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Lakeland Fire Department News


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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 .

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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.

The Lakeland Fire Department will conduct the official groundbreaking ceremony for Fire Station 7 on Monday, November 18th at 1:30 p.m.  The physical location of Station 7 is 3150 Drane Field Road.

The current station is housed in a temporary facility at the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport until the new state of the art fire station is ushered in by late 2014. The building will stand out compared to the department’s other stations due to its modern and environmentally conscious design.  Once the facility is built it will house the recently purchased Fire Engine 71, the two ARFF units, a heavy rescue vehicle and nine personnel on a 24-hour rotation. 

Lakeland Fire Chief Gary Ballard said, “Our design team has developed a station that will meet the safety needs of the airport, the needs of our residents and the commercial development around the airport.” He added, “We are very eager to start providing much needed service to the citizens in Southwest Lakeland with the new permanent facility.”

The construction costs associated with Station 7 are $3.5 million.  The station once built will be 15,900 sq.ft. and it will house five bays and four fire fighting vehicles.  The station is estimated to be completed November 2014 and it is being funded through City of Lakeland Public Improvement Funds and FDOT Grant funds.

The public is welcome to attend the groundbreaking ceremony, marking a historic event for the Lakeland Fire Department.