays fire-safe. 

If you purchase a hover board:

· Choose a device with the seal of an independent testing laboratory.
· Read and follow all manufacturer directions.  If you do not understand the directions, ask for help.
· An adult should be responsible for charging the hover board.
· Do not leave a charging hover board unattended.  
· Never leave the hover board plugged in overnight.
· Only use the charging cord that came with the hover board.
· Stop using your hover board if it overheats. 
· Extreme hot or cold temperature can hurt the battery.  
· Be on the lookout for product updates from manufacturers and safety groups.  
· Many airlines have banned hover boards. If you plan to fly with a hover board, be sure to check with your air carrier.
· When riding in a car, keep the hover board where you can see it in case it shows signs of a problem.

Signs of a Problem:

Some hover board fires have involved the Lithium-Ion battery or charger. Signs you may have a problem:

· Leaking fluids
· Excessive heat
· Odor
· Sparking
· Smoke

If you notice any of these signs, stop using the device right away. Call 9-1-1.  If safe to do so, move the hover board outside away from anything that can burn.

If you have had a fire or injury event involving a hover board, contact the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
 
As a safety precaution never store the board or charge them indoors. Keep then in a detached garage or storage area if possible. 

 

Download the Hover Board Safety Tip Sheet here


It’s Going to Be a HOT Holiday: Presenting The Rescued Pets 2016 Calendar

Animal and firefighter lovers everywhere can rejoice this holiday season because SPCA Florida and the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) are presenting the ultimate stocking stuffer – The Rescued Pets 2016 Calendar! 

The calendar features SPCA Florida’s rescued pets and real Lakeland firefighters beautifully photographed and presented each month of the year along with helpful information and safety tips from both organizations.

The high quality calendars are only $10.00 and make the perfect gift for the upcoming holidays. Sales begin today and can be purchased:

Online at www.spcaflorida.org or

In person at

  • SPCA Florida Headquarters at 5850 Brannen Road S. Lakeland, FL 33813
  • Lakeland Fire Department Administration Building at 701 E Main Street Lakeland, FL 33801
  • Wellness Wagon weekly route stops; locations available at http://www.spcaflorida.org/wellness-wagon-1

Cash and checks are accepted at all sites. Credit cards are only accepted online at www.spcaflorida.organd at SPCA Florida’s Medical Center, Adoption Center, and Administration buildings.

The calendar was created as part of SPCA Florida and LFD’s partnership announced earlier in the year (goo.gl/snL1Oy). All proceeds from the calendar will go directly to helping animals rescued by the Lakeland Fire Department that are encountered on human emergency scenes. Thanks to the partnership of the two organizations and donations like yours through the purchase of this calendar, many animals have and will continue to be treated at SPCA Florida’s Reva McClurg Animal Medical Center featuring a state-of-the-art hyperbaric chamber for pets. The funds collected from the sale of this calendar will also help with the purchase of new animal-specific rescue equipment for LFD apparatus.

This partnership is just another great way for SPCA Florida to expand on its mission of helping animals while the Lakeland Fire Department can show its compassion and care for all of the living creatures in its community.


The Lakeland Fire Department is very excited to announce that it will be unveiling its Commemorative Firefighter Sculpture and Reflection Area on Tuesday, December 8, 2015 from 10:30 am to 11:30 am. The dedication and unveiling ceremony will take place at the site of the artistic installation, located directly in front of Fire Station 1 at 701 E Main Street.

The project was envisioned by Lakeland’s firefighters as a way to recognize and honor the sacrifice made by those that serve in the fire service. The Lakeland Fire Department is very fortunate to not have any line of duty deaths at the department so the sculpture is not intended as a memorial, but rather as a commemorative monument to recognize the sacrifice made by firefighters at the City of Lakeland in service to their community.

The sculpture and reflection area will honor their commitment, service, and enduring spirit to provide exceptional emergency service and care for those in need. This monument will be dedicated in gratitude, respect, and recognition of all of Lakeland’s firefighters past, present, and future.

The project has been seven years in the making; with the first five years being a grassroots fundraising campaign. Firefighters of the department directly contributed approximately $70,000 of their personal funds through monthly contributions to raise the bulk of the funds needed. In the past two years community contributions were sought for additional funds and several organizations (listed at www.lakelandgov.net/LFD) contribute, in addition to the firefighters, to make the project a reality.

The Lakeland Fire Department’s Commemorative Firefighter Sculpture and Reflection Area will live on in perpetuity through contributions from the Lakeland Firefighter Foundation Fund of the GiveWell Community Foundation. Donations are still welcome to help with the maintenance, upkeep, and future development of this project and other projects that will enrich the Lakeland community and create awareness of the local fire service. Donations can be directed to the Lakeland Firefighter Foundation Fund at http://www.givecf.org/ or by visiting http://www.lakelandgov.net/lfd and clicking Donate Now.

All members of the community are welcome at the ceremony and all are strongly encouraged to share this information and the attached invitation.

 


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 (https://www.chsfl.org) and the Dream Center of Lakeland (http://dreamcenterlakeland.org), 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 http://www.lakelandgov.net/lfd. 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 www.lakelandgov.net/employmentservices .

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.