TAVARES – The Lake County Fire Rescue Division and the Florida Forest Service’s Withlacoochee Forestry Center were recently presented with a national Bronze Smokey Bear Award for their joint efforts in providing outstanding wildfire prevention services.
Awarded by the Cooperative Forest Preventions Program Committee, and sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Advertising Council; this prestigious award recognized the collaboration of both entities in the development and adoption of the Lake County Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
Only one Bronze Smokey Bear Award was presented nationwide in 2012, though a maximum of 10 are given annually, making the distinction even more gratifying.
“The Fire Rescue Division is honored to receive this award,” said John Jolliff, Public Safety Director/Fire Chief for Lake County. “We, as well as our partners, realize that wildfire prevention is critical to the safety of the public, and we have dedicated a great deal of time and resources to the prevention process.”
Earlier this year, drought conditions made areas of the County highly-susceptible to wildfires. In February, unincorporated Lake County was placed under a mandatory burn ban, as 61 percent of the County was above 600 on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI), with 39 percent exceeding 500. The burn ban was rescinded in June when 85 percent of the County was shown to be below 500 on the KBDI.
The Bronze Smokey Bear Award is the highest honor given for wildfire service on the state level, and is reserved for people or organizations that provide sustained, outstanding service in wildfire prevention.
For more information about the national Bronze Smokey Bear Award, visit www.smokeybear.com/awards, or call the Lake County Fire Rescue Division at 352-343-9458.