City News Blog


The latest happenings in your city government.

LAKELAND, FL (January 8, 2015) — The City of Lakeland is offering its 14th Annual Citizens Academy to area residents starting February 26, 2015.  The Citizens Academy is a free, hands-on, interactive public information program that familiarizes citizens with City services and the functions of City Departments.
The Lakeland Citizens Academy allows residents to get a behind the scenes look of how City government operates and it provides an outlet for citizen input. The program consists of six (6), two (2) hour evening sessions. 

2015 Session Dates

February 26 History & Finance

March 5          Police Department

March 12        Fire Department

March 19        Public Works & Planning

March 26            Utility Services

April 9          Parks & Recreation           

The program is limited to 30 citizens aged 16 or older.  Enrollment in the class is based on a first-come-first-served basis.  All participants interested in the Citizens Academy are encouraged to attend all of the sessions in order to get the most from the program.
All sessions, unless otherwise noted, are from 6-8 p.m. The first session will take place in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall, 228 South Massachusetts Avenue (a light dinner is served at 5:45 p.m. during all sessions).  At least half of the sessions will meet away from City Hall and directions will be given for each City building or facility that hosts a Citizen Academy session.
The class will graduate with a certificate in “Governmentology”  at the end of the last session and a catered meal will be served.  Those interested in participating should contact Kevin Cook at 863/834-6264 or to secure a spot on the roster.


The Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) is proud to announce that its Insurance Service Office (ISO) Public Protection Classification score has improved by an entire rating level from its previous score of 3, to a level 2. This increase may have significant influence in reducing insurance rates for Lakeland residents and businesses considering it plays a big role in how insurance companies - including the largest in the nation - figure rates and decision making in regards to who they underwrite.


The score, based on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 representing the highest level of fire suppression standards and 10 indicating an unacceptable level of fire suppression, is produced by ISO through an extensive evaluation process. The department’s services, response times, equipment, personnel, training efforts, community outreach, and more were evaluated to develop a final score. That score in turn provides both insurers and the fire department a comprehensive measure to rate the quality of the fire protection they provide. In Lakeland’s case, its new PPC score of 2 indicates a very high level of fire protection.


“The men and women of the Lakeland Fire Department worked very hard to achieve this momentous goal. This is the first time in the history of the department, in the ISO era, that we have accomplished such a high level of public protection classification that can have very real and positive outcomes for the citizens of Lakeland.” said Training Chief John Almskog, who was instrumental in coordinating the review.


ISO auditors visited in July of 2013, during which Lakeland’s Fire Department, Water Department, and Police Communications Center were evaluated to come up with the final determination. Of the 682 ISO rated communities in Florida, only 40 have a level 2 classification placing Lakeland in the top 7th percentile. The LFD’s score of 2 was very strong, only 2 percentage points below a score of 1. The score is anticipated to become effective on March 1, 2014.


Lakeland Firefighters Respond to Lake Bentley Shores Condominium Fire
Four Injured, Including One Firefighter

Lakeland --- At approximately 1:10 AM, on Friday, November 8, 2013, the Lakeland Fire Department (LFD) responded to a structure fire at Lake Bentley Shores Condominiums located at 1920 E. Edgewood Drive, Lakeland, FL. The fire effected building L, a two story building that housed eight apartment units.

Upon arrival, Lakeland Firefighters found heavy black smoke showing on both the lower and upper level of building L. Firefighters entered building L, quickly extinguishing the fire and evacuating residents. The fire originated in a back bedroom of unit 7 in building L. The cause of the fire is currently under investigation but investigators believe that it was not intentionally set.

Resident Lamarcus Carter, 58, resident of unit L7 where the fire originated sustained smoke inhalation and was transported to Lakeland Regional Medical Center (LRMC). A relative of Lamarcus and additional resident of Unit L7, Ross Carter, 23, was transported by helicopter to Tampa General Hospital for burns and smoke inhalation. Their current medical conditions are unknown to LFD. Fred Cottonjim, 77, a neighbor of the Carters sustained unknown non-fire related injuries while trying to evacuate and was also transported to LRMC for treatment.

In addition to the three residents injured and transported, Firefighter Alex Sanchez, 32, displayed signs of heat exhaustion as a result of fighting the blaze. He was transported to and treated at LRMC where he was released soon after at approximately 5:00 AM. Sanchez was one of several firefighters that entered the structure to both extinguish the fire and evacuate residents.

The Lakeland Fire Department responded with eight apparatuses and 18 personnel. The scene was cleared by 6:30 AM.

Lakeland --- At approximately 8:15 PM, the Lakeland Fire Department responded to a home fire at 1408 Phyllis Street, Lakeland, FL.  Fire crews breached the front door to find heavy smoke conditions and a bedroom on the east side of the home consumed in flames. Crews extinguished the fire without incident but upon searching the structure for occupants discovered 3 pets; a large dog and two cats.

The home was occupied by siblings Thomas Watkins and Pamela Burton, neither of which were home when the fire began. The fire is believed to have begun after Watkins briefly left the home for a walk. Upon returning Watkins discovered the fire and entered to rescue the aforementioned pets. Mr. Watkins was assessed and air lifted from the scene to Tampa General Hospital for treatment.

Extensive resuscitation attempts were made on all three of the pets by LFD firefighters. One cat was revived after being administered oxygen, however the second cat and the dog perished from their injuries, even after resuscitation attempts by crews which included full intubation and Advanced Life Support treatment. The LFD crews are trained and all of the department’s rescue apparatuses are equipped with specialized equipment designed for pet rescue and resuscitation.

It is important to remind pet owners that however difficult it may be to do, please do not enter a burning structure to save a pet. If a building is on fire or shows signs of fire, like smoke, stay out! Pets are very much loved and seen as members of the family but people should not jeopardize their safety in the event of a fire or other emergency. Responders are specially trained to rescue everyone, including pets. 


LFD’s fire investigator determined that that the fire was started by smoking materials in the affected bedroom and was accidental. The fire caused $25,000 in damage to the home.


8 apparatuses and 24 firefighters responded to the incident.

If any further information is needed contact Janel Vasallo.