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Lakeland Fire Department News


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The bond forged between the men and women in fire service is universal, regardless of when or where they’ve served. Proof of that was on a recent visit made by the Lakeland Fire Department’s Assistant Chief Doug Riley, along with Station # 5 ‘s Lt. Jim Hewitt, Engineer-Driver Steve Herndon, and Firefighter Jason Vickers who visited retired Massachusetts Firefighter George Coughlin at Clairbridge Place in Lakeland on August 6, 2013. They reached out to Mr. Coughlin to welcome him to the community and for the opportunity to bond over tales of service as firefighters.   

Mr. Coughlin served as a firefighter for over 25 years and upon retiring in Polk County became very involved with fire service related issues in his community. He led the charge and was instrumental in the building of an additional fire station in nearby Winter Haven, and now as a new resident of Lakeland plans to become equally as involved. Firefighters from Station 5 plan to visit regularly to continue to grow the relationship and learn a lesson or two from this valuable veteran of fire service. 

Regardless of disparity in age or location of service, its examples like these that make it clear that firefighting is not a career choice but rather a lifestyle.

On Wednesday, July 31, 2013 in an exceptionally well-attended ceremony, Jason Merritt was promoted to Lieutenant. Lt. Merritt was joined by family, friends, colleagues, and an extended network of City of Lakeland representatives to celebrate his professional advancement with the Lakeland Fire Department. He has been with the department since 2006 and served as Driver Engineer prior to this promotion. Speakers at the ceremony, including Chief Ballard, Bat. Chief Niblack, Bat. Chief Maddox, and Lt. Wilson  all concurred that although Jason is one of the quieter members of LFD he is a man of deep integrity and honor who leads the way for others through his positive attitude and strong work ethic. A big congratulations and sincere thanks to Jason Merritt for his years of dedicated service.


On Thursday, July 25, 2013 in a well-attended retirement ceremony, the Lakeland Fire Department, in the company of Mayor Gow Fields, several city commissioners, City Manager Douglas Thomas, Deputy City Manager Tony Delgado, and Assistant City Manager Brad Johnson, among others representing the City of Lakeland, gave a fond farewell to Battalion Chief Bobby Sloan and Lieutenant Kirby Lastinger, whom retired after 31 and 29 years of service, respectively. 


Congratulations and sincere thanks to both of them for their many years of selfless and dedicated service.