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Lakeland Fire Department News


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

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

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.