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My Florida C F O

Dear Fellow Floridians:

In addition to serving as your chief financial watchdog, my role as CFO grants me the unique privilege of serving as Florida’s state fire marshal. In this capacity, my team and I work to educate Floridians on the damaging impacts of fire.

Fire Safety for SeniorsDuring 2007-2011, more than 13,000 individuals were injured during home fires, and an additional 2,570 tragically lost their lives. In our state, the most vulnerable population is our seniors, those 55 years of age and older. Studies have shown that many of these tragic losses of life could have been prevented through the use of operational smoke alarms.

Aimed at curbing this harmful trend, last year our Bureau of Fire Prevention applied for and received a FEMA grant for the purchase and installation of smoke alarms within senior residences. With the grant funding, the bureau purchased nearly 7,500 smoke detectors, each equipped with a ten-year high-efficiency battery and partnered with local fire departments across our state to distribute them to seniors.

So far, nearly 30 individual fire departments have participated in our program, and we are pleased to see these much-needed prevention tools circulating within communities across our state.

I want to give a special thanks to the fire departments that participated in the program. A complete list of those departments can be found within this issue of Dollars & Sense.

In addition to providing this important life-saving measure, the program included training on how to use and test smoke alarms, and information on how to respond to a fire emergency should one occur. I encourage all of you to discuss an emergency and evacuation plan with your loved ones, so that you are as prepared as possible should there be a fire.

For more information about fire safety for seniors, please visit our website at:

Jeff Atwater
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida

News of Interest

WPEC CBS 12: Billions of unclaimed money in Florida could be yours

Sun-Sentinel: Consumers feeling best about economy since recession

WMFE Orlando: Florida CFO wants to boost confidence in homeowner's insurance

News4Jax: Florida 3rd in job creation in 2014

Sun Sentinel: Freddie Mac: South Florida housing market closing in on stable range

Economy Watch: Consumer Confidence Surges as U.S. Home Prices Rise

Saint Petersblog: Jeff Atwater says insurance rates should be regulated at state level

UF News: UF's New Cell-Phone-Only Survey Shows Big Jump in Florida's January Consumer Confidence

Participating Fire Departments

Nassau County Fire Rescue
Southern Manatee Fire & Rescue District
Leesburg Fire Department
Oldsmar Fire Rescue
Gainesville Fire Rescue
Town of Eatonville (C/O Maitland FR)
Maitland Fire Rescue Department
South Trail Fire Protection & Rescue District
Dixie County Emergency Services
Williston Fire Rescue
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue
Pine Island/Matchla Fire Control District
Pasco County Fire Rescue Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue
Madison Fire and Rescue
Gretna Fire Department
Quincy Fire Department
Five Points Volunteer Fire Department
Martin County Fire Rescue
Gadsden County Fire Rescue
Englewood Area Fire Control District
Clermont Fire Department
Mount Dora Fire Department
Marianna Fire Rescue
Hardy County Fire Rescue
Sunrise Fire Rescue

February is Black History Month

Each week this month, we will be featuring one prominent African-American leader and highlighting his or her contributions to our country.

John Merrick (1859-1919)John Merrick, Banking and Insurance Pioneer, North Carolina (1859-1919)

John Merrick of Durham, NC afforded the black community of Durham the chance to compete economically by establishing the first bank for blacks. By also establishing the first insurance company for blacks, he opened the door for families to leave a lasting legacy to their loved ones. Furthermore, Merrick improved the health and wellbeing of his community by establishing the first black hospital, pharmacy, and through his philanthropy, the first black library. His impact to the African-American community remains, and his contributions to society continue to be revered by many.

State Fire Marshal Atwater Announces Arson Arrest

State Fire Marshal Badge

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who also serves as the state’s fire marshal, recently announced the arrest of Isaiah Richardson, 16, after an investigation conducted by the Jacksonville State Fire Marshal’s Office and in partnership with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office determined he intentionally set four recent fires in the Jacksonville area.

A suspect was detained and identified as Isaiah Richardson who was interviewed by SFM detectives and confessed to intentionally setting all four fires. He also indicated that had he not been detained, he would have continued setting fires in the area. He was arrested and charged with four counts of arson.

Anyone with information about an arson-related incident in the state of Florida is asked to contact the Arson Tip Hotline by calling 1-877-662-7766.

Florida Economic Briefs

Florida consumer confidence is up in January
Consumer sentiment rose 5.9 points in January, to 93.3 (87.4 in December). This increase is due to improving perceptions of personal finances, a result of lower gas prices, and a change in methodology. The change in methodology was primarily in utilizing cell phones over house phones for the telephone survey.
Source: Bureau of Economic and Business Research at the University of Florida

Florida’s economy predicted to grow at faster rates than U.S.
Florida’s economy is projected to grow 2.33 percent over the next six months, faster than the national projection of 1.74 percent. Florida’s Leading Index was 2.33 percent in December, 0.59 percentage points higher than the national index of 1.74 percent. The Leading Index is a six-month forecast of Florida’s Coincident Index, which is a summary of current economic conditions.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia

Outlook on 2015

This issue of Florida’s Bottom Line highlights opportunities that lie ahead of us in the coming year, as well as issues from 2014. It includes economic forecasts and expert analysis on Florida from leading economists, and insightful outlooks on key industries from the industry leaders themselves.

Fostering Financial Prosperity