State Fire Marshal Atwater Introduces 'Operation Dispatch' in Jacksonville
CFO Atwater was joined in introducing Operation Dispatch by Florida State College at Jacksonville President Dr. Cynthia Bioteau, Commander of the Florida Air National Guard Brigadier General James O. Eifert and Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs Deputy Executive Director Colonel Al Carter. Members of the military and firefighter communities were also present, including firefighter Dan Haley with St. John’s County Fire Rescue and Jonas Macskassy, a veteran who recently completed his firefighter training and received his certification from CFO Atwater.
"Military service members and veterans share the discipline, education and experience that’s integral to becoming part of Florida’s firefighting community," said CFO Atwater. "As State Fire Marshal, it is imperative to reduce unnecessary hurdles for those who have honorably served our country as firefighters to transition into careers as Florida-certified firefighters. I am honored to announce this program with the support of military and firefighter communities statewide."
"FSCJ has always been an avid supporter of the dedicated men and women who serve in our military forces using a combination of their education and training to protect our communities at home and abroad," said FSCJ President Dr. Cynthia Bioteau. "We are proud to partner with CFO Atwater to be a part of a program that operates on the same principle, allowing individuals to apply comparative experience-based training to fulfill certification requirements to continue protecting the safety and well-being of those in our communities."
"It is exciting to see the program, Operation Dispatch, begin in Florida and once again benefit service members.... to have the state recognize the training our military firefighters have been through is inspiring," said Brigadier General James O. Eifert. "For this effort, I would like to thank Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater."
"We are excited to work with the CFO’s office and firefighting community on this initiative and provide another seamless pathway for our patriots to continue a higher calling as they join the 60,000 elite firefighters in the state of Florida," said Al Carter, Deputy Executive Director for the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs. "This opportunity lays the groundwork for future opportunities in firefighting and rescue operations that inspire our returning veterans to join a higher calling and encourage them to make Florida their home."
"I am excited about the opportunity to work alongside former military men and women as they transition into the ranks of the civilian fire service," said firefighter Dan Haley with St. John’s County Fire Rescue. "These men and women have selflessly protected and served our great nation through military service. As a civilian firefighter, I have no doubt they will serve the local community with the same honor and courage that has been ingrained in them."
Designed to attract military service members and veterans to Florida, Operation Dispatch cuts out redundant training so military-trained firefighters take 40 hours of training specific to Florida standards. This program allows these dedicated men and women to continue meaningful and long-lasting careers in the Florida fire service industry.
"I am proud to be part of a program like Operation Dispatch that recognizes my military service training and allows me to continue doing the job that I love," said program graduate Jonas Macskassy. "I hope that my story inspires others to utilize this unique opportunity to continue their firefighting careers."
"Florida seeks to be the most military and veteran friendly state in the nation and we know that veterans contribute significantly to our workforce," said Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director Jesse Panuccio. "DEO is proud to work with CFO Atwater to promote the hiring of veterans through Operation Dispatch."
Through partnerships forged with the Florida Departments of Veterans’ and Military Affairs, Operation Dispatch reduces the costs associated with the Florida-specific training and testing to military firefighters. The program also allows participants to take the certification exam in a more timely fashion than the regularly-scheduled quarterly administrations, which upon successful completion helps newly-certified firefighters enter Florida’s workforce faster.