Did you know the Lakeland Fire Department has been working to keep us safe for over 100 years? Here’s how the idea for the department sparked — and what’s up next.
The early years
When Lakeland was officially incorporated in 1885, there wasn’t much of a fire department to speak of. By 1891, there were just a few dozen buckets and one ladder used if a fire broke out.
That single ladder proved to be insufficient when three fires razed major commercial properties, prompting Lakeland leaders to purchase the city’s first portable fire engines around 1905. A formal volunteer fire department was formed in 1909, and the city commission upgraded its equipment to include wagons + horses — a step up from those buckets.
A growing city
With a new city-wide alarm system and more fire engines, the fire department became a paid gig as a career fire department. Enduring Great Depression era slow-downs, the number of fire stations grew as populations boomed after World War II. Two new stations had been built before the 1950s began.
The fire department continued to develop, adding more stations and rescue options. Two separate battalions were created in 2004, and Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting was added to the department in 2007.
The department today
The Lakeland Fire Department now has 179 employees and seven stations. LFD responded to 29,000+ emergency calls in its 84 square-mile response area in 2021. A state-of-the-art, five-acre training complex was added last year.
The City of Lakeland’s approved 2022-2023 budget calls for over $26 million for phases 2 and 3 of fire station development, including relocating Station 3. The budget also allows for nine new fire rescue employees across the department.