CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis Honors US&R Task Force 6 During “Year of the US&R” Challenge Coin Ceremony in Fort Myers
~ The CFO’s “Year of the US&R” Statewide Tour honors the service of Florida’s US&R teams during the Surfside Tragedy while advocating for $10 Million in Funding ~
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Today, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis honored members of Florida’s Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Force 6 during a ceremony in Fort Myers as a part of his “Year of the US&R” statewide tour. Following the tragic Surfside Condo Collapse, CFO Patronis has fought to secure $10 million in funding for equipment and training to support Florida’s dedicated US&R task forces. During the Ceremony, the CFO was joined by members of the Florida fire service community, the Florida Professional Firefighters, the Florida Fire Chiefs Association and elected officials to honor members of US&R Task Force 6 with Surfside Memorial Challenge Coins. The CFO distributed nearly 40 challenge coins to US&R Task Force 6.
CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said, “It was an honor to be in Fort Myers today and recognize the brave men and women of Florida’s US&R Task Force 6. I saw the work of God when hundreds of Florida’s Urban Search & Rescue Team members fought, and kept fighting, for any hopes of life. They worked 12 hour shifts in the Miami summer, cutting rebar, cutting concrete, filling 5-gallon buckets of debris, hand-by-hand. These men and women battled fire, they battled rain, they battled the heat. Their boots and gloves were destroyed. On that mound of rubble, I saw hell on Earth. But I also saw God’s presence in the men and women that fought with every ounce of their being to save lives. Surfside was a tragedy on a mass scale, and it’s going to stick with me forever.
“As the State Fire Marshal, I felt compelled to do something to honor these heroes for everything they sacrificed. In today’s ceremony, we honored them with a challenge coin and a ribbon for them to wear on their uniform. The challenge coin represents respect, unity and courage, values that Florida firefighters live by. It is my hope that these coins are passed on through generations of their children, and their children, and their children, so that everyone knows that heroes walk amongst us.
“I’ve made it my top priority this year to tour the state and fight for $10 million in funding for Florida’s US&R task forces. A huge thank you to Governor DeSantis for including this $10 million investment for US&R teams as part of his budget. The Governor’s support gives this effort a great chance for success, but we’re not taking any of it for granted. Until it crosses the finish line, we’ll keep fighting for our US&R teams, especially as the world witnessed their heroism at Surfside, Florida.”
Bernie Bernoska, President, Florida Professional Firefighters said, “CFO Patronis has long been a fierce advocate for Florida’s more than 45,000 firefighters. The men and women who answered the call and came to Surfside have been through hell and back, and we all owe them our gratitude for their service. Thank you, CFO Patronis, for ensuring they get the recognition they so deserve.”
Ray Colburn, Executive Director and CEO, Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association said, “There is no one better to have in your corner than Jimmy Patronis. Without a doubt, the Surfside condo collapse was one of the most challenging experiences for our men and women in the fire service community. I appreciate CFO Patronis for being there for our fire chiefs every step of the way. Recognizing Florida’s US&R teams will go a long way to showing support for these heroes.”
The Surfside Memorial Challenge Coins feature the seal of the State Fire Marshal’s Office with words “RESPECT” “UNITY” “INTEGRITY” and “COURAGE,” which are the values Florida Firefighters live by. The other side features a picture of the Champlain Tower with the words “Surfside Collapse” “June 24, 2021.”
Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces
• Task Force FL-1 - Miami-Dade Fire Rescue
• Task Force FL-2 - City of Miami Fire Department
• Task Force FL-3 - Hillsborough County Fire Rescue
• Task Force FL-4 - Central Florida Urban Search & Rescue
• Task Force FL-5 - Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department
• Task Force FL-6 - Southwest Florida Urban Search & Rescue
• Task Force FL-7 - Tallahassee Fire Department
• Task Force FL-8 - Marion County Fire Rescue
For more information on Florida’s US&R Task Forces, click here.