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Lakeland Fire Department News


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

Congratulations to the Department's 3 Newest Driver Engineers! 

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, the Lakeland Fire Department promoted three Firefighters to the position of Driver Engineer in a joint ceremony held at Station 1. The ceremony marks a major career transition for the selected firefighters. Family, friends, colleagues, and well-wishers filled the room. Guests included several City of Lakeland Commissioners. 

Being a Driver Engineer comes with immense responsibility and the position is often noted as one of the most important roles at the fire department because of the role they play in getting firefighters to a scene , among other responsibilities. 

Promoted were Michael Brown, Will Becton, and Mark Sloan. 

Michael Brown joined the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) in December 2004 as a firefighter. Michael is also a certified paramedic with the department and a certified fire instructor and pump operator with the state of Florida. Michael, who served in the Army, is also active with the Army Reserve and serves as a Staff Sergeant with the 319th Minimal Care Detachment located in Pinellas Park.

In the pursuit of further professional and personal development, Michael is currently pursuing a degree in Emergency Services from Hillsborough Community College and is in his final semester of college prior to receiving his degree. 

Born and raised in Lakeland, Michael has deep ties to the Lakeland community and is joined by his wife Rachel and their three daughters; Emily (9), Madelyn (3), and Lillian born just four months ago. Michael is a true family man, preferring to spend his free time with his family and traveling with them on spontaneous adventures. 

Michael is excited about his new role at the Lakeland Fire Department and expresses his gratitude by saying “Thank you to all the people that helped be prepare and get to this point in my career.”

Mark Sloan joined the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) in May 2008 as a firefighter. Mark has been with the City of Lakeland since 1999, working with Lakeland Electric prior to his foray into the fire service when he joined LFD. 

Mark is a graduate of the Fire Academy at Hillsborough Community College where he completed fire standards. He then completed EMT training at Hillsborough Community College and continued to pursue professional development, having since received certifications in both Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) and Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF). 

Mark’s promotion to Driver Engineer is one of several professional goals he has achieved, planning to continue his professional growth by pursuing certifications as a Fire Officer 1 and Fire Instructor.

The Florida native was born in Plant City and moved to Lakeland at the age of six, where he went on to graduate from the Kathleen Senior High School. He is joined today by his parents, children, and girlfriend. Mark, the avid athlete and sportsman, enjoys using his free time to stay active and enjoy the outdoors in the company of family and friends. 

Mark is excited about his new role at the Lakeland Fire Department and expresses his gratitude by saying “There are too many names to list but I would like to thank all the Driver Engineer and Lieutenants who helped me with the testing process, as well as all of the drivers, currently employed and retired, who have helped prepare me in the years prior to testing for the position.” 

William Becton joined the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) in October 2007 as a firefighter. 

Will is a graduate of the Fire Academy at St. Petersburg College where he completed fire standards in 2006. Prior to attending Fire Standards, Will completed his EMT training at Hillsborough Community College. The Florida native was born and raised in Ocala, where he graduated from Belleview High School. 

Becoming a Driver Engineer marks a major transition in Will’s career with LFD, and he plans to continue to meet his professional goals by having since received certification as an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) firefighter and aspiring to become an Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team member at the department. 

Will is joined today by his wife, and two of his four children; Hailey, Leah, Lucas, and Katelyn. Being both active and a family man, he shares that he enjoys spending his free time playing sports with his children and relaxing with friends and family. 

Congratulations to them all!

A complete photo album of the event is available here

Kitchen Fire Displaces Two, Injures One

At approximately 6:20 PM, October 27, 2014 the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) responded to a structure fire at 4819 Plymouth Lane. The fire originated in the kitchen due to unattended cooking. In the residence at the time of the fire were the two elderly residents as well as their caretaker who is not related to the residents. The caretaker was outside of the residence working in the yard when the fire broke out. Upon noticing the smoke, the caretaker entered to evacuate the elderly residents. She did so successfully but returned twice more after removing the residents to recover a cell phone and pet dog. In the process, the caretaker suffered from smoke inhalation severe enough to require medical attention. She was transported by Polk County EMS to Tampa General Hospital. Her condition is unknown at the time of this release.

This very unfortunate event serves as a tragic but important reminder that residents should:

• Never leave cooking unattended
• Never reenter a home for pets. LFD’s Firefighters are trained to assist not only humans but pets too. Firefighters will do their best to rescue pets upon arrival. LFD understands that pets play an important role in our lives and are part of the family; however residents should never put their lives in jeopardy to rescue them. Leave that work to our professional firefighters.
• Never reenter a burning structure for material items. Items like phones can easily be replaced. 

This kitchen fire is another in a recent rash of kitchen fires in Lakeland. Kitchen fires are the leading cause of home fires in the United States (and Lakeland) and the third leading cause of fire fatality. This unfortunate event will hopefully serve as a reminder to other residents on the importance of fire safety in the home. Fire safety information, particularly information in regards to kitchen fire safety, is available at

The two residents of the home were evacuated safely thanks to their caretaker but were displaced due to the damage from the fire. They are being assisted by Red Cross of Mid Florida. 

5 Apparatus and 14 emergency response personnel responded.

On October 21, 2014 at approximately 11:30 AM a kitchen fire displaced a family of four at 3909 N Florida Ave. The fire is believed to have started on the stove as grease was being heated for cooking but was left unattended. Grease fires are particularly dangerous because adding water in an attempt to extinguish it can cause the grease to splatter and will only help the fire spread. That’s why it is recommended to smother the grease fire with a lid (if fire is small enough), use an extinguisher capable of handling grease fires, or quickly evacuate and dial 9-1-1 for assistance.

Fortunately no one was injured in today’s fire. Red Cross of Mid Florida is providing assistance to the displaced residents.

This kitchen fire is one of several this year in Lakeland. So far this year, there have been over 35 kitchen fires in Lakeland’s service area. This alarming rate of kitchen fires is why the department implores you to follow these tips to keep your family and home safe:

Cook With Caution:

  • Be Alert
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking
  • Check what you are cooking regularly
  • Keep anything that can catch fire (oven mitts, towels, utensils, etc.) away from the stovetop

If it does go up in flames:

  • Get Out
  • Dial 9-1-1
  • Keep a lid nearby to smother grease fires if small enough
  • Fire in the oven? Turn the heat off and keep the oven door closed.

Cooking equipment is the leading cause of home structure fires and is responsible for more than 480 fire deaths each year, the third leading cause of fire deaths. *

*Source: National Fire Protection Association


On Wednesday, October 15, 2014, the Lakeland Fire Department promoted two Firefighters in a joint ceremony held at Station 1. The ceremony marks a major career transition for the selected firefighters.

The ceremony was attended with family, friends, colleagues, and well-wishers. Guests included several City of Lakeland Commissioners and City management members.

Promoted were Mike Green to Fire Inspector/Investigator and John Fezy to Fire Lieutenant.

Mike Green joined the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) in January 1997 serving as a Firefighter/EMT prior to his promotion to Fire Inspector/Investigator. 

Mike has attended both Valencia College and St. Petersburg College. Mike has since gone on to pursue and receive certifications as a State Fire Inspector 1, National Board Certification in Plans Review, and National Board Certification as a Fire Inspector 1 and 2.

Mike is originally from Gulfport, Mississippi, however did attend high school in Lakeland and is an alumnus of Lake Gibson High School.
Mike enjoys spending time with his family and friends as well as traveling. He also shares that he is looking forward to this new chapter in his career with the Lakeland Fire Department. 

John Fezy began his career as a firefighter with the Lakeland Fire Department on April 17, 2006. Prior to pursuing a career in the fire service, John served as a Firefighter in the United States Air Force.
John is a graduate of the Louis Garland Fire Academy at Goodfellow Air Force Base and Hillsborough Community College. Since having joined LFD, John has also gone on to obtain his paramedic certification and serves as one of the department’s Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) firefighters. 

The South Bend, Indiana native moved to Florida in 2002. John is, joined by both his wife Julie and son Justin. He enjoys spending his free time with his family and friends.

Photo Album of the event can be seen here. 






Always Looking Good and Now Even Better: Lakeland Fire Department unveils new uniforms for all emergency response personnel. 

Friday, October 10, 2014 is the first day you will see Lakeland's Firefighters in new uniforms! One of the major changes you'll notice is the firefighters Class C uniforms have transitioned from T-Shirts to tactical Polos. This transition comes as a result of LFD wanting to have a more modern, relevant, and polished presence in the world-class community it serves. 

The new uniforms are longer lasting for increased savings in reduced replacement cost and strategically colored to indicate the firefighters rank in the field. So take note of the team’s new look so that you can recognize these community helpers in times of need.

Photos available @ 

Update September 30, 2014: Video of the ceremony can be viewed here


The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) will be revealing its fire engine exhibit at the Explorations V Children’s Museum on Tuesday, September 23 at 4:00 PM and you’re invited to join us. A brief ceremony will be held to dedicate the exhibit to the children of Lakeland. Admission to the museum will be complimentary from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM for those attending the unveiling ceremony. Refreshments will be provided. Explorations V Children’s Museum is home to a fire engine exhibit gifted by the Lakeland Fire Department in the late 1990’s. The display is undoubtedly one of the museum’s most popular and is visited by over 50,000 visitors every year! The original installation was a homegrown, grassroots effort created and installed by LFD firefighters who volunteered their time and skills to create an educational and hands on exhibit for children to enjoy.

The original exhibit was used very much and through that use it began showing signs of wear and tear. Through the work of a committee made up of LFD personnel it was decided the exhibit would be revamped to be more functional as well as be a better representation of the newer, more modern Lakeland Fire Department.

The engine was removed from the museum on Friday, July 11, 2014 and has been worked on by Lakeland Firefighters volunteering off duty to refurbish the exhibit. Community sponsors (Pierce Manufacturing, R.F. Lusa and Sons Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc., Indie Atlantic Films, Sherwin-Williams Paints, Explorations V Children’s Museum) also helped by providing resources used on the exhibit.

On August 5, 2014 Chief Ballard was nominated and elected by his peers to become the First Vice President for the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association (FFCA). Having served as the West Central Regional Director and the Second Vice President for the FFCA over the past two years, Chief Ballard has the skills and knowledge to continue to lead within the organization. This new role will allow him to share his 37+ years of experience in an expanded capacity with fire service leaders from all over Florida as First Vice President.

This professional platform will allow Chief Ballard to showcase the excellent emergency services that the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) offers the people of Lakeland, as well as create additional networking opportunities that will add to the quality and scope of LFD’s services. It is also a wonderful opportunity to lend his leadership skills to help the fire service as a whole in Florida.

The FFCA is made up of fire and emergency professionals from all ranks representing all regions of Florida. The association’s mission is to promote and support excellence in fire & emergency services. The association does so by recognizing the fields best and brightest, offering scholarships, fundraising for charity, and providing professional development. With Chief Ballard in this new leadership position, he will undoubtedly continue to expand those efforts.

Congratulations and sincere thanks to Chief Ballard for increasing the City of Lakeland’s profile and presence throughout the state.

LFD is Proud to Announce its Fire-Service Opportunity and Career for Underprivileged Students Scholarship Program (F.O.C.U.S.)

 The department is excited to announce that it has developed and implemented a scholarship program to assist homeless Polk County seniors in high school and recent graduates. The program is intended to and designed to provide the opportunity at a successful adult life through a career in the fire service. The fire service has provided many firefighters with a successful career and enriching experiences. It is the hope that through this program the same can be afforded to a deserving young person.

The scholarship program was born from the department’s desire to help those in need in its community while at the same time addressing desires to develop a workforce that is more representative of its community. In its inaugural year, several compelling applicants came to the selection committee’s attention, and two candidates were selected: Ariel Brant (18, Female) and Owen Forbes Nieves (19, Male), both Polk County School’s graduates who begin classes on August 21, 2014 thanks to the scholarship.

LFD became affiliated with Polk County Public Schools’ Homeless Education Advocates Restoring the Hope (HEARTH) project approximately two years ago. The HEARTH project is a special division within the school system to provide support for students that meet the school boards’ definition of homelessness.

The program is not a guarantee for employment. Although they are encouraged to apply with LFD upon their successful completion of fire standards and meeting all necessary requirements, they are in no way guaranteed employment and must be hired on their own merit. No guarantees are made in regards to their passing or failing of the course. Mentorships will be provided to the students by LFD firefighters to help contribute to their success, although responsibility of succeeding is entirely on the selected candidates.

This opportunity is possible through partnerships with other public service and educational organizations in Polk County. The opportunity was offered to all Polk County students that meet the school boards’ definition of homelessness. For detailed information on the application process, the scholarship, and expectations please visit


The interesting work the department's SWAT Medic team does was featured in Lakeland's The Ledger newspaper. The story focused on training the department's paramedics undergo not only to protect humans but their furry friends too. In this case, the SWAT medics are learning techniques to help K-9 units in the event the dog of an officer is injured. 

Read the entire article and enjoy photos here. 

Lakeland Firefighters Will Remind Motorist School is Back in Session

 Lakeland --- Summer fun is done and school is back in session starting Monday, August 18th for Polk County students. The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) will be promoting safety in school zones as part of its Back to School Safety Campaign, for the fifth year in a row.

On Monday, August 18th, Tuesday, August 19th, and Wednesday, August 20th, 2014, LFD personnel will be in Lakeland 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 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.  

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 - 3:00 PM

Carlton Palmore Elementary

Cleveland Heights Blvd. / Westover St.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:30 - 3:15 PM

Cleveland Court Elementary

Edgewood Dr. /Carolina Ave.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:15 - 3:00 PM

Dixieland Elementary

Ariana Rd. in front of school

7:15 - 7:45 AM

2:15- 3:00 PM

Jesse Keen Elementary

Wabash Ave. in front of school

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:15- 3:00 PM

Lincoln Avenue Academy

Lincoln Ave. / 10th St.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:15- 3:00 PM

North Lakeland Elementary

Robson St. / Baird Ave.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:30 - 3:15 PM

Philip O'Brien Elementary

Lime St. / Lake Parker Ave.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:30 - 3:15 PM

Rochelle School of the Arts

MLK Jr. Ave. / 10th St.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:00- 2:45 PM

Sleepy Hill Elementary

Griffin Rd. / Kathleen Rd.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:15 - 3:00 PM

Southwest Elementary

South Florida Ave. / Oak St.

7:00 - 7:45 AM

2:00- 2:45 PM

McKeel Academy Central *

North Florida Ave. / Oak St.

8:00 – 8:45 AM

3:00 – 3:45 PM

South McKeel Elementary Academy *

South Edgewood Dr. in front of school

8:00 – 8:45 AM

2:45 – 3:30 PM

* McKeel Academy Central and South McKeel Academy begin school on Thursday, August 14 and Friday, August 15 and will be visited then.

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.  

Media Release available here