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Lakeland Fire Department News


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

The Lakeland Fire Department is fortunate to have some of the finest firefighters in the field today. Although all are great at what they do, some stand out as exceptional due to their work in the community and their abilities as trained professionals.

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. The first of these recognitions for “Firefighter of the Year” is given by the Knights of Columbus of Lakeland. 

Several nominations were submitted by LFD firefighters for their peers and this year’s winner for the Knight of Columbus award is Firefighter and Paramedic Margaret Orozco.

Margaret is being recognized not only for being very good at what she does but also for her in depth volunteer work with burn camps benefiting young victims of fires, on both a state and national level.

Earlier in 2013 Margaret was recognized for her work in both the city of Lakeland’s Access newsletter and by Lakeland’s The Ledger which featured her in their Monday Morning profile series.

Congratulations to FF Orozco! The award ceremony will be held at Resurrection Catholic Church on Saturday, January 25, 2013 from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

Firefighter and Paramedic Margaret Orozco. Photo courtesy of The Ledger.

Update: Photos from the ceremony held on Saturday, January 25, 2013

Update: March 01, 2014

The Knights of Columbus who awarded Firefighter Orozco with the Firefighter of the Year award have made a generous donation of $250.00 to the Children's Burn Camp in her name. This is in honor of Margaret's work with the group and service to her community. A big thanks goes to the Knights of Columbus for the generous donation to a worthy cause. 

The Lakeland Fire Department's Urban Search and Rescue Light Technical Rescue Team #421 (USAR LTRT-421) was invited by the State of Florida to participate in the South Florida Exercise (SoFLEx) USAR Drill held in Palm Beach on January 8, 2014, and January 9, 2014.  The drill was a joint exercise with various USAR teams from around the state functioning together to perform a search and rescue mission after a natural disaster.  The scenario for this exercise was a Category 4 hurricane (Hurricane Brice) with sustained winds of 100mph that made landfall in Palm Beach County.  There were a total of eight LTRTs and four USAR Task Force Teams that were invited to attend this exercise.  The exercise was divided among two different locations, Palm Beach County State College and the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Training Center.

Upon arrival on day one the USAR LTRT-421 group encountered the scenario in full swing, having been made aware that the Hurricane had made landfall and caused extensive damage trapping several victims. Rescue activities for the Lakeland team on day one included rescuing victims from apartments. The team’s assignments over the two days also included breaching through four sections of concrete to make access into an “apartment” (large conex box) which had a floor collapse, shore the collapse in the “apartment”, and proceed to search into the “parking garage.”  Team members also participated by serving as live victims for drills involving highly trained Search and Rescue Dog’s, much like LFD’s very own Cabella and Primos, although they weren't in attendance. 

These exercises are very useful in training rescue professionals from around the state in the event that Florida is hit by a significant hurricane, a very real possibility. LFD’s USAR team is one of only a few in the state and would play a crucial role in rescuing the trapped living after a major natural disaster.  The exercise was not only a useful learning experience but also provides a good means for networking and interaction among teams, with teams interacting with each other to complete the search and rescue mission.  These exercises allow the teams to work together prior to an actual event.  The members are able to meet each other, learn the tactics of other teams, and get to the teams equipment cache.

LFD’s Light Technical Rescue Team-421 members that participated were:

  • Lt. Matt Brown-Team Leader
  • Lt. “Bubba” Geddings-Rescue Specialist
  • Lt. Matt Luttermoser-Rescue Specialist
  • Mike Wheelis-Logistics Manager
  • Luis Ortiz-Rescue Specialist
  • Todd Burney-Rescue Specialist
  • Jonathan Smith-Rescue Specialist




Newspaper article reporting the training event can be read here

More photos are available here


Content contributed by Lt. Matt Brown, USAR Coordinator for LFD.

Local residents, retired couple Ralph and Mary Capozzi, wanted to personally thank the firefighters responsible for saving Ralph’s life in a medical call ran on October 15, 2013 by LFD’s Engine 51. 

Ralph Capozzi was playing a game of racquet ball at the YMCA located at 3620 Cleveland Heights. After wrapping up the game, Ralph headed into the locker room to freshen up where he later fell unconscious. He was found unresponsive by a YMCA employee. The quick-thinking employee used an AED defibrillator, commonly found in most business today, to assist Mr. Capozzi until further assistance arrived. Emergency service were called and Engine 51’s crew quickly responded and provided basic life support services. Ralph made it through and is very grateful for the high quality service provided by Lakeland Firefighters, which he credits for saving his life. 

In a small ceremony held at Station 2 on January 16, 2014 , near the Cappozi’s home, the couple personally thanked each firefighter involved and presented a thank you card to Engine 51’s crew as well as the additional firefighters available at Station 2 during the gathering.

The Lakeland Fire Department is sincerely dedicated to providing the highest level of emergency service to its community. Heart-warming stories like these are a testament to that. Firefighters involved in the life saving call were Lt. Leon Boatwright, Driver Engineer Mike Thomas, and Firefighter Clayton Kiddey. 


Lt. Boatwright and FF Kiddey with Ralph and Mary Capozzi

Right to Left: D/E Henderson, FF Orozco, Lt. Boatwright, FF Kiddey, Mary Capozzi, Ralph Capozzi, Bat. Chief Williams

Thanking the Firefighters

The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) is proud to announce that its Insurance Service Office (ISO) Public Protection Classification score has improved by an entire rating level from its previous score of 3, to a level 2. This increase may have significant influence in reducing insurance rates for Lakeland residents and businesses considering it plays a big role in how insurance companies - including the largest in the nation - figure rates and decision making in regards to who they underwrite.

The score, based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 representing the highest level of fire suppression standards and 10 indicating an unacceptable level of fire suppression, is produced by ISO through an extensive evaluation process. The department’s services, response times, equipment, personnel, training efforts, community outreach, 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, its new PPC score of 2 indicates a very high level of fire protection.

“The men and women of the Lakeland Fire Department worked very hard to achieve this momentous goal. This is the first time in the history of the department, in the ISO era, that we have accomplished such a high level of public protection classification that can have very real and positive outcomes for the citizens of Lakeland.” said Training Chief John Almskog, who was instrumental in coordinating the review.

ISO auditors visited in July of 2013, during which Lakeland’s Fire Department, Water Department, and Police Communications Center were evaluated to come up with the final determination. Of the 682 ISO rated communities in Florida, only 40 have a level 2 classification placing Lakeland in the top 7th percentile. The LFD’s score of 2 was very strong, only 2 percentage points below a score of 1. The score is anticipated to become effective March 1, 2014.

Newspaper article reporting on the accomplishment can be read here



ISO PPC Scores for communities in the nation and in the state of Florida. Lakeland now ranks in the upper percentile for high quality fire suppression. Graphs courtesy of ISO Properties. 

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that the Lakeland Fire Department says goodbye to Fire Marshall (Ret) Larry Riles. Fire Marshal (Ret) Riles passed away unexpectedly on January 4, 2014. He served with the department for over 24 years. His career with LFD started as a Firefighter and within two years he became a Fire Inspector where he would later move through the ranks to eventually become the Fire Marshall. 


He was admired by many for his personable leadership style and the genuine connections he was known for making not only with fellow members of the department but also with the community he served. 


The Lakeland Fire Department extends its deepest sympathies to the entire Riles family and thanks Larry posthumously for his many years of service to the department and to the people of Lakeland.


Services for Fire Marshall (Ret) Larry Riles will be: 



Coney Funeral Home

1404 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave.

Lakeland, FL  33805

January 10, 2014 (Friday)

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm


Memorial Service

Victory Church Chapel

1401 Griffin Rd

Lakeland, FL  33810

January 11, 2014 (Saturday)

11:00 am



Serenity Gardens

3350 Mall Hill Dr.

Lakeland, FL  33810

(Across from Victory Church)


More information about Larry's impact on the LFD and his community is available here

Obituary information available here.

Condolences can be left here.




On December 24, 2103 Retired Lt. James (Smiley) Bush passed away at Lakeland Regional Medical Center of heart failure. The loss is mourned by the entire Lakeland Fire Department. Lt. (Ret) Bush, affectionately known as Smiley around the department, served with the department for 29 years. He left a big impact on the department, having served with the department during its most formative years. His legacy of community servitude in the fire service lives on through his son, Driver Engineer Anthony Bush who is an active member of the Lakeland Fire Department and has served for 23 years.

The Lakeland Fire Department extends its deepest sympathies to the entire Bush family and thanks James posthumously for his many years of service to the department and to the people of Lakeland.

More information about funeral arrangements is available here.



The Lakeland Fire Department sponsored its annual toy drive from November 25 through December 18, 2013 to benefit the Dream Center and Children’s Home Society charities of Lakeland. The joint effort, sponsored by both the department and the Fire Link  community group, made up of LFD firefighter spouses, gathered several hundred toys and desired items for Lakeland’s children in need in this year’s drive.

LFD staff and Fire Link members were happy to be able to deliver over a truck load of toys to both charities, respectively. Generous donations were made by both LFD personnel as well as many community members who made donations at several of the fire station’s drop boxes.

The toys donated to the Children’s Home Society will be distributed to the over 200 foster children the nonprofit organization helps throughout the greater Lakeland area. 

Items donated to the Dream Center will be distributed on Friday, December 20th to families in need just in time for the holidays, and prior to the toy distribution the LFD participated in a Cookies and Cocoa event on Thursday, December 19th to share some holiday cheer with Lakeland residents in the 5th and Lincoln area. Cookies and warm drinks were served, with appearances by Sparky the Firehouse Dog, and Engine tours for residents. 

Additional pictures are available here

Firefighters at St. 6 with the large amount of toys they provided.


St.1 Crew with Fire Chief Ballard and Fire Marshall Bass


The Fire Safety Management Team with donated goodies

Toys Donated by St. 4 

Lt. Chuck Davis loading up the goods for donation

The Children's Home Society Staff accepting the donations

Toys at their final destination, the Dream Center of Lakeland



On Tuesday, December 17, 2013 in a well-attended retirement ceremony, the Lakeland Fire Department bid a fond farewell to Driver Engineer (D/E) Dean Ayscue. The ceremony featured touching speeches by Fire Chief Gary Ballard, Battalion Chief Wayne Epperson, several lieutenants and fellow firefighters. Assistant City Manager Brad Johnson was in attendance to present Dean with a plaque recognizing his 32 years of service to the City of Lakeland. Driver Engineer Ayscue was joined at the ceremony by his lovely wife Penny of 37 years, his three children Hope, Brad, and Gary, and his six grandchildren.

D/E Ayscue enjoyed a long career with LFD starting in 1983 and was one of the more senior members of the department upon his retirement. Fellow firefighters shared funny and touching stories about Dean’s athleticism, dedication to the job, excellent performance, and his devout faith. Dean serves as a Deacon at his church and plans to focus not only on that but also on his hobbies which include fishing, golfing, softball, and travelling. He also looks forward to the additional time he will have to spend with his family and working on the long honey-do list that awaits him at home.

Congratulations and sincere thanks to Dean for his many years of selfless and dedicated service to the people of Lakeland. 


On Wednesday, December 4, 2013 Shannon Turbeville was promoted to Fire Inspector in a well-attended ceremony. Well-wishers included Mayor Gow Fields and both the deputy and assistant city managers. Speakers shared fun stories about Inspector Turbeville’s time with LFD and remarked on the great job they believe he will do due to his eye for detail and organizational skills. 

Shannon Turbeville joined the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) on October 4, 1999 as a firefighter and was promoted to Driver Engineer in 2006 prior to his promotion to Fire Inspector and Investigator. Inspector Turbeville has consistently sought out opportunities for professional development having received several certifications including Fire Officer I, Fire Safety Inspector, Fire Instructor, Public Information Officer, and Aircraft Rescue & Fire Fighting. He has also successfully completed the Lakeland Fire Department Fire Officer Leadership Development Program.   

Shannon is a Lakeland native, born and raised, having attended and graduated from Lakeland Christian High School prior to seeking a career in the fire service. Shannon received fire standards and completed his Associate of Science degree in Fire Science from Hillsborough Community College in 1998 and completed EMT training in 1999.   Shannon, who happily lives and serves in the community he calls, has been married to his wife Melissa for 14 years and has three growing boys, Nathan, Matthew, and Kenneth. Shannon enjoys boating and hunting during his free time. 

Congratulations Inspector Turbeville!

This joyous time of year is marked primarily by gift giving holidays like Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza and for many it is a time to celebrate family, friends, and everything they are thankful for but for some families in need it can be a distressing time due to not having the resources to provide gifts and toys for their children.

Firefighter’s by nature are selfless, giving, and truly dedicated to helping others before themselves so it comes as no surprise that the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) will be once again sponsoring its annual toy drive to benefit families in need in the Lakeland area. The toy drive will benefit the Dream Center and the Children’s Home Society, respectively, who will provide distribution of the collected gifts to needy families in the Lakeland area.  

Collection boxes are located at all 7 of Lakeland’s Fire Stations and the Fire Administration Building. Community members are encouraged to bring an unwrapped gift for a child 18 years old and under to any of the drop off locations. 

The collection boxes will be available at the fire stations from November 25, 2013 through December 11, 2013.

All donations of new unwrapped gifts are welcome and appreciated.

For drop off locations click here.