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After nearly 100 years of waiting, the Lakeland Fire Departments Centennial Celebration is less than 100 days away! The Lakeland Fire Department became a career fire department (previously a volunteer force) on August 16, 1916.

To mark the significance of this achievement and as a way of sharing that pride with the Lakeland community that makes it all possible, the department will be celebrating in several cost effective ways throughout 2016 in honor of its centennial. Centennial Celebration items include: 

§  Commemorative centennial badges for emergency response personnel (paid for entirely out of pocket by the individual firefighters). The badges capture the department’s rich history with patriotic flair (photo attached); 

§  Custom decals for all apparatus to highlight that LFD is proud to be “Celebrating 100 years of Service”. These will be on apparatus through August of 2017; 

§  Commemorative flags at all stations to highlight the centennial;  

§  The restoration of Leaping Lena, the department’s original 1938 Pirsch Fire Truck to be used at public events like the Lakeland Christmas Parade. Restoration has been ongoing for a year; 

§  A centennial celebration for the entire community at Fire Station 1 on August 13, 2016. It will be a free and public event to educate the community on the department’s past and present as well as fire safety. 

 

Another one of those ways the department is celebrating is through a 100 Day Centennial Countdown Campaign on Facebook, which began on Monday, May 9, 2016. LFD shares a picture a day for 100 days to countdown to the centennial anniversary date. The pictures are from the department’s past and present.

This is one of the many small ways we're celebrating as the day gets closer and will culminate with a big community celebration planned for August. You can see the daily picture as well as previously posted pictures on the department’s Facebook page accessible here. 


The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) is pleased to announce that the ten new firefighters that began duty on Monday, April 4, 2016 have successfully completed their three-week orientation program. The new hires are filling vacancies from recent retirements of longtime LFD veterans and openings left as a result of internal promotions. 

The new firefighters experienced the department’s three-week orientation program at the Lakeland Fire Department’s Training Center located at 901 Granada Street. Although all the new hires are certified firefighters, this training course is designed to teach the new firefighters how to do things the “Lakeland” way. They review a full spectrum of practical skills they need to perform on the job as well as emergency medical training before being released into the field. 

The hiring process was selective because of the large pool of applicants. Another opportunity for aspiring firefighters will be available later this year when the department will look to hire additional firefighters to fill retirements anticipated later in the year.

“The selection process was difficult because there were many qualified candidates to choose from. Our hiring committee is confident that it selected the best available candidates and it’s comforting to know that the new rookies joining our ranks are highly skilled and qualified to continue providing the high quality emergency services our department is known for.” said Training Chief John Almskog, coordinator of the hiring effort and leader of the department’s three week orientation program.

Of the ten new hires, one is a certified paramedics while the other nine are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs); although the nine EMTs will have the opportunity to pursue paramedic training once on the job. 

A majority of the new hires hail from central Florida and are graduates of area fire academies like the Ridge Career Center Fire Academy and Hillsborough Community College Fire Academy. 

You can see photos taken from all three weeks here. 


Every year, between the months of January and May, several community organizations select a Firefighter and Emergency Medical Responder of the Year to honor for heroic efforts in the field. The most prominent of the awards being those of the President’s Roundtable, a consortium of several community groups like Rotary, Lion’s Club, and Kiwanis that select emergency responder who have done something above and beyond in the field that required true heroism above the call of duty.

The Lakeland Fire Department is very proud to have two of its Firefighters honored at the event. Firefighter/ Paramedic Cody Ritenour and Firefighter/Paramedic Alvin Catholic for Firefighter of the Year, respectively.

This is a great honor and very well deserved. The incidents that led to their nomination and awards are outlined in the narratives below.

Cody Ritenour:

“On February 15th, 2015 at approximately 9 AM, an unfortunate head-on collision took place in Osceola County on State Road 60. Cody Ritenour, a Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) Firefighter and Paramedic was several vehicles behind the incident when it occurred, while traveling home after completing his shift.

Upon noticing there was commotion up ahead, Cody made his way to the accident scene and found that bystanders had pulled a four year old girl and a six year old boy from one of the involved vehicles; it was quickly filling with smoke from an engine compartment fire. The driver of the vehicle was entrapped and was unresponsive. The fire was spreading quickly and with no way to put it out, Cody decided to instead attempt to get the victim out. He was unable to open the front doors without extrication equipment due to the severity of the crash. He made access into the back seat of the vehicle where he tried to free the entangled victim, yet was unsuccessful. The flames overcame the firewall and entered into the interior of the vehicle where the heat and smoke forced Cody to retreat.

Unable to continue helping the driver, Cody applied his training and experience in the field and turned his attention to the young children involved. He noticed that the four year old girl was unresponsive but was breathing and had a pulse and that the six year old had suffered serious injuries but was alert. The driver of the other vehicle had minor injuries and was ambulatory. Cody sprang into action by calling 9-1-1, identified himself, and gave an accurate on scene report requesting the appropriate units to be dispatched including a fire suppression unit, Emergency Medical Services, police, and that two helicopters be put on standby for pediatric trauma alerts.

Cody continued patient care after hanging up with the emergency operators by accessing the children’s vitals and listening to lung sounds with his personal stethoscope until further support could arrive. Cody directed several bystanders to assist him with the children until fire and EMS crews arrived. Once they arrived, Cody again identified himself and gave them the details of the scene. Cody assisted EMS with patient care and packaging the children for transport. A landing zone was established by crews on scene and two helicopters landed on State Road 60 to fly the children to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children for Trauma Care in Orlando.

We cannot express enough how incredibly proud we are of Firefighter Ritenour. Not only did he risk his own life by attempting to save the driver of the accident from a burning vehicle, but he also put his training to work and took command of the scene. Cody triaged the victims and was able to assemble the necessary resources to give the remaining victims the care they needed and a fighting chance at survival.

Cody is a young man with less than two years of practical fire and medical training however he showed poise and composure beyond his years. At the time this recommendation was written it is unknown what the outcome of the children’s injuries were or what the future holds for them but we are certain that they have a better chance of recovery due to the actions taken by Cody Ritenour on that day.” - Lieutenant Joseph Delegge

Alvin Catholic:

“On December 13th, 2015 at 1am, Alvin responded to a structure fire on LFD Engine 21 with the report of a person being trapped in the apartment.  Upon arrival there was a confirmation of a person that was on the floor in the apartment and was unable to exit the structure on her own. Alvin pulled an 1 ¾ attack line to the door of the apartment and then made entry into the home. Inside of the home, Alvin encountered heavy smoke, heat, and had no visibility. Alvin was able to locate the victim in the living area near the hallway of the residence. After locating the victim, Alvin reassured her and kept her calm, event though she was initially combative. The victim was pulled from the home and delivered to emergency medical crews for treatment.  The victim was able to be treated on scene and released.  Alvin then continued with his firefighting actions and was able to extinguish the fire remaining in the structure.  Alvin’s decisive and quick actions brought a quick resolution resulting in the saving of the woman’s life.” – Lieutenant Chris Farina

Congratulations to both firefighters. They are a shining example of the heroism of all of LFD’s emergency responders who serve Lakeland selflessly every day. 

Firefighter / Paramedic Cody Ritenour 

 

Firefighter / Paramedic Alvin Catholic 


The Lakeland Fire Department’s (LFD) Fire Safety Management division recently underwent some changes when it announced the retirement of Fire Marshal, Alfred “Frank” Bass after 29 years of service. Fire Marshal Bass joined the department in 1987 as a firefighter and went on to become a Fire Inspector and Investigator in 1994 before promoting to Fire Marshal in 2007. The position of Fire Marshal is an important one at LFD, as it is an integral part of the department’s Fire Administration and Leadership Team.

A ceremony was held on Friday, March 11, 2016 at Fire Station 1 to wish Fire Marshal Bass well on his retirement and to thank him for his many years of service to the people of Lakeland.

The department also recently appointed a new Fire Marshal, Cheryl Edwards. Her promotion was marked by a ceremony held on March 14 at Fire Station 1.

This was an exciting and historic announcement for the Lakeland Fire Department, as Cheryl Edwards will be the department’s first female Fire Marshal and member of the Leadership Team in its 100 year history as a career fire department. Cheryl joined the department in 1994 as the Public Education and Information Officer. She has since then served as Fire Inspector and Investigator, which she promoted to in 2008, and has served in the position until her most recent promotion to Fire Marshal.

 


Out of its 150 Emergency Response Personnel, 68 of the Lakeland Fire Departments responders are Firefighter / Paramedics. Eight recent paramedic school graduates, that have tested and become officially certified to practice, are undergoing new paramedic orientation throughout March. The training will last 3 weeks and will conclude on March 27th.

This training includes 116 hours of didactic, video and scenario based training, exceeds requirements set forth by the Florida Department of Health’s re-certification standards, exceeds Advanced Airway training requirements from the Office of Medical Direction and makes LFD’s Firefighter / Paramedics the most highly trained force of emergency responders in Polk County.

This translates to a better quality of medical care in in Lakeland. To keep up with the high standards the department sets for its emergency medical responders and to meet state and county requirement, LFD’s Medical Rescue division also undertakes annual Paramedic Training as well.

Training will take place throughout March so photos will regularly be added to the department's facebook album. To view click here


Throughout February, the department's Firefighter/Paramedics have been learning the Handtevy method. This newly adopted system is designed for quick and efficient pediatric emergency treatment.

The Handtevy is a revolutionary pediatric resuscitation system that combines customization, consultation, education and organization to empower healthcare providers to rapidly and accurately respond to any pediatric call with ease. The Handtevy is the first-of-its-kind customized and age-based system that results in fewer medical errors, increased patient safety and renewed provider confidence.

The award winning system will prepares emergency responders for one of the most anxiety provoking events in healthcare, the pediatric code. The Handtevy is a first-of-its-kind hybrid pediatric resuscitation system that uses both age and length as options to initiate care. Age based resuscitation has the distinct advantage of allowing early determination of critical information prior to arrival on scene. Rather than using confusing formulas to first determine a child's weight, the Handtevy System allows health care providers to quickly determine volumes already pre-calculated and specific to their department's protocol. The ultimate goal is to begin treatment considerations prior to contact with the child where every second counts.

Firefighter / Paramedics at LFD received the raining in house from certified instructors who are also paramedics at the department. 

This training is one of many that Paramedics at LFD receive throughout the year. It is an example of how the department emergency responders work smarter for better outcomes in Lakeland. What matters most is saving lives, and the department takes that responsibility very seriously. 


Firefighter/Paramedic Colin Leidy was awarded the Lakeland Fire Department’s Life Saving Award for his actions in the field that saved the life of a patient. He provided life saving measures in a very distressing situation in December 2015 and as a result the patient he saved was able to visit Fire Station 4 in person to thank him and fellow firefighters for their quick response and efforts that saved her life.

Congratulations to Firefighter Colin Liedy. 

(Details of the incident withheld to protect the patient’s privacy)



Congratulations to the department's newest Driver Engineer, Andy Hawks. He was promoted to the position in a ceremony held Thursday, February11, 2016 in the company of family , friends, and colleagues.

His biography shares: "Andy Hawks has been a valued member of the Lakeland Fire Department since May 2007, when he joined the department as a firefighter.

Andy hails from Skaneateles (Pronounced skɪniˈætləs), New York where he graduated from Skaneateles High School. He has since gone on to receive an Associate’s Degree in Nursing from Polk State College. Andy is not only a firefighter but also a skilled Paramedic at the department. Additionally, he is involved in ancillary teams at the department and serves as an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) firefighter.

Andy is highly esteemed at the department because of his ability, dedication, and drive. He is nearly finished with his Fire Officer 1 course of study and shares that he intends to continue on his current trajectory of career advancement and hopes to one day serve as an officer.

His work at the department keeps him busy but when not on duty, Andy enjoys spending time with his family and watching his son stay active in sports. He also enjoys concerts and staying in shape with CrossFit.
Andy is joined today by his lovely family; his wife, Jessica and son, Sawyer. The family man that he is, Andy candidly shares “I would not be here today if it wasn’t for the desire to give my family everything I can. They are the sole reason I push myself to be better in all I do in life.” "

Congratulations to Andy on his well-deserved promotion to Driver Engineer. The role of Drive Engineer comes with immense responsibility and the Lakeland Fire Department is confident that Andy will excel in his new capacity.


Driver Engineer Kelvin Jones retired on February 5, 2016, after 28 years of service to Lakeland. His retirement ceremony was very well attended with many colleagues, family members, and friends in attendance to wish him well on the new chapter of his life. His biography shares:

Kelvin Jones has been a member of the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) since February 2, 1988. He has given 28 years of service to the people of Lakeland as a Firefighter and Paramedic. Kelvin joined the department as a Firefighter and promoted to Driver Engineer on January 4, 1997, which he retires as today.

Kelvin has an impressive background in working to help others in his community. Prior to his work in the fire service, Kelvin served in the United States Air Force (USAF). He served four years of active duty and then went on to pursue work with the Seaboard Coastline Railroad, which brought him to Lakeland. In making that move, Kelvin transitioned into the role of Reservist with the United States Air Force in 1986. Kelvin served as an Air Evacuation Medic while a Reservist and his work in the military would go on to influence his work helping others as an emergency responder.
Kelvin is a decorated military veteran who served in Desert Storm from November 1990 through March 1991. Kelvin would go on to continue work in the military and at LFD for the next two decades. In 2003 Kelvin retired from the Air Force Reserves as a Master Sergeant. 

Equally as impressive as his tenure at the Lakeland Fire Department and in the United States Air Force is Kelvin’s work as a Registered Nurse, which he still actively works as at Heart of Florida Hospital and the Walt Disney World Wellness Center. 

A Florida native, through and through, Kelvin grew up in Tampa, FL and is a graduate of East Bay High School. Kelvin has an Associate’s degree in Nursing from Polk State College and an Associate’s degree from the College of the Air Force. 

Celebrating Kelvin’s retirement along with him today are Kelvin’s supportive and proud parents, Samuel and Nettie Jones. He is also joined by his lovely wife Shirley and several of their children. Kelvin truly appreciates and enjoys the company of his large and growing family of five sons, one daughter, and a combined fifteen grandchildren in his and Shirley’s blended family.

Kelvin also participates in his community and gives back through his work as a member of the Lakeland Masonic Lodge. Upon retirement, Kelvin looks forward to filling his free time by spending time with his family and enjoying his hobbies of fishing, traveling, and camping in style in his RV. He even looks forward to using his time in retirement to pursue a Pilot’s License and a Master’s degree in Nursing so that he can someday serve as a nursing instructor.

Kelvin shares a quote that has deeply impacted him since a 2003 church service in which he heard it, which explains: “There are two types of people; Actors and Reactors. Which one are you?” and challenges others to live their lives with purpose as he feels he has his.

The Lakeland Fire Department celebrates Kelvin’s 28 years of service and profoundly thanks him for his dedication to the people of Lakeland. Kelvin’s many years of selfless service are deeply appreciated.


Firefighter of the Year: Congratulations to Firefighter/Paramedic Cody Ritenour who was selected by the Knights of Columbus to receive their 2015 Firefighter of the Year award.

Firefighter Ritenour is being awarded the honor for his heroic efforts in saving motorists at the scene of a violent car accident while off duty. 

Firefighters inherently have the qualities you would expect in a hero. Helping others is what they do, and a lot of the skills and qualities they use on duty are used off duty as well. Cody was nominated for the City of Lakeland's Heroism Award based on an his actions off duty in helping at the scene of a violent car accident. He will be recognized at the City of Lakeland Commission meeting on April 6, 2015. The account is best summarized by the nomination narrative: 

"On February 15th, 2015 at approximately 9 AM, an unfortunate head-on collision took place in Osceola County on State Road 60. Cody Ritenour, a Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) Firefighter and Paramedic was several vehicles behind the incident when it occurred, while traveling home after completing his shift.

Upon noticing there was commotion up ahead, Cody made his way to the accident scene and found that bystanders had pulled a four year old girl and a six year old boy from one of the involved vehicles; it was quickly filling with smoke from an engine compartment fire. The driver of the vehicle was entrapped and was unresponsive. The fire was spreading quickly and with no way to put it out, Cody decided to instead attempt to get the victim out. He was unable to open the front doors without extrication equipment due to the severity of the crash. He made access into the vehicle through the back seat where he tried to free the entangled victim, yet was unsuccessful. The flames overcame the firewall and entered into the interior of the vehicle where the heat and smoke forced Cody to retreat.

Unable to continue helping the driver, Cody applied his training and experience in the field and turned his attention to the young children involved.  He noticed that the four year old girl was unresponsive but was breathing and had a pulse and that the six year old had suffered serious injuries but was alert. The driver of the other vehicle had minor injuries and was ambulatory. Cody sprang into action by calling 9-1-1, identified himself, and reported there was a vehicle fire and an unresponsive pediatric that will most likely need a helicopter (later, while working with the first arriving officer he confirmed that the helicopter was indeed requested).

Cody continued patient care after hanging up with the emergency operators by accessing the children’s vitals and listening to lung sounds with his personal stethoscope until further support could arrive. Cody directed several bystanders to assist him with the children until fire and EMS crews arrived. Once they arrived, Cody again identified himself and gave them the details of the scene. Cody assisted EMS with patient care and packaging the children for transport. A landing zone was established by crews on scene and two helicopters landed on State Road 60 to fly the children to Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children for Trauma Care in Orlando.

We cannot express enough how incredibly proud we are of Firefighter Ritenour. Not only did he risk his own life by attempting to save the driver of the accident from a burning vehicle, but he also put his training to work and took command of the scene. Cody triaged the victims and was able to assemble the necessary resources to give the remaining victims the care they needed and a fighting chance at survival.

Cody is a young man with less than two years of practical fire and medical training however he showed poise and composure beyond his years. At the time this recommendation was written it is unknown what the outcome of the children’s injuries were or what the future holds for them but we are certain that they have a better chance of recovery due to the actions taken by Cody Ritenour on that day.

On behalf of the entire Lakeland Fire Department, we would like to formally recommend Cody Ritenour for his heroism and that he be recognized through the City of Lakeland’s Heroism Award Committee for his actions that day, and for responding beyond his call of duty.

Lieutenant  Joseph Delegge " 

The award ceremony took place at the Resurrection Catholic Church Parish Hall, located at 3720 Old Road 37 in Lakeland on January 30, 2016. 

Congratulations to Cody. His heroic and selfless actions are greatly appreciated by LFD and the entire Lakeland community.