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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 http://www.ffca.org/ .

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The Lakeland Fire Department would like to recognize Battalion Chief Mike Williams as the department's first and only graduate (so far) 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. Bat. Chief Williams completed his last class and graduated on Tuesday, March 10, 2015 in Orlando, 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 Battalion Chief Williams for a job well done and thanks for blazing the trail as both a learner and leader for other LFD Officers.



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.



Lakeland Fire Chief Gary Ballard has given the City of Lakeland one more reason to be proud. On July 24 Chief Ballard was selected as the Vice President for the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association (FFCA). Having served as the West Central Regional Director for the FFCA in years past, Chief Ballard will now be able to share his 36+ years of experience in an expanded capacity with fire service leaders from all over Florida as Second Vice President. 


This professional platform will allow Chief Ballard to showcase the excellent emergency services that the Lakeland Fire Department offers the people of Lakeland, as well as create additional networking opportunities that will add to the quality of the fire department’s services.  

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 to Chief Ballard and sincere thanks for increasing the City of Lakeland’s presence throughout the state.