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Lakeland Fire Department News


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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


Story Comes Full Circle: An unfortunate event becomes a blessing in disguise thanks to generous donation from Tempur-Pedic Mattress Company. 

In early June of 2015 the Lakeland Fire Department was faced with a Bedbug issue for the first time in its nearly 100 year history. The possibility of bedbugs at a fire station is quite a common occurrence at fire departments across the nation due to the nature of emergency responders’ work and their entering all kinds of environments to provide aid. The bedbugs, which were only found at Fire Station 4, were quickly dealt with by the department through extermination, decontamination, and preventative measures taken at all other stations to prevent it from occurring again. 

LFD’s run in with these pests was well documented by local media and as a result the Tempur-Pedic 's worldwide headquarters in Lexington, Kentucky became aware of what had happened and wanted to help. The company has a charitable arm that provides new mattresses for an array of reasons to emergency responders, military, and non-profit organizations like the Ronald McDonald House. 

Firefighters work 24 hours shift, which requires Fire Stations to have accommodations; although they don’t get used nearly as much use as some may think due to LFD’s high volume of emergency calls coming in at all hours of the day and night. With only 150 total emergency responders, the department responded to approximately 22,000 calls last year alone!

Without any prompting, Tempur-Pedic contacted LFD and provided new mattresses for every single Lakeland Fire Department fire station which arrived Friday, July 17, 2015. They even sent some mattresses along with LFD's shipment for a neighboring fire department, which Polk County Fire Rescue accepted. A total of 120 mattresses were donated to Fire Stations in the two communities.

The department appreciates the generous and kind gesture made by Tempur-Pedic. This will serve the department for many years to come.

See photos from the delivery here

Firefighter/Paramedics Colin Leidy and Alex Sanchez were recognized at the July 6, 2015 City of Lakeland Commission Meeting with the COL Hero Award. 

They received the award for taking extraordinary steps in the field to save a citizen in need. Their quick thinking and skilled practice in the field resulted in a man, who was suffering cardiac arrest, to survive and make a full recovery. The patients wife returned several weeks later with the good news and to thank them both for taking the steps they did to ensure her husbands survival.

They are both greatly appreciated for their service and dedication in the field. You can see pictures from the award presentation here.




Lakeland, FL. June 30, 2015 – Shooting-off fireworks on Independence Day is becoming more hazardous, according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) study. The best available data from the CPSC study shows that in 2013, there were eight deaths and an estimated 11,400 consumers who sustained injuries related to fireworks. This represents an increase from 8,700 injuries in 2012. Sixty-five percent, or 7,400, of the injuries in 2013 occurred in the 30 days surrounding July 4.

Fireworks malfunctions and improper use are associated with the most injuries, according to the study. Injuries frequently resulted from users playing with lit fireworks or igniting fireworks while holding the device. Last year, children under age 5 experienced a higher estimated per capita injury rate than any other age group, according to the study. Past reports indicate that consumers sometimes feel comfortable handing off fireworks to children that are perceived to be less powerful, such as sparklers. Sparklers account for more than 40 percent of all estimated injuries.

The department would like to encourage everyone to leave the fireworks to professionals for a safe Independence Day celebration. However, consumers who decide to purchase legal fireworks (Florida law prohibits any fireworks that fly through the air or explode) are strongly encouraged to follow these safety recommendations:

Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit -- hot enough to melt some metals;
Always have an adult close by to supervise fireworks activities;
Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Back up to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks;
Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy in case of fire or other mishap;
Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and discard;
Never point or throw fireworks at another person;
Never carry fireworks in a pocket or shoot them off in metal or glass containers;
After fireworks complete their burning, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device to prevent a trash fire.

For more fire safety information from the department on fireworks and other important safety topics visit  . Have a SAFE 4thof July. In the event of an emergency 
dial 9-1-1. 

The department is very proud of its 2014 Firefighter of the Year Awardees. 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” from the previous calendar year. The civic groups that present these awards are: Lakeland Knights of Columbus, American Legion, Sons of the American Revolution, and the President’s Round Table of Lakeland.

Several nominations were submitted by LFD firefighters for their peers.  The department is proud to recognize the three of its Firefighter’s who were awarded with multiple Firefighter of the Year Awards for their heroic actions that set them apart for going above and beyond their regular duties.

Lt. Matt Brown: American Legion FFoY (County), American Legion FFoY (State), President’s Roundtable Heroism Award; FFoY.

For running to the aid of a wounded police officer, while off duty.

Driver Engineer Richard Hance: President’s Round Table Heroism Award; FFoY.

For saving young passengers of a horrific car accident, while off duty.

Driver Engineer Petur Leonard: Knights of Columbus FFoY Award. Sons of the American Revolution FFoY.

For rendering emergency medical care to a critical patient in the field. Actions taken by Paramedic Leonard credited for saving the patient’s life.

Congratulations to the 2014 Awardees and sincere appreciation to them for being fine examples of LFD emergency response personnel. 

View photos of the awardees here

Charging an Electric Golf Cart May Pose Unexpected Health Hazards

Although very rare, the Lakeland Fire Department has recently responded to calls involving a home’s carbon monoxide (CO) detector being activated by hydrogen released from an electric golf cart’s battery while being charged.

In one particular instance, the home was entirely electric with no potential source for carbon emissions from a fossil fuel burning source. Fortunately, the homeowners had a carbon monoxide detector. The CO detector activated and LFD crews were called in to investigate. The crews, using specialized monitors detected readings for carbon monoxide emissions although there was no source for carbon monoxide in the home. Through thorough investigation the source of an emission was traced back to the home’s garage where an electric golf cart was being charged.

Electric golf carts use batteries that in good working condition should not produce any emissions, however in the event of a faulty or broken battery there is a potential for hydrogen to be emitted. The emitted hydrogen in turn creates the false positive reading on a carbon monoxide detector.

Excessive amounts of hydrogen can be harmful to humans and in the event of the incident referred to, the home’s occupants described similar symptoms to carbon monoxide poisoning such as headache, nausea, and dizziness. After concluding the investigation for an emission source, LFD crews ventilated the home and everyone returned safely inside.

Similar accounts of faulty golf cart batteries creating a false positive reading of carbon monoxide have been reported by other fire departments in the nation, particularly in areas with high concentrations of golf cart enthusiasts who depend on golf carts as part of their recreational lifestyle.

Lakeland has several communities where many homeowners have electric golf carts. LFD does not want to unnecessarily alarm the public but as a precaution would like to strongly encourage every electric golf cart owner to:

  • Ensure golf carts are well maintained and batteries are in proper working condition
  • Charge electric golf cart batteries in a well ventilated space
  • As a precaution, the department recommends all homes with a golf cart have a carbon monoxide detector to potentially detect any emissions

Although carbon monoxide detectors are not designed for the detection of other gases they have proven helpful in incidents like these. They also provide peace of mind and safety in detecting carbon monoxide which is a more likely hazard and has led to accidental poisonings of home occupants.

Beyond the obvious danger of fire, explosion and asphyxiation, little data is available indicating the health effects of long-term exposure to the gases given off during the battery charging process. The quantity required to cause death is very substantial. NFPA 704 identifies the health effects of hydrogen as being a 0. In addition, OSHA’s Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) and Recommended Exposure Level (REL) are not set due to the fact that hydrogen is considered to be relatively safe below the flammable and explosive levels.

Even though hydrogen is viewed as being non-toxic, occupants in homes responded to by department personnel have complained of headaches, nausea, dyspnea, and vertigo. It is anecdotally believed that this may be caused by hydrogen’s displacement of oxygen in a fairly well-sealed home, and that the lower oxygen concentration may result in patients with the above symptoms.

For more information about carbon monoxide detectors visit

Highly Visible Address Markers Means Increased Safety

The Lakeland Fire Department would like to remind all residence and business owners to update and maintain their address markers so that in the event of an emergency, Firefighters and Emergency Medical Responders can find your location as quickly and efficiently as possible. An accurate and easily visible address is vital for rapidly locating a home or business in any emergency requiring fire, ambulance services, or law enforcement.

Address markers should be highly visible, near the roadway, and reflective.

“When the call for an emergency comes in, we want to get there as quickly as possible to begin helping. Thanks to prepared callers and smarter phone systems we often have the exact address of where we are needed, but not being able to find the address on the building once we arrive in the vicinity can delay our response.” says Battalion Chief Jeff Wharton, who too often sees this problem. “Every second counts, so a building owner can help us tremendously by making sure their location is clearly marked with an easy to see address marker that is highly visible during the day or at night.”

The Lakeland Fire Department would like to encourage everyone to check their address markers and ensure that they are:

  • Large and easy to see from the roadway from both directions
  • High enough off the ground that they won’t be covered
  • Be reflective, painted with reflective paint, or white against a dark background to ensure visibility day or night
  • If you have an electronic gate, please make sure that it is equipped with Knox Box® key override so that it can be opened in the event of an emergency

Lakeland’s Firefighters are very familiar with all of the streets and address patterns in the City’s service area and can quickly arrive in the area where the call for help is. Homes will often have address markers on the structure itself but can sometimes be set back from the road. Clear address markers near the roadway will help responders find the location and allow Lakeland’s Firefighters to focus on their response when every second counts.