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Lakeland Fire Department News


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Plane Crash Leads to Structure Fire; Explosive Chemicals Inside

 Lakeland, FL- At approximately 9:20 AM a call came for a structure fire at Key Safety Systems, 5300 Allen K Breed Hwy, Lakeland, FL. Reports also came in of a plane in distress from local witnesses.

Upon arriving Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) firefighters encountered a fully engulfed building. Crews were quickly made aware of potentially explosive chemicals being stored in the warehouse space, a former plastics warehouse. Being a storage facility with no people inside, crews attacked the fire from the exterior with no firefighters entering due to the potential safety risks to firefighters.

The fire contained by crews within approximately one and half hours. Inside were chemicals Nitrogaunidine and Powdered Aluminum.

Nitorguanidine must be kept wet or it will become potentially explosive. These chemicals were stored by Key Safety Systems for the manufacturing of airbag systems in vehicles. Due to the risk to of the chemicals exploding firefighters did not enter until the fire was contained. Polk County Fire Rescue’s Hazardous Materials Team was called to assist and upon fire being extinguished team entered the structure to survey the site and perform reconnaissance of the chemicals.

It has been confirmed that the fire started due to a plane crash at the scene. There were two passengers on board. The plane belonged to local flight school Tail Wheels inc. based out of Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. It was a Piper Apache A23 plane, tail # 465JA.

Since extinguishing the fire, water has continued to be applied to the site via unmanned, remote controlled equipment to stabilize the chemicals inside and keep temperatures down. Crews are now undergoing the methodical tasks of keeping the temperatures down and inspecting each individual unit of uncompromised Nitorguanidine and Powdered Aluminum. Crews are checking temperatures and ensuring they are no longer a risks before allowing Lakeland Police Crime Scene Investigators in to investigate. ACT Environmental has been called on scene to remove the chemicals and will do so once the scene is investigated and cleared.

Upon cursory inspections of the warehouse there are no airplane parts or victims to recover. It is suspected that this is due to the high temperature at which the chemical fueled fire burned. Once able to be allowed in LPD Crime Scene investigators will be able to investigate and confirm any findings.

At time of this media release LFD crews are still on scene performing overhaul of the structure and contents inside.

This occurred in a primarily industrial are so there is no risks to any nearby residents or commuters. The property is surrounded by additional warehouse space and pasture land.

This will likely continue this through the rest of the day. If anything new develops it will be shared via Lakeland Fire Department’s Twitter, Facebook, and Website pages as well as via email to media outlets.




On January 20, 2015 at the City of Lakeland Commission Meeting, Herve Casmir was presented with the Lakeland Fire Department's Citizen Heroism Award for his actions in helping save 6 residents from an early morning kitchen fire. Below is the award narrative describing his heroic efforts which led to him receiving the award. 

Narrative for Citizen Hero Award

On December 5, 2014 at 2:26 AM the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) was called to 831 Lake Avenue N, Lakeland, FL for reports of a building fire.


Upon arrival LFD firefighters encountered a structure heavily entrenched in smoke due to a kitchen fire. The fire had been extinguished prior to the fire crew’s arrival by Security Guard Herve Casmir. Due to his heroic actions, outlined in this narrative, LFD would like to award Herve with a Citizen Hero Award.


Herve is a security guard at Gilmore Apartments, which is adjacent but separate to the home where the fire occurred. While making regular rounds as part of his work duties he noticed smoke coming from the home at 831 Lake Ave. He made his way to the home to investigate further, which is when he noticed even heavier smoke and began banging on the door and windows. His knocking awoke two children sleeping in the living room whom opened the door, allowing him to enter. He evacuated the two children and asked if there were any others inside, when they then informed him that there were four others sleeping inside. He made his way through the home and woke and evacuated everyone.


After the inhabitants were evacuated, Herve reentered the home as the smoke got heavier and he followed the source of the smoke into the kitchen. He noticed the fire source was a pot on the stove which he picked up and took outside to extinguish. Although the Lakeland fire Department would never recommend someone put themselves in risk to extinguish a fire, Hevre did. He then proceeded to call 9-1-1 for assistance.


Herve suffered from smoke inhalation as a result of his actions and was treated at the scene by LFD personnel as well as transported for additional care.


As a result of Herve’s heroic and selfless actions he consequently recued 6 inhabitants in the home, of which several were children. This is an incredible example of heroism, where an individual places themselves in harm’s way to save the lives of others.


Cooking fires are the leading cause of fire in Lakeland and in the nation and the leading cause of injury from a fire. Additionally the fire broke out at night, while inhabitants were sleeping which significantly increases the risk of a fire fatality. Lastly, the home where the incident occurred did not have working smoke alarms at the time which increases the chances of a fire fatality by 75%. The odds were stacked against the inhabitants in this home, and the department feels strongly that had Herve not provided such heroic efforts (noticing, evacuating, extinguishing, and calling 9-1-1) the outcome of the fire could have been devastating in damage to both life and property.


This is why the Lakeland Fire Department is proud to present Herve Casmir with its Citizen Hero Award. The entire department acknowledges and thanks Casmir for his life saving actions and commends him for helping his fellow citizens in need. 


Photos from the presentation are available here

Car in Car Port Fire @ 819 Golden Rule Ct, Lakeland, FL

Lakeland - At approximately 4:28 PM a car caught on fire in the carport of a home at 819 Golden Rule Ct. The flames quickly engulfed the car port. Although the flames did not extend into the home, the fire did lead to smoke damage elsewhere. Two homeowners were present with one treated on scene by LFD's firefighters and Polk County Fire Rescue EMS. The other homeowner was transported to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for smoke inhalation. 

Fortunately because of the proximity to Fire Station 2 located on the corner of S Florida Ave and Beacon Rd, Engine 21 arrived within minutes of the call coming in to dispatch, allowing the fire to be contained quickly and prevent the fire spreading to create further damage. Additional units arrived shortly there after to assist. 

At this time no further information is available. Updates will be made if new information becomes available.

Photos available at 

Learn more about Station 7 here. 

Bringing in the New Year with a New Fire Station

 Lakeland, FL The Lakeland Fire Department’s (LFD) newly constructed and much anticipated Fire Station 7 will be operational with Firefighters providing service from the new location by the second week of January 2015.

The new fire station has been under construction since late fall 2013. It is now nearly complete, with final details being addressed by City of Lakeland partners and contractors. An official grand opening ceremony will be held on Friday, January 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM. Media, community members, and public officials will be asked to join LFD to celebrate this exciting new addition to the City of Lakeland that will help better serve the community.

The new fire station will serve dual purposes, as a community fire station serving the southwest Lakeland community and as an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) station for the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.

Assistant Fire Chief Rick Hartzog, who has served as the fire department’s project manager for the new station, explains “We are very excited to be able to provide service from the new station. The new Fire Station 7 is a one of a kind structure that is designed with the future in mind while meeting the needs of today and we are ecstatic to get to share that with our community.”

Although the construction of the new Station 7 is just nearly complete, service to the Southwest quadrant of the Lakeland community has been provided from a temporary Fire Station 7 since early 2013 and service to the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport since 2006. The move from the temporary station to the new station prior to the grand opening ceremony on January 16, 2015 will not disturb regular service to the area in any way.

The media is invited for an exclusive look at the new fire station on January 16, 2015 from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM prior to the official ceremony beginning. Officials will be on hand for interviews.


Firefighters filled in for Santa’s Elves 

The response to the LFD Toy Drive has been overwhelming. Hundreds of toys have been donated by Firefighters and Community Members alike, and earlier today approximately 600 of those toys made their way to the Children’s Home Society.

The 600 toys, estimated at a value of nearly $8,000 were donated to the Children’s Home Society and the giving doesn’t end there! The Toy Drive continues through December 19 and once the drive concludes several hundred other toys will be given to the Lakeland Dream Center. 

This tremendous donation of toys to children in need would not be possible without the incredible men and women who serve as firefighters who have given so generously. The toy drive has also been a great success thanks to generous community members who have donated toys that will surely make lasting memories for many children. 

The complete album of the toy delivery is available at 

At 1:06 PM, on Monday, December 8, 2014 the Lakeland Fire Department responded to a fire at 3520 Cleveland Heights Blvd at the Park Verona Apartment complex. 

A fire broke out in the kitchen of a downstairs unit of the two story apartment complex. The resident attempted to contain the fire prior to emergency services being called for assistance. His upstairs neighbor Stephen Phelps, who happens to be a maintenance worker at the apartment complex, noticed the sounds of a smoke alarm and heavy smoke coming from the downstairs level. He notified authorities an attempted to evacuate the nearby apartment units. 

The sole resident of the affected unit was transported to Lakeland Regional Medical Center for his non-life threatening injuries. 

This kitchen fire marks the 55th kitchen fire of 2014 in Lakeland, of the reported 105 building fires. This event serves as an unfortunate but important reminder for residents. The Lakeland Fire Department strongly encourages all citizens to:

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.

Fire safety information, particularly information in regards to kitchen fire safety, is available at


A delegation of experienced Lieutenants and Drive Engineers from the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) attended the 2015 High Rise Operations Conference in Pensacola Beach, FL from December 2nd-4th.

The delegation in attendance is gathering helpful information that will be used to review and update LFD’s current policies and rescue tactics in regards to high rise buildings. The ability to provide the best available rescue services, especially in a rapidly expanding city like Lakeland, is a priority to LFD so that it can maintain the high level of quality it is known for.

This is the 2nd annual conference of its kind. The professional gathering includes over 400 firefighters from various cities in Florida, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and even Canada!  The conference is provided by a distinguished core of instructors of Company Officers and  Fire Chiefs from FDNY, Denver, Chicago, and Miami-Dade fire department to name a few.

The delegation is made up of Lt.’s Matt Brown, Joey Delegge, Harley Wilson, and D/E Kawailani Kuikahi. 

The Lakeland Fire Department is collecting new, unwrapped toys for Lakeland’s children in need.The toy drive will benefit the Children’s Home Society of Florida and the Lakeland Dream Center who will provide distribution of the collected gifts to needy families in the Lakeland area.


Collection Boxes are at All Fire Stations

December 5 - December 19

For Station Locations click here

On Wednesday, December 3, 2014 the Lakeland Fire Department promoted two new lieutenants in a joint ceremony held at Fire Station 1.  

The ceremony marks a major career transition for the selected firefighters. Family, friends, colleagues, and well-wishers filled the room. Guests included members of City of Lakeland Management, several City of Lakeland Commissioners and Mayor Howard Wiggs. 

The role of Lieutenant comes with immense responsibility and the ceremony served to mark their transition into their new roles and herald a momentous new part of their careers at LFD.

Promoted were Chris Caustic and John “Duke” Driskell.

Chris Caustic joined the Lakeland Fire Department in July 2002 as a firefighter.

Chris is a Lakeland native, born and raised, who graduated from George Jenkins High School. After graduation he soon went on to complete Fire Standards at the Fire Academy at Ridge Career Center. Chris has studied fire science extensively and has studied at Polk State College, the Florida State Fire College the Central Florida Fire Academy, and the Lake County Institute Fire College.

Chris is a very active and involved member of the Lakeland Fire Department. In addition to his work as a firefighter prior to this promotion he has lent his skills and abilities to serve as the Vice President of the Local IAFF #4173 chapter of the Firefighters Union, sits on the Firefighter Pension Board as a trustee, and is a member of several committees including the Lakeland Firefighters Foundation Fund and the Performance Review committee.

Chris is a driven professional who values career advancement and has since gone on to pursue and receive certifications as a Fire Officer I, Fire Inspector, Fire Instructor, in Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) and Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF). He is also an avid USAR team member and instructor. He also plans to continue developing his career by pursuing certification as a Fire Officer 2 and earning an advanced degree.

John “Duke” Driskell has been part of the Lakeland Fire Department since November 2003 having served as a firefighter and promoting to Driver Engineer in October 2011, prior to his most current promotion to Lieutenant.

The Florida native, born and raised in Plant City, graduated from Plant City High School and went on to pursue a career in the fire service after completing Fire Standards training at Hillsborough Community College, where he also received his EMT certification. John, a driven professional, has since gone on to pursue and receive certifications as a Fire Instructor, Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), and Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF).  He serves on both the USAR and ARFF team at the department.

John notes that he looks forward to the new adventures and opportunities that come along with his new assignment as Lieutenant. He hopes to continue to make a difference at the department in his new post and has professional aspirations to one day serve as a Fire Inspector and Investigator.

Congratulations to them both.  

A complete photo album of the ceremony is available here


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