Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue is the statutory fire and rescue service provider for the City of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The department was created in 1912 as a volunteer department after a large conflagration destroyed a large portion of what is now the downtown core of Fort Lauderdale. The fire which destroyed all but 3 buildings in the previously bustling downtown business district prompted the city to purchase its first fire equipment consisting of a chemical extinguisher mounted on carriage wheels, and a hand operated pump. Unique to Fort Lauderdale was that the fire department never had horse drawn apparatus. The chemical extinguisher was pulled to fires by an International Harvester truck, and the pump was pulled to the fire scene by the firefighters themselves. The pump also carried 500 feet of fire hose, which at times was not sufficient to reach fires in the city, due to inadequate roads.
The first fire station, the second in Broward County, was built in January 1913 on Andrews Avenue & SW 2nd Street and was part of the first City Hall building. The police station, jail, and all other city offices were also part of this building. Prior to this time, all firefighting equipment was housed at a private citizen’s warehouse. In 1913, the department and its equipment would be put to use at the first major fire since the great fire of 1912, when the Osceola Hotel burned down. After this fire, the department received its first fire truck, consisting of a used car sold to the town.
When Dr. R. S. Lowry was appointed chief in 1914, he divided the town into four districts. When a fire occurred, each district had a unique whistle that was blown to direct the firefighters to the fire’s location.
When Milo Sherman was hired as the first paid fire chief in 1917, he was given the blessing of the city to purchase the first formal piece of fire apparatus. At the time, the department was still using the used automobile as a fire truck, and Chief Sherman then purchased an American LaFrance fire engine. Shortly after buying this first engine, Chief Sherman was able to purchase a Brockway truck for $7,500 which carried hundreds of gallons of water, used to fight the numerous brush fires, which at the time were a threat to the city. Chief Sherman also built the department’s second station with his own money at 700 S Andrews Avenue. He did this because he felt the city needed a fire station on each side of the New River. This fire station still stands today, and operated until it was sold in 1985 to a private citizen, where it is currently used as a law office.
In 1926 Chief Dooley requested the department build its third fire station at 1022 W. Las Olas Blvd at a cost just over $21,000. This west side fire station, later renamed as station 8, would serve the department until 2004, when it would be closed and its crews moved to the new station 2. It currently is being renovated as the Fort Lauderdale Fire Museum Also in 1926 as part of Chief Dooley’s improvements to the fire department was the purchase of the department’s first ladder truck, a 1926 Seagrave Fire Apparatus ladder truck with chemical equipment, at a cost of $9,500. The final improvement Chief Dooley implemented was the installation of a Gamewell fire alarm system with a central monitoring station, and 40 call boxes to be installed at locations throughout the city. By 1932, the number of fire alarm boxes had increased to over 60, and was further increased in 1937 to 71 fire alarm boxes, with 15 more added to the growing city in 1941.
In 1929, the fire department was affected by the Great Depression, resulting in the closing of two of the department’s stations, and the laying-off of firefighters such that only 7 remained with the department. This lack of staffing was partly blamed for the catastrophic fire that occurred at Pilkington Yacht Basin in 1935, and after that fire seven additional firefighters were hired.
On December 7 1940, the fire department experienced its first Line of Duty Death, when Firefighter Robert Knight was killed when he stepped in a puddle contacted by an energized high-voltage wire. Firefighter Knight was killed instantly, and another firefighter was severely injured by the electrical current as well.
In 1948 the department opened its fourth fire station at 2871 E Sunrise Blvd near the beach, later renamed to fire station 13. The fire station was originally staffed with one engine and one ladder. Also in 1948, the department established its first pension plan for retirees.
On November 28 1961, the fire department experienced its second Line of Duty Death when firefighter Norman Hastings suffered a heart attack while training near the fire station. He reportedly collapsed face first into the running board of the pumper after complaining of chest pains. He was 45 years old, and a 13 year veteran of the department.
In 1964, the fire department employed 178 firefighters and had a budget of over 1 million dollars. The department purchased its first fireboat, which would be placed out of service due to corrosion only six months later. Also in this year, the fire department opened two new identical fire stations, at 1121 NW 9th Avenue, and 1000 SW 27th Avenue. These two fire stations would later be renamed to station 46, and station 47 respectively.
In 1969, the fire department answered 1,951 emergency calls, and made over 21,000 fire inspections. Eight people were killed in fires, and over 70 were injured that year, with about half of the injuries belonging to firefighters. The fire department was named the best fire preventing department in its class in the entire State of Florida, after being evaluated on fire inspections, fire education talks, and fire prevention methods used in the hoods of restaurant ranges.
In 1970, the department assisted the Fort Lauderdale Police Department in suppressing riots occurring throughout the city. Firefighters had to combat numerous arson fires as well as assist with crowd control. Numerous bullet holes were later found on fire apparatus, and crews used trash can lids to deflect rocks and bottles thrown at them while responding.
Numerous changes occurred in the department in the 1970’s, with several improving the health & safety of firefighters. On September 20 1970, the city hired its first black firefighter, Bobby Glenn, who later retired after serving the department for over 21 years. The city purchased its first set of MSA SCBA breathing apparatus, replacing old canister masks that were rarely worn. Also, firefighters stopped riding to emergencies on the tailboard of fire apparatus and were contained in cabs of apparatus, protecting them from various hazards including falling off the apparatus. Also, in 1971 International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1545 was created, becoming the city’s first recognized labor union. In 1975 the first firefighter was hired who was also certified as a paramedic. In 1978, the city hired it’s first female firefighters, a group of 5, many who would serve the department for decades. Also in 1979, the department created the Hazardous material team to deal with chemical emergencies, the first created in Broward County.
In 1977, the department began to change the color scheme of its fire apparatus. Keeping with national trends citing a study in improved safety and visibility of fire apparatus, the department began purchasing all new fire apparatus in lime green. In 1987, the department began replacing its fleet with fire apparatus made by E-One, using the new lime color scheme. The department continued using lime green apparatus until 1998, when the last remaining units were shifted to reserve pieces. These apparatus, served as spare fire engines until they were sold at auction in 2005.
In 1985, the department entered into a mutual-aid agreement with 22 other fire-rescue departments in Broward County. The agreement was the first official document that guaranteed responses by other fire departments for assistance to major emergencies in cities. The document also set minimum standards on staffing, and response requirements for mutual aid responses and this mutual aid agreement was paramount in establishing future relationships between fire departments, such as the one that established the Broward County Uniform Station Numbering system.
In 1988, the fire department began using the Incident Command System as part of its operation at emergency scenes. Also part of this change was the use of RIT teams, which would be dispatched along with a second battalion chief to any working fire in the city.
Chief Jim Sparr is credited with creating the department’s first responder system in 1989. Under this system, a Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue unit would respond to any medical emergency in the city under a three-tiered system, with Broward County EMS providing patient care, and private ambulance companies providing patient transport to the local hospitals. Chief Sparr also required firefighters to conduct station repairs and other errands including mowing the lawns of fire stations.
In December 1992, the department formed the Technical Rescue Team to respond to dive rescue, and high-angle emergencies throughout the city. Originally named the SHARC team, for Special Hazards and Rescues Company, the team of 27 members were specially trained to handle unusual rescue emergencies that would occur in the city.
In 1995, under the leadership of Chief Donald Harkins, Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue placed its first advanced life support (ALS) Engine Company in service, and began providing EMS under a two-tiered system with Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue providing patient care, and Broward County Fire Rescue providing transport services to the hospital.
In 1997, the Village of Sea Ranch Lakes contracted with the Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department to provide fire suppression services to the approximately 600 residents of the village. Sea Ranch Lakes was designated as Zone 54C, and had a response of E35, E54, E13, L35, R54, and BC35. In 2001, the contract expired between Sea Ranch Lakes and FLFR, and the village chose to award the new contract to the Broward Sheriff's Office, who were already providing EMS services to the village of Sea Ranch Lakes. No major fire incidents occurred in Sea Ranch Lakes in the four years they were served by Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue.
Also, in 1997, the city hired its first African-American Fire Chief, Otis J. Latin. Chief Latin came to the department after heading the District of Columbia Fire Department, and rising to the rank of assistant chief of the Houston Fire Department.
In 1998, the department transitioned to provide Emergency Medical Services under a single-tier system. This meant that the department would now be the first responder on all medical calls, provide all ALS treatments, and provide all patient transports to local hospitals. This was a large transition for the department, and resulted in the purchasing of 6 new rescue trucks, and the largest hiring class ever of 64 state certified firefighter/paramedics. Several of the Broward County Fire-Rescue employees that had been working in Fort Lauderdale stations were included in this group, with the remainder of Broward County Fire Rescue’s employees and all of its equipment being returned to BCFR.
Also in 1998 was the modernization of the fire department fleet. From 1998-2000, all fire apparatus would be replaced with new Quantum fire apparatus made by Pierce Manufacturing. Also purchased were new rescue units as part of the transition to providing ALS transport services.
On November 21 1999, at 1100 hours Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue began dispatching themselves to emergency incidents. Prior to this time, Broward Sheriff's Office dispatchers were responsible for all dispatch & radio communications for fire department units. Following criticism arising after an extremely long response time to a tragic boat accident in the late 1990s, the department began to establish their own dispatch & communications system.
On December 20 1999, the Wilton Manors Volunteer Fire Department was closed, and Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue began proving both Fire & EMS services to the cities of Wilton Manors and Lazy Lake from fire station 16. Wilton Manors still retained its fire prevention staff who are responsible for all fire prevention & investigation activities in the municipal limits.
In May, 2007, the department underwent a reorganization of its bureaus, divisions, and units. The Communications Coordinator and Communications section were transferred along with Ocean Rescue to the Operations Division of the department. This was done due to the involvement of these two sectors into the overall emergency operations of the department . A third Assistant Chief position was also created who was now responsible for all special projects, recruiting, information technology, human resources, and internal investigations within the department. Assistant Chief Robert Edgar currently holds this position. An updated organization chart can be found here
In October 2007, the department underwent another slight reorganization. Support Services became an entirely civilian group of the fire department, replacing positions previously held by sworn fire officers. Also, four positions from the Fire Prevention Bureau were eliminated as well as one Training Captain Position. No layoffs occurred, but all employees were transferred to Operations Division duties. This move was done for both budget savings reasons, as well as staffing shortages within the Operations Division.
In summer of 2008, the department opened up two new fire stations to replace outdated and outgrown facilities. Station 47 was replaced at its existing location after a three year construction project. Station 88 was closed and combined with a new Station 53 on the north side of the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. The new station 53 also houses the department's training bureau, as well as the city's Emergency Operations Center and Emergency Management Office. Also moved to the new station 53 was Battalion Chief 35 as part of the opening.
Today the department has over 450 personnel and provides fire prevention, fire suppression, fire investigation, rescue, EMS, and ocean rescue services to the people of Fort Lauderdale, & provides contract fire, rescue & EMS services to the citizens of Wilton Manors and Lazy Lake.
Currently, Chief James Eddy heads the department; charged with overseeing and leading the department and its two main divisions, the Administration Division and the Operations Division
|| Years Served |
| C.E. Newland
|| 1912-1914 |
| Dr. R. S. Lowry
|| 1914-1917 |
| Milo Sherman (First Paid Chief)
|| 1917-1923 |
| Frank Stone
|| 1923-1925 |
| Francis A. Dooley
|| 1925-1926 |
| John L. Cody
|| 1926-1929 |
| Clarence King
|| 1929-1935 |
| "Jerry" Jordan R. Carter (Longest Serving Chief)
|| 1935-1966 |
| Monroe T Whidby
|| 1966-1973 |
| Donald Charles Makemson
|| 1973-1974 |
| George Stephen Tillinghas
|| 1975-1978 |
| Frederick Falvey Lane
|| 1978-1987 |
| Acting Chief Ronald Robson
|| 1987 |
| Jim Sparr (First outside chief)
|| 1987-1992 |
| Acting Chief Rick Earle
|| 1992-1993 |
| Donald Harkins
|| 1993-1996 |
| Acting Chief Keith Allen
|| 1996-1997 |
| Otis J. Latin Sr.
|| 1997-2006 |
| Acting Chiefs Stephen McInerny & Jeffrey Justinak
|| 2006 |
| Interim Chief Gerald Simon
|| 2006-2007 |
| James R. Eddy
|| 2007-present |
Historic Fires & Emergencies
- June 2 1912, a large fire destroys the majority of newly incorporated Fort Lauderdale, destroying everything north of the New River up to Wall Street, and everything east & west of Brickell Avenue (now SW 1 Ave). Only three structures remained in the business district after the fire, which burned for over an hour before firefighters from Miami and West Palm Beach arrived to extinguish the blaze. The total loss was over $150,000 in 1912 figures. This major conflagration prompted the formation of the city's first volunteer fire department, and the city purchasing its first pieces of fire equipment.
- July 13 1913, a fire destroys the woodframe Osceola Hotel, and manages to destroy the fire departments only pumper in the process. Luckily there was no wind to spread the blaze to neighboring structures, as had occurred in the 1912 fire.
- September 18 1926, the 1926 Miami Hurricane hits the South Florida region causing catastrophic damage to the city. Firefighters are assigned to search for & collect the bodies of the many killed throughout the city.
- March 3 1932, a fire occurred at Mack's Store on S Andrews Ave and burned out of control for over two hours, prompting the evacuation of nearby businesses and the Tropical Hotel.
- March 6 1932, two simultaneous fires caused the department's resources to be split. A fire in a houseboat was quickly controlled with minimal damage, while a grocery store at Broward Blvd & NW 5th Avenue burned to the ground.
- June 24 1935, the largest fire in the city's history to date occurs at Pilkington Yacht Basin, which would later be renamed to Broward Marine. The fire occurred on board a 150 foot boat, and rapidly spread to consume 77 of the 80 boats that were at the facility. The fire caused over 1 million dollars worth of damage, in 1935 figures, and as a result of the fire, staffing levels within the department are increased.
- 1958, one of only two multiple-alarm fires for the year occurs at the Luau Hut located at 3306 S Federal Hwy, and causes over $45,000 in damage.
- August 13 1962, a thief starts a fire at Mangurian furniture at 3700 N Federal Hwy, in order to cover up his crime. The fire completely destroys the building and causes over $315,000 in damage, and as a result leads to more stringent fire codes to be implemented in the city.
- November 18 1966, a disregarded cigarette left aboard a mega yacht leads to a multiple alarm fire at Broward Marine at 1601 SW 20th Street. The blaze spread to several adjacent yachts causing over 2 million dollars damage, resulting in the one of the several major fires the marine corporation would experience in its long history.
- January 13 1969, a large fire occurred at the Everglades Fertilizer Plant at 2000 W Broward Blvd. Reports indicated colored smoke being produced as a result of the tons of toxic chemicals housed and produced at the plant. The intense fire burned for over three days as more than 100 firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, all the while toxic chemicals were being dispersed around the scene. As a result, of the 100 firefighters that responded to the blaze, over 29 cases of cancer have been found, with 19 deaths due to cancer. As a result of these events, the National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has initiated an epidemiological study of firefighters involved in the Everglades fire.
- May 14 1973, a highrise fire occurs on the 15th floor of the Marine Tower Condominium. The fire resulted in five firefighters being injured.
- October 15 1974, an arsonist sets two buildings on fire at Lincoln Park Elementary School, causing over $250,000 damage to the school. 23 firefighters worked to extinguish the blaze, and two were injured.
- August 7 1980, a high-rise fire occurs at the Ocean Manor Resort Hotel, stranding a girl on the 10th floor just out of reach of the department's aerial ladder truck. A fire department captain carried a 14 foot roof ladder and tied it to the tip of the department's 100 ft aerial ladder, allowing him to save the little girl. 33 residents and 12 firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation from the blaze.
- September 29 1980, a smoldering fire occurred near the printing presses at Fort Lauderdale News resulting in the death of one employee. More than 900 employees were evacuated from the building, and the fire quickly grew to three alarms.
- October 27 1980, a three-alarm fire occurred on the 13th floor of the Venetian Condominium at One Las Olas Circle. The fire resulted in two civilian fatalities, who were killed when they took the elevator back to the fire floor to search for their cat.
- September 5 1986, a three alarm fire fueled by toxic chemicals occurred at a pool supply warehouse at 6822 NW 12th Ave. Several firefighters suffered chemical burns in the blaze, and environmental clean-up crews had to be called in to contain and control the run-off from the blaze.
- January 7 1989, a grease fire occurred on the fourth floor of the Points of America II high-rise condominium building at 2200 S Ocean Lane, on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The multiple alarm fire was complicated in a delay of the fire department receiving the alarm, and rapidly spread through the unsprinklered building. The fire caused more than 2 million dollars damage to the building, and caused over 150 residents to be evacuated.
- June 27 1990, a three-alarm fire occurred at the Florida Ordinance Corp, located at 4750 NW 15 Ave, which manufactured tank parts for the US Military. A second alarm was requested shortly after arrival, with the third alarm thirty minutes later. The fire resulted in a large fire loss, and was fueled by multiple hazardous chemicals used in the manufacturing process of the military parts. Two firefighters were injured in fighting the blaze.
- August 2 1991, a four-alarm fire occurred at 4800 NW 15 Ave, at Southern Electronics warehouse causing over 1 million dollars in damage to the 100,000 square foot structure. Due to the large amounts of plastics inside the structure, large quantities of toxic smoke was produced in the fire. One firefighter was sent to the hospital for a back injury.
- May 7 1992, a multiple alarm fire required over 85 firefighters to control the blaze which destroyed five buildings belonging to Faith Farm Ministries and caused over 1.3 million dollars in damage.
- October 17 1992, a two-alarm fire caused over 1.3 million dollars in damage to a popular bar at 5600 N. Federal Highway, known as the Pierce Street Annex Saloon and Grill. The two alarm fire burned for hours as crews had to evacuate the structure due to a roof collapse. The cause of the fire was ultimately determined to be electrical in nature, starting in the attic of the structure.
- March 17 1993, Engine 88 was the first unit to arrive at the deadliest fire in the city's history at NW 62nd St & the CSX Railroad tracks, just west of Andrews Avenue. An Amtrak passenger train collided with a loaded Hess gasoline that was on the tracks. The truck was unable to move due to heavy rush hour traffic. The collision and fire killed the truck driver and as well as five motorists that were stopped at the crossing. No serious injuries occurred to any people on the train. Firefighters from Oakland Park, Pompano Beach, and Broward County Fire-Rescue assisted with combating the intense gasoline fueled blaze. This incident single-handedly made 1993 the deadliest year in fire deaths in the city's history, as the tanker crash jumped the city's total to 9 fire fatalities in a single year.
- July 23 1994, a three-alarm fire occurred at Stranahan High School, at 1800 SW 5th Place, in the Southern area of the city in a section of the school that was undergoing renovations for asbestos removal. Vinyl tarps being used by asbestos crews fueled the spread of the fire, and hampered firefighting efforts resulting in 10 classrooms being damaged by fire. Fire crews from Plantation, Sunrise, Oakland Park, and Lauderhill assisted in fighting the blaze, which required a total of 16 Engine companies, 7 ladder companies, and 8 support trucks.
- September 5 1996 the Broward Marine Fire occurred in the heart of Fort Lauderdale, resulting in a second alarm being transmitted before any unit had even arrived. The six-alarm fire consumed a large yacht manufacturing & storage facility, along with several neighboring buildings, for a total fire loss exceeding 15 million dollars, making it one of the largest fires in the city's history. In addition, the fire presented a large exposure problem, as embers from the main fire building began to spread through the air and ignite nearby trees, vehicles, and structures. The fire was ruled accidental due to a faulty electrical system. The United States Fire Administration conducted a thorough investigation of the fire, and published this report
- November 24 1997, the Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue department responded to the deadliest boating accident in the city's history in the Intracoastal Waterway just south of Sunrise Blvd. The accident occurred when an intoxicated subject driving a 44 ft speedboat crashed into a 31 ft cabin cruiser. The speed boat driver, and 5 occupants of the cabin cruiser were killed, with three victims found trapped in the cabin cruiser under water. The incident generated criticism to the Broward County Fire-Rescue Dispatch operation, as it took nearly 8 minutes for fire crews to reach the scene.
- May 23 1998, Engine 29 is first to arrive on a three-alarm fire at a warehouse north of Sunrise Blvd at the railroad tracks. Crews worked for hours in the defensive fire, and managed to control the fire to where it caused only minimal damage to neighboring structures. .
- August 14 2000 a historic vehicle extrication and technical rescue took place on Interstate 595. 83 year old Tillie Tooter was rescued after surviving three days in the Florida summer heat when her car crashed over the sidewall of I-595, and plummeted 40 feet to land and be held up by the tree tops of a local swamp. Crews had to rappel down and lower extrication equipment to rescue the woman, who was in remarkable condition, and had no major injuries. Her accident had been initially reported the evening on which it occurred, but due to the vehicle's location 40 feet below the roadway, neither FLFR crews, nor Florida Highway Patrol units ever located the accident until three days later.
- February 8 2001, a four-alarm fire occurred at an art framing warehouse structure at 1336 McNab Road, on the city's northernmost border, and units from Pompano Beach assisted in fighting the blaze. The fire resulted in more than 2 million dollars damage, and two firefighters were treated for minor injuries.
- April 25 2004 a four-alarm fire occurred inside the Newfoundland Explorer, a 157 foot research yacht at the 1900 block of SE 17th Street, being docked just south of the 17th Street Causeway Bridge. The fire had started in the engine room. Ten firefighters nearly perished after the fire suddenly came up through a stairway & trapped the firefighters in the cabin hallway. The conditions became so extreme that several Mayday calls were made over the radio by several of the firefighters. The firefighters had to fight the flames back twice which was almost at floor level & extremely close to becoming a flashover. All 10 were able to finally evacuate the vessel. The fire then became a defensive operation lasting for several hours. At approximately 4am the next morning, the fire rekindled and was initially combated by Fireboat 49. Soon after, a 2 alarm fire response was iniitated and lasted several hours. The estimated loss was in excess of 3 million dollars.
- June 13 2005 a DC-3 cargo aircraft, tail number N3906J, crashed in the middle of a residential neighborhood on the 1600 block of NE 56th Street shortly after taking off from Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. No serious injuries occurred, and all passengers & crew of the plane escaped before the conflagration resulted. However, unsolicited assistance by the Broward Sheriff's Office resulted in the foam blanket surrounding the aircraft to be broken. This resulted in a flash fire of the fuel vapors, causing severe fire damage to ARFF Truck 53 which was operating at the scene & 3 firefighters to be engulfed in the invisible flames for a short period of time luckily resulting in no injuries.
- On August 26 2005 a three-alarm fire occurred at Lauderdale Storage, 540 SW 27 Ave, shortly after Hurricane Katrina passed over Florida. The fire started in the afternoon after a downed utility wire ignited an adjacent roofing storage shed housing tar and propane cylinders. The attached shed then ignited the public storage facility resulting in a several hour defensive fire operation with a loss exceeding 5 million dollars, making the Lauderdale Storage Fire one of the costliest in the entire city's history. For a short video of the incident click here
- On March 10 2008 the department responded to what became a 5-alarm fire at 1800 SW 1st Ave, requiring the assistance of several neighboring agencies. The fire was in an apartment on the 4th floor of a public housing building filled with elderly residents. Two firefighters were injured in the blaze, and many residents had to be rescued from their apartments, 13 civilians were transported to local hospitals. The cause of the fire is still under investigation
Major Responses Outside the City
Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue routinely provides assistance to cities in Broward County
through mutual aid and automatic aid service agreements. Throughout the history of the department, Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue units have also responded to several major emergencies outside the city limits as part of these mutual and automatic aid agreements.
- May 16 1954, an explosion and fire rocks the Trumball Asphalt plant located inside Port Everglades. The blast could be felt by residents miles away, and completely destroyed several of the concrete pillars at the plant. Firefighters from Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale Fire Department worked for over 45 minutes to control the blaze.
- April 16 1962, a fire occurred on the 470 foot freighter Andrea Gritti docked at Port Everglades. Fort Lauderdale firefighters were on scene for two days assisting Port Everglades Fire Department as they struggled to extinguish the fire.
- June 27 1988, a three-alarm fire occurred at GLS Fiberglass, 940 Eller Drive inside Port Everglades and consumed a warehouse stocked with hundreds of tons of hazardous chemicals. The inferno sent five firefighters to the hospital, and required the assistance of several fire departments and hazardous materials teams. The blaze was the largest chemical fire ever to occur in the county, consuming the entire 800,000 square foot structure, and requiring the assistance of six fire departments. Several nearby occupancies were evacuated due to hazardous chemicals and risk of further explosions, and air traffic at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport was rerouted. This fire eventually lead to the creation of the Broward County Uniform Station Numbering system.
- October 11 1988, Fort Lauderdale Fire Department joined four other agencies in assisting Davie Fire Department with a large marina fire at 3051 State Road 84 that consumed several yachts. The blaze burned for several hours, and caused over 2.5 million dollars in damage.
- December 14 1991, a four alarm fire occurred in 17th floor penthouse of the Fountainhead Condominium in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea directly across the street from the city boundary at 3900 N Ocean Drive. Over 150 occupants were evacuated, and several firefighters were injured in fighting the blaze, including one Fort Lauderdale Fire Department Lieutenant who suffered a broken elbow.
- May 7 1992 Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue responded to assist firefighters from Port Everglades with a fire onboard the 513 foot day-cruise ship Discovery forcing the evacuation of over 100 passengers & crew members.
- September 6 1996, a day after the catastrophic Broward Marine Fire, FLFR responded as mutual aid to a multiple alarm fire that consumed the Plantation Towne Mall at 6900 W Broward Blvd in Plantation, FL. Over 120 firefighters from multiple departments worked to fight the blaze that totally destroyed the entire building.
- December 18 1997, a fire spread rapidly through the attic of the Kings Park Condominium complex in Oakland Park destroying all 50 units inside building B. The fire was allowed to spread so rapidly due to a lack of sprinkler system, and water supply issues throughout the blaze.
- June and July, 1998. Several firefighters from Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue were deployed as part of a regional task-force to assist with the large firestorms that were occurring in Northern Florida due to an unusually dry summer.
- September 18 1999, a two alarm fire occurred at Uniweld Inc. on State Rd 84, and was one of the most dangerous in recent history as the building was full of acetylene, oxygen, and propane cylinders. The fire quickly became a defensive operation, and local areas were evacuated as over 20,000 cylinders ruptured and were launched into the sky during the blaze. Crews from Fort Lauderdale assisted those from Dania Beach & Broward County
- September 11 2001, six members of Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue were deployed to New York City in response to the terrorist attacks as members of FEMA South Florida Urban Search & Rescue Florida Task Force 2 (FL-TF2). These firefighters assisted with the search & rescue operations occurring at Ground Zero.
- August 9-14, 2004, Hurricane Charley impacted the Gulf Coast of Florida, causing major damage. Several members of Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue, and several pieces of fire apparatus were sent as part of a regional task force to provide disaster assistance, and fire suppression coverage to the storm damaged area.
- August 28 2005, Members from Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue were deployed to assist as part of the FEMA task force to assist with disaster search & rescue operations in Mississippi and Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina
- March 3 2006, Fort Lauderdale Engine 88 was dispatched to a reported fire near the city's northernmost boundary. The fire was ultimately in the City of Pompano Beach at 1000 SW 12 Ave, and Fort Lauderdale had a full first alarm assignment, plus an additional engine and rescue respond to the fire as mutual aid. The fire involved a wooden pallet manufacturing & storage facility, and ultimately grew to 5 alarms bringing in many other mutual aid resources & departments, and was responsible for over 15 million dollars in damage. Photos of the scene can be found here
- May 11 2007, Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue participated as part of a regional strike team to assist with the state's battling of over 200 wildfires. FLFR sent one engine with four crew members as part of the strike team, and were deployed for 8 days to the Lake City area of the state.
Local 765 Firefighters of the Year
|| Personnel |
|| Gregory Snyder |
|| Thomas Connor |
|| Jeremy Rifflard |
|| John Bruce |
|| Richard Thorpe |
|| Keith Garner |
|| Kenneth Gurdak and Robert Soto |
|| Rodney Peeler, Joe Hernandez, John Dunn, Jeremy Rifflard and Mike Ragusa |
|| Joseph Battaglia |
|| Jim Sharp |
|| Robert Hoecherl |
|| Donald Jobin |
|| Joseph Battaglia |
|| Carl Dale and Matt Adams |
|| David Pugh |
|| Ann Lindie |
|| Joe Dwyer and Ed Bartusch |
|| Brian Fort |
|| Al Dow |
|| Robert Edgar |
|| Henry Sledge |
|| Mike Ondrejicka |
|| Charlie Barnes and Rodney Coleman |
|| Dave Terrana |
|| Alan Summersgill |
|| Richard Ferschke |
|| Herbie Blabon |
|| Alexander Halverson and Al Morese |
|| Errol Lanier |
|| George Goldey |
|| Dave Elenbaas |
|| Chuck Pendleton |
|| Jim Culp, Bruce Whalley and Rodney Thomas |
|| Ed Remer |
|| Robert Zaborski |
|| Leslie "Fuzzy" Larkin and Royce Mosely |
The Operations Division is led by an Assistant Chief of Operations, Stephen McInerny, and is responsible for providing 911 Emergency responses to fire, rescue, and medical emergencies to all citizens of the City of Fort Lauderdale, and to the cities of Wilton Manors & Lazy Lake through service contracts. The department also has an automatic aid agreement with neighboring Oakland Park, so that each department will receive the best level of service in neighboring response areas. The Division is divided into three shifts (A, B, and C), which work a 24 hour on/48 hour off shift schedule to staff the city's twelve stations. These eleven stations, which follow the Broward County Uniform Station Numbering system, are broken into three battalions with each led by a Battalion Chief. One Division Chief is assigned to each shift and responsible for the daily operations of the shift & entire city.
In addition to fire suppression, the operations division provides special operations from three stations in the city. The city responds to Technical rescue, Hazardous Material, and aircraft emergencies (ARFF) at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport from stations 49, and 53 respectively. Personnel at these stations must receive hundreds of hours of additional training beyond what is normally required of firefighters and paramedics. Each shift there are eight TRT members staffing Engine 49, Rescue 49, and Ladder 13 all of which are trained in rope rescue, dive rescue, confined space, and collapse rescue situations. The seven members comprising Engine 88, Support 88, and Rescue 53 are all trained Haz-Mat technicians and respond in the event of any hazardous materials emergency. The crew of Truck 53 is specially trained in aircraft rescue and firefighting, and is staffed with a minimum of one driver/engineer and one lieutenant.
The city also is one of several in South Florida that provides a SWAT medic program. The Fire-Rescue Department has a partnership with the Fort Lauderdale Police Department that has several fire department paramedics trained in tactical police operations. These paramedics rotate an on-call status and respond with the department’s SWAT team to all incidents such as barricaded subjects, high-risk warrants, and active shooter situations. By utilizing tactical medics among the team, it allows team members and other subjects to receive critical medical treatments as soon as possible during situations in which the victims would otherwise have to wait for treatment in a secured environment.
Minimum staffing for units in the city is as follows, with any extra personnel on duty being distributed to various units. All engine companies must have at least one crew member trained as a paramedic & one EMT to provide ALS services.
- Engine Companies—1 Officer, 1 Driver/Engineer, 1 Firefighter (2 FF on Engine 88)
- Ladder Companies—1 Officer, 1 Driver/Engineer, 1 Firefighter
- Rescue Companies—2 Firefighter/Paramedics
- Haz-Mat 88—cross staffed with Engine 88’s crew
- Support 88—1 Driver/Engineer
- Truck 53—1 Officer, 1 Driver/Engineer
- Command Officers—1 command officer (EMS Captain, Battalion Chief, Division Chief)
- Fireboat 49—cross staffed with Engine & Rescue 49’s crew
|| Units |
|| 528 NW 2nd St
|| Engine 2, Engine 8, Ladder 2, Rescue 2, Rescue 8, Battalion 2, EMS 29, Division 2 |
|| 2801 SW 4th Ave
|| Engine 3, Rescue 3 |
|| 1121 NW 9th Ave
|| Engine 46, Rescue 46, Rescue 246 |
|| 1000 SW 27th Ave
|| Engine 47, Rescue 47, Rescue 247 |
|| Units |
|| 2871 E Sunrise Blvd
|| Engine 13, Ladder 13, Rescue 13, Battalion 13 |
|| 2002 NE 16th St
|| Engine 29 |
|| 1015 Seabreeze Blvd
|| Engine 49, Rescue 49, Fireboat 49 |
|| 3200 NE 32nd St
|| Engine 54, Rescue 54 |
|| Units |
|| 533 NE 22nd St (Wilton Manors)
|| Engine 16, Rescue 16 |
|| 1841 E Commercial Blvd
|| Engine 35, Ladder 35, Rescue 35 |
|| 2200 Executive Airport Way
|| Truck 53, Rescue 53, Engine 88, Support 88, Haz-Mat 88, Battalion 35 |
The Department uses the following response matrix to respond to emergencies throughout the city. Chief Officers may add or subtract units from the assignment as necessary
| Incident Type
|| Units Dispatched |
| Medical Emergency
|| 1 Engine, 1 Rescue |
| Elevator Extrication
|| 1 Engine or Ladder |
| Wires Down
|| 1 Engine or Ladder |
| Vehicle Fire
|| 1 Engine or Ladder |
| Trash Fire
|| 1 Engine or Ladder |
| Brush Fire
|| 1 Engine or Ladder |
| Commercial Fire Alarm
|| 2 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Battalion Chief |
| Residential Fire Alarm
|| 1 Engine, 1 Ladder, 1 Battalion Chief |
| Structure Fire
|| 3 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Rescue, 2 Battalion Chiefs, EMS Supervisor |
| Working Fire (upgrade)
|| 1 Ladder (RIT), Support 88, Fire Investigator |
| 2nd Alarm Fire
|| 2 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Rescue, Division 2 |
| 3rd Alarm Fire
|| 2 Engines, 2 Rescues |
| 4th Alarm Fire
|| 2 Engines, 2 Rescues |
| Alert 1/Alert 2 (FXE Airport)
|| Truck 53, 1 Engine, 1 Rescue, 1 Battalion Chief |
| Alert 3 (Aircraft down)
|| Truck 53, 2 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Rescue, 1 Battalion Chief, EMS 29 |
| Vehicle Accident w/ injuries
|| 1 Engine, 1 Rescue |
| Vehicle Accident w/ Entrapment
|| 2 Engines, 1 Rescue, 1 Battalion Chief, EMS 29 |
| Vehicle Accident / Rollover
|| 2 Engines, 1 Ladder, 1 Rescue, 1 Battalion Chief, EMS 29 |
| Technical Rescue / Dive Rescue
|| Engine 49, Rescue 49, Ladder 13, 1 Engine, 1 Rescue, 1 Battalion Chief, EMS 29 |
| Hazardous Materials Incident
|| Haz-Mat 88, Support 88, Rescue 53, 1 Engine, 1 Ladder, 1 Rescue, 1 Battalion Chief, EMS 29 |
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Statistics for the year 2007
- 41,713 Total emergency incidents
- 693 Fire or explosions
- 27,713 EMS/Rescue
- 826 Hazardous Condition
- 1,699 Service Call
- 6,912 Good Intent
- 3,804 False Alarm
- 52 Special Incident
- 14 Blank classification
The Following is a summary of the number of runs each unit went on in calendar year 2008.
|| Responses |
| Engine 2
|| 4,048 |
| Engine 3
|| 2,762 |
| Engine 8
|| 3,834 |
| Engine 13
|| 2,045 |
| Engine 16
|| 2,558 |
| Engine 29
|| 2,447 |
| Engine 35
|| 2,557 |
| Engine 46
|| 4,533 |
| Engine 47
|| 3,108 |
| Engine 49
|| 2,000 |
| Engine 54
|| 2,096 |
| Engine 88
|| 1,974 |
|| Responses |
| Rescue 2
|| 3,964 |
| Rescue 3
|| 2,614 |
| Rescue 8
|| 3,590 |
| Rescue 13
|| 2,355 |
| Rescue 16
|| 2,613 |
| Rescue 35
|| 2,536 |
| Rescue 46
|| 3,772 |
| Rescue 246
|| 3,509 |
| Rescue 47
|| 2,201 |
| Rescue 247
|| 2,176 |
| Rescue 49
|| 1,778 |
| Rescue 53
|| 1,683 |
| Rescue 54
|| 2,252 |
Ladders & Special Units
|| Responses |
| Ladder 2
|| 2,182 |
| Ladder 13
|| 1,356 |
| Ladder 35
|| 1,529 |
| Fireboat 49
|| 1,161 |
| ARFF Truck 53
|| 89 |
| Support 88
|| 69 |
| Haz-Mat 88
|| 107 |
Chief Officers & Fire Investigators
|| Responses |
| Battalion 2
|| 1,534 |
| Battalion 13
|| 1,378 |
| Battalion 35
|| 1,015 |
| EMS 29
|| 1,236 |
| Division 2
|| 143 |
| Investigator 3402
|| 75 |
| Investigator 4102
|| 36 |
| Investigator 6302
|| 63 |
| Investigator 6502
|| 39 |
| Investigator 6702
|| 46 |
The Communications Center, located at the Fort Lauderdale Police Headquarters (also where FLPD Communications is located) is responsible for dispatching all fire & EMS units within the department over the Fort Lauderdale site of Broward County trunked radio system
, as well as sending administrative and call out pages. Call taking services are handled by Fort Lauderdale Police Dispatchers, who create the call for service upon determination of a fire, rescue, or medical emergency. If further telephone medical assistance is needed with the caller until the fire units' arrival, the calltaker will transfer the call to the fire department dispatchers. The Dispatch center is staffed with a minimum of two trained dispatchers at all times, so that one may monitor the main dispatch channel (1A Fire Dispatch) and the second dispatcher is available to handle major incidents on the departments main tactical channel (1B Fire Tac-B), as well as make 911 call-backs, and handle non emergency calls.
The Dispatch center uses high-tech resources such as Global Positioning System (GPS) Advanced Vehicle Locator (AVL) to dispatch the closest units to emergency incidents. In addition, a Computer Automated Dispatch (CAD} system automatically selects the appropriate available units to be dispatched to any emergency within the city. This technology allows the dispatcher to select the closest unit to any response within the city, to within a distance of several feet, as well as guide emergency responders to incident locations. In 2005 the excellent dispatchers employed by Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue dispatched units to 43,832 incidents, and handled many other requests for service.
The 911 Process
In Broward County, all 911 emergency calls are routed to the closest of nine primary Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs). These nine locations at the Broward Sheriff's Office
(BSO) Public Safety Building, Fort Lauderdale
Police Department, Hollywood
Police Department, Pompano Beach
Police Station, Coral Springs
Police Department, Sunrise
Police Department, Plantation
Police Department, Coconut Creek
Police Department, and Margate
Police Department each receive 911 calls based upon the physical location of the caller. In the case of cell phone 911 callers, this means that the call is routed to the closest PSAP based on the cell phone tower being used, which can often cause 911 calls to be received by the PSAP that is not responsible for dispatching responding units to that emergency.
Each PSAP is staffed with trained 911 call takers, who first determine the whether the caller is in need of Fire, Police, or EMS services, and then determines the location of the emergency. All PSAPs are staffed with trained Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMDs) who are trained to provide CPR and other first aid instructions over the phone to 911 callers in case of emergency. Once the 911 call taker determines if a fire or medical emergency exists, the information is entered, and then routed to the appropriate fire department dispatch agency. In the City of Fort Lauderdale, all 911 calls are received at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department by BSO 911 call takers. Once the call takers enter the information into the computer they send the information to Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Communications, who then sends the appropriate units based on the type and severity of the emergency. Often, 911 calls that originate from cell phones are received by the Broward Sheriff's Office, PSAP due to its close proximity to the city, and the calls are then transferred to the Fort Lauderdale Communications Center once the location of the emergency has been determined.
Ocean Rescue is led by a civilian Ocean Rescue Captain and is composed of over 40 civilian lifeguards with specialty training in ocean tactics and procedures. They are responsible for staffing the city’s lifeguard stands located throughout Fort Lauderdale Beach, and also have floating lifeguard positions moving throughout the beach to respond and assist with any emergencies. Their headquarters is located at the International Swimming Hall of Fame, just south of Las Olas Blvd on A1A. The Captain of Ocean Rescue reports to the Assistant Chief of Operations, with himself, Battalion 13 and Division 2 handling all operational issues beyond normal day-to-day functions.
The Administration Division is headed by Assistant Chief Jeff Justinak, and is divided into two main Bureaus: The Fire Prevention Bureau, and the EMS, Training & Special Operations Bureau
Fire Prevention Bureau
The Fire Prevention Bureau is headed by a Division Chief and is responsible for all fire plans review, fire inspection, and fire investigation duties for the City of Fort Lauderdale. The personnel within this bureau are responsible for conducting annual fire inspections in all non 1&2 family dwellings throughout the city, and also conduct specialty tests on fire protection systems such as building standpipe and sprinkler systems. They enforce the 2004 edition of the Florida Fire Prevention Code (NFPA 1 and NFPA 101), and applicable Broward County Amendments, in addition to the South Florida Building Code. In addition, these fire inspectors also stand-by at special events such as pyrotechnic displays, or large assembly events.
Fire Investigation Unit
The department's Fire Investigation Unit, headed by a Captain, is also located in the Fire Prevention Bureau. The five fire investigators assigned to this unit rotate for an on-call status of one week. If the on-call fire investigator is already busy at another fire scene, the previous week's investigator will respond. These investigators are responsible for all origin & cause investigations of fires throughout the city, and each investigator meets the requirements under NFPA 1033 Professional Qualifications for Fire Investigator,
and is also a National Association of Fire Investigators
(NAFI) Certified Fire & Explosion Investigator (CFEI). They conduct fire origin & cause investigations following the guidelines established in NFPA 921: Guide for Fire and Explosion Investigations.
The five investigators attend many seminars and continuing education classes to stay updated with the latest investigative techniques, and hold memberships in professional organizations such as the International Association of Arson Investigators
, the National Association of Fire Investigators
, and the Florida Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention (FACAP). In addition, these investigators have given many sworn depositions and testified as expert witnesses in court for their expertise on the origin & cause of fires.
When fire causes are determined to be incendiary, the FIU fire investigator will request an arson detective from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department to assist in the investigation process. An investigation team concept is developed whereby the investigative process becomes an origin-and-cause and a criminal investigation. FIU investigators enjoy a solid working relationship with Fort Lauderdale Police arson detectives, who maintain open communication and share information to close an investigation in a timely manner. FLPD detectives routinely train with FIU investigators and often attend common fire investigation seminars, further strengthening the relationship between the two departments.
In addition, the unit has close working relationships with the Florida State Fire Marshal's Office Bureau of Fire/Arson Investigations, and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and may request upon the resources of these agencies when necessary for specialized resources such as accelerant detection canines, heavy front-end loader equipment, or additional investigative staffing for major fire scene investigations.
Explorer Post 713
Also within the Fire Prevention Bureau is the department’s Explorer Program, Post 713. Fire Service Exploring is a worksite-based program that helps youth gain insight into a variety of programs that offer career activities in the fire-rescue service. For youth who are interested in careers in the field of fire-rescue service, the program offers experiential learning with plenty of fun-filled, hands-on activities that promote the growth and development of adolescent youth. City of Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Explorer Post 713 meets twice a month to encounter training, duties and experiences similar to those of actual firefighters. A typical meeting would consist of a business meeting, training activities and planning community service projects. Explorers are instructed in the areas of fire suppression, fire prevention and community education, with the necessary hands-on training to be eligible to participate in the Ride Along Program, where they put their skills to work. In addition, the program often trains for regional explorer competitions, which test the fire-rescue skills and abilities of these youth. Historically the post has done well in these competitions winning many events, and placing highly overall. Their numerous trophies are on display at Fire Station 2.
Support Services Bureau
The Support Services Bureau reports to the Assistant Fire Marshal, and is responsible for satisfying the logistical requirements of a large agency such as Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue. They supply the fire stations with all necessary station supplies & tools, supply the trucks with equipment, and the firefighters with personal protective gear and uniforms. Support Services is also tasked with maintaining and repairing all damaged equipment of the department. The Support Services Bureau also is responsible for providing all logistical needs to the department in large scale emergencies, natural disasters, hurricane preparedness supplies, and the annual Air & Sea Show.
Emergency Medical Services, Training & Special Operations Bureau
The EMS, Training & Special Operations Bureau is led by a Division Chief and is tasked with overseeing the Emergency Medical Services operations of the cities 12 ALS Engine Companies, and 13 ALS rescue companies. They are responsible for training all Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics within the department, assuring the highest quality of medical treatment is provided to patients under the South Florida Regional EMS Protocols. In addition, the bureau commonly reviews EMS reports as part of the departments quality assurance program. The Bureau also provides continuing education to all of the department’s EMTs and paramedics. In addition to emergency response duties, the EMS Bureau is responsible for coordinating EMS detail units at special events such as concerts, sporting events, and the city’s annual Air & Sea Show. The Training & Special Operations, and Ocean Rescue leaders report to the EMS Division Chief.
The Training & Special Operations section of the bureau is led by a Battalion Chief and is responsible for developing weekly, monthly, and annual training drills for the fire department on fire, rescue, and EMS operations. The Bureau maintains logs of all personnel’s training records and CEU’s. The Training Bureau is responsible for conducting introductory training for all newly-hired firefighters, and also for maintaining and updating all department training manuals and SOPs. The Bureau is also responsible for scheduling training and testing for the department’s special operations units, the Technical Rescue Team, and the Hazardous Material Team. The Training Bureau conducts annual physicals and re-certification training as required under State & Federal guidelines.
Office of Financial Management
The Office of Financial Management is responsible for developing the department’s annual budget, as well as handling all accounts payable and receivable. They are responsible for billing for EMS services, and for fire inspection fees. In addition, this office is tasked with all record keeping for fire & EMS reports for emergency incidents within the city. The office develops statistics based on these records that enable analysis for trends, and improvement within the department. This office reports directly to Assistant Chief Edgar.
Domestic Preparedness & Emergency Management Bureau
The Domestic Preparedness and Emergency Management Bureau (DPEMB) reports directly to the Fire Chief and ensures that the City of Fort Lauderdale is prepared to respond to, mitigate the potential impact of and recover from terrorist attacks, mass casualty incidents, natural disasters and other major emergencies. The Bureau’s primary role is to develop and implement comprehensive disaster response, recovery, mitigation, risk reduction, preparedness and prevention activities within the City according to Florida statutes and in cooperation with the Broward County Emergency Management Agency. The City of Fort Lauderdale’s DPEMB developed out of a nationwide effort to improve disaster response capabilities for weapons of mass destruction (WMD), terrorist, man-made or natural disaster incidents. As one of the 120 most populous cities in the United States, Fort Lauderdale has been designated as a recipient of two federally supported domestic preparedness programs to improve the City’s overall emergency management program.
Photos & Videos
- Main list: List of basic fire fighting topics''