Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater honored thewinners of the 2017 Fire Service Awards during a reception hosted Monday evening at the Florida Capitol. The annual award ceremony honors those in the fire service community who have shown excellence in their profession. Award winners were also recognized by Governor Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Commissioner Adam Putnam, and CFO Jeff Atwater during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.
“These award winners are men and women who exemplify what it means to be a leader, and I am proud to celebrate their professional success,” said CFO and State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater. “These individuals, along with all firefighters and first responders across Florida, willingly risk their own lives every day and often run into dangerous situations when others are running out. Their dedication makes each of them a hero in my eyes.”
Professional Fire Firefighter of the Year:
Keith Tyson, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (Retired)
Firefighter Tyson started his career in 1974 with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, working as a Paramedic/Firefighter, and he has since served as an air-rescue flight medic and driver-engineer for FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue team during missions to Turkey, Africa and in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. After 34 years as a Paramedic/Firefighter, Keith Tyson retired from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue in 2008 and was diagnosed with cancer within six months.
In 2009, Keith Tyson formed FCSN’s Florida Chapter, and he continues to serve as FCSN’s Florida State Director. He has delivered FCSN’s cancer-prevention training to thousands of firefighters in Florida and across the United States, and he is FCSN’s liaison to the University of Miami Firefighter Cancer Initiative. Currently, Keith Tyson serves on the FCSN Board of Directors as Vice-President of Education, Research and Outreach.
Through diplomacy, perseverance and determination, Keith Tyson works tirelessly to provide educational support to all Florida firefighters in the fight against the ravages of cancer.
Fire Investigator of the Year:
Detective Brock Dietz, Florida State Fire Marshal
Detective Dietz has worked more than 300 fire investigations and analyzed nearly 700 audio/video submissions during his years as an arson investigator. As a direct result of his unique forensic capabilities, his expert testimony has aided in the successful prosecution of 10 separate arson cases. Additionally, his sharp investigative skills are frequently requested by partner law enforcement agencies, and his work with them led to eight felony arrests during 2016.
His extensive expertise also extends into the classroom. Detective Dietz works with law enforcement agencies across Florida to provide case consultations, offer guest lectures and give case study presentations.
Fire Inspector of the Year:
Jackie de la Osa, North Collier Fire District
Inspector de la Osa has been hailed by her colleagues as one of the most influential members of the Florida fire service community. She has displayed her dedication to the safety of her community by not only enforcing fire and building codes, but also by teaching her counterparts the importance that the codes play in a community’s level of safety. Her commitment has created better-informed, safer community.
Her commitment, expertise and service-driven work ethic are essential to the success of her community’s fire prevention efforts. As a result of her work, she is protecting the residents of Collier County from the dangers of fire, and the lives of firefighters and other first responders as well.
Fire Chief of the Year:
Chief Darrel Donatto, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue
For more than 30 years, Chief Donatto has served the Palm Beach County Fire Rescue with distinction. During that time, he’s served in several capacities, proving his expertise and dedication invaluable. Aside from his duties as Fire Chief, he has served his community as the Fire Based Administrative Representative on the State EMS Advisory Council, the Florida Fire Chiefs Association’s FFCA Secretary/Treasurer, former President of the Fire Chiefs Association of Palm Beach County and as a member of the Palm Beach County Regional Hazardous Material Oversight Committee.
Chief Donatto’s commitment to excellence has raised the Department’s ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating to the highest level. ISO ratings are calculated based on several criteria, including but not limited to: the department's emergency communications systems, fire prevention efforts and public fire safety education programs. Departments found to embody the highest levels of efficiency and effectiveness in these criteria, like Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, are considered class one departments.
Fire Marshal of the Year:
Chief Ted Ross, Tice Fire and Rescue District
A commitment to the fire service runs deep in Chief Ross’ family. In 1994, he followed his father’s footsteps and joined the Tice Fire & Rescue District where he would serve his community for the next 20 years, eventually becoming the district’s fire marshal. In 2013, Chief Ross was promoted to district chief, but his excitement for fire safety did not dwindle. He petitioned to retain his duties as fire marshal, and in an unprecedented move, Chief Ross stepped into a hybrid role, serving as both fire chief and fire marshal.
In 2015, he was instrumental in improving the standing and investigative presence of area fire marshals by campaigning for additional equipment, engaging in educational opportunities and creating a functional consolidation of the fire/arson investigational resources in Lee County.
Chief Ross is not only a leader in his district, but he is also a dedicated teacher and mentor. He has worked to spread his expertise and insight as an instructor at the Southwest Florida Public Service Academy and the Ft. Myers Fire Academy.
Career Firefighter of the Year AND Fire Service instructor of the Year
Ryan Gallik, Firefighter/Paramedic with the City of St. Cloud Fire Rescue
In addition to his daily duties, Ryan has dedicated his free time to equipping fellow and aspiring firefighters with the knowledge and resources they need to understand how to be the most effective first responder. From 2008-2014, Ryan taught emergency medicine, basic firefighter training and emergency vehicle operations courses at the Technical Education Center Osceola. He has served as an EMT instructor at the Central Florida Fire Academy, and he recently returned from Poland where he taught a class on the use of unmanned aircraft in firefighting.
Using extensive knowledge gathered at the Florida State Fire College and the National Fire Academy in Maryland, Ryan organized and hosted Central Florida’s first Regional Safety Committee Forum to develop a region-wide, collaborative approach to ensuring that Central Florida first responders are practicing their duties in the most efficient and safe way possible. The forums membership has since extended to South Florida and now includes more than 40 different fire departments.
Fire Training Center of the Year:
Fire Academy of the South
Director Sheldon Reed accepted the Florida Fire Service Training and Education Provider of the Year award on behalf of the Fire Academy of the South.
The Fire Academy of the South is known as a premier training facility that is designed and operated to meet the training needs of Florida’s fire service community. As a nationwide leader in fire service training and education, and with the combined resources of the Florida State Fire College in Jacksonville and Jacksonville’s Fire Rescue Department, the Academy pioneered a fire apprentice program. The program provides EMT and basic firefighter training to financially-disadvantaged populations.
Adjusting its curriculum to remain on par with the developing use of technology in the fire service community, the Academy has expanded to include hands-on and classroom coursework involving the use of drones for public safety. Additionally, the facility is finalizing a liquid natural gas training unit that will provide live fire-training experience for Florida’s firefighters. Upon its completion, the Academy will be one of three facilities in the country offering this training.
Forestry Firefighter of the Year:
Forest Ranger David Dietz, Florida Forest Service
Ranger Dietz has been a leader in emergency response and land management efforts since joining Florida Forest Service in 2006. He is a well-respected and valuable member of the Florida Forest Service and an accomplished instructor and mentor as well. He has been a valuable asset in educating aspiring fire service members by teaching and engaging in statewide lessons surrounding forestry firefighting.
Ranger Dietz’ accomplishments are recognized in not only his professional career, but also in his personal life. One such instance occurred when Ranger Dietz was traveling and came across a distressed traveler. Without hesitating, he took as much time as was needed to assist the traveler, a mother and her daughters, by replacing a flat tire on their RV so they could travel along the interstate safely.
Volunteer Firefighter of the Year:
Chief Earl Gray, Highland Lakes Fire Department
At the young age of 18, Chief Gray started volunteering as a firefighter, answering the call to duty many times during the course of his 30-year career. Chief Gray’s experience is second to none, as he has been tasked with responding to calls involving distressed children and to high-stress responses involving airplane crashes, large-scale commercial fires and mass-casualty incidents.
As a volunteer fire chief, he is committed to recruiting and retaining other volunteers and equipping them with the tools and resources needed to best serve those in their local community. As a result of his inspirational and empowering characteristics, he has had the privilege of helping many generations of firefighters turn their passion into a career.
Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year:
Inspector Robert Lemons, Boca Raton Fire Rescue
Inspector Lemons has been a member of the fire service community for more than 30 years. He remains dedicated to protecting those around him, and he’s shown a true passion for continuing his own education. Following his studies in community risk reduction at the National Fire Academy in Maryland, Inspector Lemons has worked tirelessly to educate consumers on ways to reduce risk and increase the level of safety within the Boca Raton community.
He has developed several safety lessons as well as a five-year plan for his department aimed at engaging his community in risk reduction principles including fire extinguisher training for both residents and local businesses, kitchen fire safety, smoke alarm placement/testing/maintenance, proper use of child safety seats, and the importance of knowing CPR.