By Commissioner Cathy Kruse
Happy New Year! This last year brought many changes to the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District and as we move into the first months of a busy 2020, we would be remiss not to recognize our community members and hard-working staff that make serving this District such a privilege.
Providing firefighting and advance life support transport services to the 142 square miles of our fire district kept our personnel busy in 2019. Covering the largest area of any fire department in Lee County, we continue to remain the third busiest with over 12,000 total calls for service in 2019. This includes over 200 brush, structure, and vehicle fires as well as providing emergency medical services at over 9,000 incidents. Averaging 33 incidents per day in 2019, our crews take pride in continuously providing quality service to citizens and visitors.
We will soon be inviting our community to visit our improved fire stations on Joel Blvd and Gunnery Road. As you may recall, Stations 101 and 102 were majorly damaged in 2017 during Hurricane Irma, rendering them uninhabitable for our crews to work from. Station 103 also sustained damage and was in major need of renovation to meet current size limitations, new (NFPA) National Fire Protection Agency requirements, and current building codes.
building codes and safety requirements was a top priority. Recognizing our responsibility to be good stewards of your fire assessment dollars, oversight of the construction projects has also been a top priority of both Fire Chief DiLallo and the Board of Commissioners.
We will also welcome two new fire engines this spring. These engines will be the first in Southwest Florida featuring a clean cab concept, which includes modifications to storage locations to secure contaminated gear and equipment. The modifications help to reduce firefighters’ exposure to potential carcinogens after a fire. These new engines are replacing a 2006 engine with approximately 170,000 miles and a 2007 engine with approximately 155,000 miles. The older engines will now serve as reserve apparatus for repairs or other situations that require their use.
Fire prevention through safety education is also an important focus of the department. Our Life Safety Division is excited to fill 2020 with public education events and presentations. The recent addition of a Public Relations Officer also gave us the opportunity to develop a presence on multiple social media platforms to increase our ability to engage and share information with the community. While social media gives us the ability to share news quickly, our website is also a great resource for safety updates and information on our many programs.
This year will also see the launch of our new youth-oriented Cadet Program. The focus of the program is to teach participants about firefighting and emergency medical services as a profession. In addition to providing young participants with valuable skills, we hope that the program encourages our local youth to consider service professions in their hometown.
2019 was a big year for the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District and we look forward to a safe and successful 2020. We hope for your continued support as we meet our challenges of the future and pursue excellence in service to our fire district. Thank you for trusting us to serve you!
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