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Lakeland Fire Department News


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

The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) marked an important moment in the career of 13 of its newer members in ceremonies held November 2-4, 2015 for firefighters hired in November 2014. The ceremonies marked a successful first year with the department and their transition from “Rookie” Firefighters to “Regular” Firefighters.

These 6 firefighters successfully made it through LFD's rigorous hiring process, new hire orientation, and a yearlong probation period that includes multiple skills, physical abilities, and knowledge assessments. 

Firefighters Slappey, Stafford, Burger, Friedman, Lutz, McCutcheon, Geiger, Novogrodsky, Allison, Scripter, Sutherland, Rivera, and McLendon celebrated their transition from probationary to regular firefighters in the company of family, friends, and colleagues. 

The ceremony marks the completion of the Personal Qualification Standards that the department uses to vet only the finest candidates. This probationary period is designed to ensure that new additions live up to the department's standards and are cut out for a difficult line of work in the fire service

LFD is experiencing rejuvenation in its workforce with these 13 young firefighters coming on board last year. The new hires fill vacancies left by retirements and meet staffing needs from recent expansion with new Station 7.

Congratulations to all of the young Firefighters!  Photos from all three ceremonies, held on each shift respectively, can be viewed here. 

Lakeland Fire Department representatives are currently in Appleton, Wisconsin for the inspection of two new engines heading to Lakeland very soon to replace the current Engines 11 and 41, respectively.

The receipt of new engines entails a highly detailed and thorough inspection of each and every component on the apparatus (pictured). Members on an internal committee, made up of LFD personnel, help design and see its assembly through. Members visit the Pierce Mfg facility in Wisconsin to undertake the inspection process before accepting delivery. Once it is ready the Engines are driven down from Wisconsin to the department’s Maintenance Facility at Station 4 where they will each individually be outfitted with all of the specialty tools and equipment firefighters need to protect Lakeland. Once in service in approximately a month, a follow up story and photos will be posted.

The replacement process is efficient because the older engines that the new engines are replacing are kept as reserve engines in LFD’s fleet. When other engines in the fleet are down and out of service for repair and maintenance, the reserve engine can be put into service so that there aren’t any interruptions to LFD’s response to Lakeland’s calls for service. The average engine at the department has an approximately 17 year life cycle, where they are then sold off at auction to recuperate expenses. Additionally, through an amortization program in place at LFD, the new engines do not create any new expenses to the annual budget that haven’t already been accounted for. This allows for the City of Lakeland, FL (Government) community to have the equipment it deserves when it needs it most with minimal financial impact.

See the entire photo album with lots more photos of Engine 11 and 41 here.

The Lakeland Fire Department would like to recognize Assistant Chief of Operation, Doug Riley, as the department's second graduate (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. Chief Riley completed his last class and graduated on July 20, 2015 in Naples, 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 Chief Riley on a job well done and thanks for blazing the trail as both a learner and leader for other LFD Chief Officers.

Lakeland Fire Department and SPCA Florida Launch Partnership - Wellness Wagon Stop Scheduled for Saturday, August 8 at St. 1 

Lakeland, FL— Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) and SPCA Florida—organizations that value the role pets play in healthy lives—are partnering together to further each organization’s mission of serving the community’s two and four-legged residents. On Saturday, August 8, SPCA Florida’s mobile pet vaccination unit, the Wellness Wagon, will visit LFD Station 1, 701 E Main St, Lakeland, 33801 from 3-5 p.m. The Wagon is open to public animals in need of affordable vaccines, microchips, and preventative products such as flea, tick and heartworm control. The location is ideal as it is centrally located, easily accessible and pet-friendly with shade.

“We are excited to partner with Lakeland Fire Department on this new Wellness Wagon stop, and to offer our full-service medical center as needed for injured or distressed pets they encounter during emergencies,” said SPCA Florida Executive Director Adam Stanfield. LFD has equipment on its apparatus, including animal specific oxygen masks and medical rescue kits, to help pets in medical need that may be encountered in fire calls or medical responses for human patients. Stanfield said the medical center’s hyperbaric oxygen therapy unit has previously proven effective in expediting healing in feline and canine smoke inhalation victims. “While we always hope those unfortunate circumstances do not arise, we hope to save more lives by providing that healing technology to the four-legged residents LFD serves.”

Beyond its rescue efforts, LFD currently provides pet fire safety education, and has participated in SPCA Florida’s Walk for Animals at Lake Mirror. The partnership will also help support pet rescue training for LFD’s specialty teams including SWAT Medics and Urban Search and Rescue team members with SPCA Florida providing medical facility access.

For more information on the LFD and SPCA Florida’s first partnership initiative, the Wellness Wagon stop on Saturday, August 8, please visit 

About Lakeland Fire Department:

Established in 1916, the Lakeland Fire Department has a rich history, approaching nearly 100 years of service as a career fire department. The department has seven stations serving approximately 100,000 people in the City of Lakeland. The department has 170 employees of which 150 are emergency response personnel. In 2014, the department responded to over 21,000 service calls in its 84 square-mile response area, which includes the city limits as well as portions of unincorporated Lakeland. The department offers a wide range of services to include heavy rescue, technical rescue, fire prevention, fire code enforcement, fire investigation, aircraft rescue and firefighting, and in-house fleet maintenance; all in addition to fire suppression and emergency medical response.

About SPCA Florida:

Founded in 1979, SPCA Florida exists to eliminate animal suffering and engage the entire community in the welfare and well-being of animals. SPCA Florida will help and heal 70,000 dogs and cats through its McClurg Animal Medical Center and provide direct care for 6,500 animals through its Adoption Center this year. Ani-Meals, which provides food and medical care for animals of homebound families, helps thousands more dogs and cats each year.

For photos highlighting the partnership launch click here

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 .

See more photos here


Firefighter/Paramedics Colin Leidy and Alex Sanchez were recognized at the July 6, 2015 City of Lakeland Commission Meeting with the COL Hero Award. 

They received the award for taking extraordinary steps in the field to save a citizen in need. Their quick thinking and skilled practice in the field resulted in a man, who was suffering cardiac arrest, to survive and make a full recovery. The patients wife returned several weeks later with the good news and to thank them both for taking the steps they did to ensure her husbands survival.

They are both greatly appreciated for their service and dedication in the field. You can see pictures from the award presentation here.




Incident @ 2050 E Edgewood Drive Lakeland, FL:

A Uhaul truck hit the corner of a 6 unit apartment building. The impact and location of where the truck hit put the rest of the building in jeopardy of further collapse, creating a high risk situation. LFD's Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team was immediately called to the scene to help prevent further collapse or injury. 10 firefighters were on scene. Lakeland is fortunate to have USAR trained firefighters, avoiding delays in response or the need for outside fire departments to assist.

Six families have been displaced as a result and the building is deemed uninhabitable for the time being. The apartment building's insurance coverage is providing lodging for the displaced families. LPD secured area and Lakeland Electric was on scene to cut power to the building. The truck hit near the electrical meters of the structure.

As of 1:30 PM the building was secured and the rental truck was removed. Crews have since cleared the scene.

There were no injuries.



Images are available here

Lakeland Firefighters Will be Hitting the Streets February 2 to Install

Smoke Alarms Where Needed Most


Firefighters from the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD), Community Educators from the Lakeland Police Department (LPD), and members of the American Red Cross will be hitting the streets and visiting local residents door to door in Central Lakeland on Monday, February 2, 2015 to perform free smoke alarm inspections and installing smoke alarms as needed from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

This effort is a result of a partnership between LFD and the American Red Cross’ who recently kicked off a national campaign to reduce deaths and injuries through the use of smoke alarms in neighborhoods with higher numbers of home fires.

During the smoke alarm installation program, firefighters and community volunteers will fan out to homes surrounding Fire Station 3, located at 110 W. Bella Vista Lakeland, FL  33805 . This is area is targeted because statistically there is a higher prevalence of life threatening emergencies in this area vs. others in Lakeland .

Installing smoke alarms in the homes of Lakeland residents who don’t have them will increase their odds of surviving a home fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), working smoke alarms are the key to saving lives from fire. “Smoke alarms are the most effective early warning device there is,” says LFD Fire Marshall Frank Bass. “Just having a smoke alarm in your home cuts your chance of dying in a reported fire in half.”

“Our goal is to make sure residents have the protection of a smoke alarm,” says Project Manager Steve Thompson of the American Red Cross who helped coordinate the effort “because smoke alarms alone won’t prevent every fire death, our project includes educating residents to have a home fire escape plan so they know what to do if the smoke alarm sounds.” 

Plane Crash Leads to Structure Fire; Explosive Chemicals Inside

 Lakeland, FL- At approximately 9:20 AM a call came for a structure fire at Key Safety Systems, 5300 Allen K Breed Hwy, Lakeland, FL. Reports also came in of a plane in distress from local witnesses.

Upon arriving Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) firefighters encountered a fully engulfed building. Crews were quickly made aware of potentially explosive chemicals being stored in the warehouse space, a former plastics warehouse. Being a storage facility with no people inside, crews attacked the fire from the exterior with no firefighters entering due to the potential safety risks to firefighters.

The fire contained by crews within approximately one and half hours. Inside were chemicals Nitrogaunidine and Powdered Aluminum.

Nitorguanidine must be kept wet or it will become potentially explosive. These chemicals were stored by Key Safety Systems for the manufacturing of airbag systems in vehicles. Due to the risk to of the chemicals exploding firefighters did not enter until the fire was contained. Polk County Fire Rescue’s Hazardous Materials Team was called to assist and upon fire being extinguished team entered the structure to survey the site and perform reconnaissance of the chemicals.

It has been confirmed that the fire started due to a plane crash at the scene. There were two passengers on board. The plane belonged to local flight school Tail Wheels inc. based out of Lakeland Linder Regional Airport. It was a Piper Apache A23 plane, tail # 465JA.

Since extinguishing the fire, water has continued to be applied to the site via unmanned, remote controlled equipment to stabilize the chemicals inside and keep temperatures down. Crews are now undergoing the methodical tasks of keeping the temperatures down and inspecting each individual unit of uncompromised Nitorguanidine and Powdered Aluminum. Crews are checking temperatures and ensuring they are no longer a risks before allowing Lakeland Police Crime Scene Investigators in to investigate. ACT Environmental has been called on scene to remove the chemicals and will do so once the scene is investigated and cleared.

Upon cursory inspections of the warehouse there are no airplane parts or victims to recover. It is suspected that this is due to the high temperature at which the chemical fueled fire burned. Once able to be allowed in LPD Crime Scene investigators will be able to investigate and confirm any findings.

At time of this media release LFD crews are still on scene performing overhaul of the structure and contents inside.

This occurred in a primarily industrial are so there is no risks to any nearby residents or commuters. The property is surrounded by additional warehouse space and pasture land.

This will likely continue this through the rest of the day. If anything new develops it will be shared via Lakeland Fire Department’s Twitter, Facebook, and Website pages as well as via email to media outlets.




Learn more about Station 7 here. 

Bringing in the New Year with a New Fire Station

 Lakeland, FL The Lakeland Fire Department’s (LFD) newly constructed and much anticipated Fire Station 7 will be operational with Firefighters providing service from the new location by the second week of January 2015.

The new fire station has been under construction since late fall 2013. It is now nearly complete, with final details being addressed by City of Lakeland partners and contractors. An official grand opening ceremony will be held on Friday, January 16, 2015 at 11:00 AM. Media, community members, and public officials will be asked to join LFD to celebrate this exciting new addition to the City of Lakeland that will help better serve the community.

The new fire station will serve dual purposes, as a community fire station serving the southwest Lakeland community and as an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) station for the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport.

Assistant Fire Chief Rick Hartzog, who has served as the fire department’s project manager for the new station, explains “We are very excited to be able to provide service from the new station. The new Fire Station 7 is a one of a kind structure that is designed with the future in mind while meeting the needs of today and we are ecstatic to get to share that with our community.”

Although the construction of the new Station 7 is just nearly complete, service to the Southwest quadrant of the Lakeland community has been provided from a temporary Fire Station 7 since early 2013 and service to the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport since 2006. The move from the temporary station to the new station prior to the grand opening ceremony on January 16, 2015 will not disturb regular service to the area in any way.

The media is invited for an exclusive look at the new fire station on January 16, 2015 from 9:30 AM to 10:30 AM prior to the official ceremony beginning. Officials will be on hand for interviews.