SFO Jimmy's Patronis' Seal

State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis Deploys Mental Health Professionals to the Panhandle

~ Tours Impacted Areas and Provides Update on Fire Suppression Efforts~
BAY COUNTY, Fla. – Today, Florida Chief Financial Officer (CFO) & State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis announced the deployment of two mental health professionals from Indian River County Fire Rescue and Iona-McGregor Fire District to ensure the mental health needs of fire teams is being properly met. CFO Patronis also received a briefing on the fires at the Unified Command Center in Panama City, toured the Sims Veterans Nursing Home that was evacuated out of an abundance of caution and also visited with evacuated veterans at the County Fair Grounds. Additionally, the CFO toured impacted areas for the Star Avenue fire.
CFO & State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said, “Firefighters are currently battling wildfires on a number of fronts and the members of our fire service community are giving everything they have to put them out. These fires are being fueled by the remnants of Hurricane Michael – and unfortunately – the humidity has been low, and the wind gusts have continued to play a factor. Governor DeSantis, the Division of Emergency Management, and Florida Forestry have been engaged and are working hard to get the equipment and manpower that’s needed to defend these communities.
“In addition to deploying mental wellness professionals, my office has helped coordinate the deployment of four separate Fire Engine Strike Teams from all across the state to the Panhandle, so that the men and women who are currently fighting these fires are getting more support and relief. Currently additional brush firefighting resources are responding from the Panhandle as teams are assembling across the state. We continue to ask area residents to pay attention to instructions from their local officials. The reality is until Mother Nature helps us out, we may keep seeing more instances of fire threatening Panhandle communities.
“Our first responders willingly go into traumatic situations and exposure to these events can cause a tremendous impact on these heroes for years to come. I am incredibly thankful to the mental wellness professionals who will provide invaluable support to these brave men and women. We all owe a deep debt of gratitude to our first responders who are working around the clock to put out these wildfires and for their service to selflessly go into danger for others.”
To date, the Adkins Avenue Fire composed of 875 acres is 40 percent contained; Bertha Swamp 13,000-acre fire is 10 percent contained and the Star Avenue 275-acre fire is 45 percent contained.
Fire Engine Strike Teams composed of 22 personnel each, have been deployed to the Adkins Avenue Fire, staging at Harders Park. Brush and Structural teams are being deployed to Bear Creek Baptist Church. The State Fire Marshal’s office deployed a cache of 30 handheld radios from Ocean City Wright Fire Control District to support Bay County Emergency Services. Three Drone Strike teams have been deployed to identify hot spots and fire perimeter. Medics have been deployed to provide medical response to first responders and residents as needed. The two mental health professionals deployed today will join the mental health professional who was deployed on Saturday from the Tallahassee Mental Wellness team.