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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 


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.


The department is very proud of its 2014 Firefighter of the Year Awardees. 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” from the previous calendar year. The civic groups that present these awards are: Lakeland Knights of Columbus, American Legion, Sons of the American Revolution, and the President’s Round Table of Lakeland.

Several nominations were submitted by LFD firefighters for their peers.  The department is proud to recognize the three of its Firefighter’s who were awarded with multiple Firefighter of the Year Awards for their heroic actions that set them apart for going above and beyond their regular duties.

Lt. Matt Brown: American Legion FFoY (County), American Legion FFoY (State), President’s Roundtable Heroism Award; FFoY.

For running to the aid of a wounded police officer, while off duty.

Driver Engineer Richard Hance: President’s Round Table Heroism Award; FFoY.

For saving young passengers of a horrific car accident, while off duty.

Driver Engineer Petur Leonard: Knights of Columbus FFoY Award. Sons of the American Revolution FFoY.

For rendering emergency medical care to a critical patient in the field. Actions taken by Paramedic Leonard credited for saving the patient’s life.

Congratulations to the 2014 Awardees and sincere appreciation to them for being fine examples of LFD emergency response personnel. 

View photos of the awardees here


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 Knights of Columbus Firefighter of the Year award is Firefighter and Paramedic Petur Leonard.

Petur is being recognized for his medical abilities in the field and particualry for a call last year invlvoing a small child who was saved as a result of Petur and his crew’s actions.

The following narrative submitted by his then lieutenant outlines the events that led to his award:

On September 14, 2014, Rescue Truck (R- 42) was dispatched to an emergency call for a “child not breathing; doing CPR”.  R-42 Driver Engineer (D/E) / Paramedic Petur Leonard and Firefighter / Paramedic Jonathan Forrester immediately responded to the call.

Due to the nature of the call and the possibility of complications, Station 4 Officer, Lieutenant Chuck Davis, decided to also respond to the call with R-42 on Engine 41 (E-41) with its respective crew. 

Rescue 42 arrived on scene first. Lt. Davis arrived on E-41 shortly after and upon entering the home witnessed D/E Leonard rendering medical care on the floor doing chest compressions on the infant patient; all awhile calmly and accurately providing lifesaving orders to the other medical responders on scene.

A few minutes after arriving and beginning compressions on the infant, the patient’s eyes and mouth opened and the child gasped for breath. He had been resuscitated.

D/E Leonard continued with CPR to complete the recommended two minute cycle. At rhythm check during CPR, D/E Leonard found the infant had regained a pulse although the child was not breathing on its own. 

While the other emergency responders assisted at the scene in getting the necessary equipment out and ready for further medical care, D/E Leonard intubated the infant and drilled an Interosseous (IO) needle into the infant’s leg for Intravenous (IV) access for medications and fluids. Petur performed multiple medically complex procedures that are arguably responsible for saving the young patients life.

The work Firefighter/Medics perform in the field is heavily based on teamwork and the assistance of fellow emergency response professionals. In this situation, several crew members worked together to assist in saving this child’s life, as expected of them.  However, the actions taken by Petur Leonard should be noted as having a significant impact on this situation, resulting in such a positive, life-saving outcome.

Congratulations to Firefighter Leonard and job well done! The award ceremony to honor Petur was held at Resurrection Catholic Church on Saturday, January 31, 2013 from 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

 

 

 

 

 


Lakeland Fire Department Celebrates its 2013 Firefighter of the Year Winners

Several Firefighter of the Year awards are given annually to firefighters who demonstrate an outstanding act of heroism or service to their communities.  The awards are the Knights of Columbus Firefighter of the Year Award, the Sons of the American Revolution Heroism Award, and the Presidents Round Table Awards for Public Safety.

Winners for 2013 from the Lakeland Fire Department, which are nominated and awarded in 2014, are Firefighter/Paramedic Luis Hernandez and Driver-Engineer/Paramedic Mike Smith. These two firefighters were manning Engine 31 one fateful August evening when they were called to a general fire alarm call on the 800 block of Bella Vista Street. Upon arriving firefighters noticed signs of active smoke coming from a second story apartment. The door was locked with a dead bolt lock and although they called for forcible entry tools time was of the essence. To avoid any delay, FF Hernandez kicked down the door and both he and D/E Smith, who was serving as step-up Lieutenant that day, quickly entered the apartment to find an unconscious woman, with signs of burns and smoke inhalation. They quickly removed the woman and their quick thinking, action, and bravery is credited with having saved her life.

Firefighter/Paramedic Margaret Orozco is being recognized separately for her steady and significant work with both the state and national level Children’s Burn Foundation Camps.

These three amazing members of the LFD team were nominated by their superior officers. They will be honored for their heroism by the Sons of the American Revolution at a ceremony Saturday, April 19, 2014 at the Cleveland Heights Golf Club at 11:30 AM.

They will also be honored at the Presidents’ Roundtable Safety Officer Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, April 22, 2014 at 11:30 AM at the First United Methodist Church.

These firefighters embody and live the department creed of Duty, Honor, Integrity, and Trust. Their self-less service is invaluable and greatly appreciated by the en
tire department.

Thank you to these firefighter and congratulations! 




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.