For immediate release - Oct. 26, 2004
TAVARES — The largest graduating class of future Lake County firefighters was honored at a ceremony Friday, Oct. 22, along with four firefighters who were promoted to lieutenant.
The addition of new firefighters and lieutenants are part of the concerted effort by the Lake County Department of Public Safety to maintain and enhance fire rescue services as the County experiences rapid growth. The Fire Rescue Division’s “level of service standard” provides an average five-minute urban response and an average 10-minute rural response, as well as a minimum staffing level of two firefighters per engine-company and three firefighters per ladder-company.
All 20 graduates are dual certified as either firefighter/EMT or firefighter/paramedic.
The three-week orientation at the Lake Technical Center Public Safety Center, Kenneth A. Bragg Campus, instructed candidates about the practices and protocol of Lake County Fire Rescue. It can take some time to adjust to the demanding job, according to Gary E. Kaiser, Department of Public Safety Director and Chief Fire Administrator for Lake County.
“In this profession, there are tough times and a lot of humor to help you along…some things that will stay with you forever,” Kaiser said to the graduates. “It’s a great career. You’re getting the opportunity to join an outfit that’s going places,” he added. “The future holds excitement, growth, expansion and a first response system with municipalities — a whole new way of doing business.”
Promoted to lieutenant were firefighters Tony Cuellar, Earl Harris, Jeremy Hendrix and Roger Minger. All four lieutenants bring a wealth of experience to Lake County Fire Rescue. Cuellar, Harris and Hendrix all began their careers serving as volunteers. Each was hired on full time in 1999. Minger has 20 years of previous fire-fighting experience at Palatka and Alachua County fire rescues.
The graduation was capped with the badge-pinning ceremony where family members participated in the presentation of the new badges.
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