Tallahassee Firefighter Selected As Florida Professional Firefighter Of The Year

By: Tallahassee Fire Department; Winnie Wright; Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Tallahassee Fire Department; Winnie Wright; Lanetra Bennett Email
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By: Lanetra Bennett
April 22, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - One of Tallahassee's own fireifghters is recognized with a statewide award.

Lieutenent Rusty Roberts received the Florida Professional Firefighter of the Year. He and about a dozen other firefighters and fire service members from across Florida were recognized during Tuesday's Cabinet Meeting at the Capitol.

The group received individual resolutions signed by Governor Rick Scott and the cabinet members during a reception at the Capitol Monday night.

Roberts 25-year career expands past fighting fires. He's certified as a
HAZMAT instructor and arson investigator, and is active in community service.

He says, "I'm very humbled for this. I accepted it on behalf of all the firefighters in the state of Florida. I work in a great department--Tallahassee Fire Department--that has a tremendous amount of individuals that are really are top notch."

The recognitions were a part of Florida State Fire Marshal Jeff Atwater's Annual Fire Service Awards.

Before the Cabinet Meeting, here was a "Ringing of the Bell" ceremony to remember fallen firefighters. Eight names will be added to the "Wall of Honor" on the first floor of the Capitol.

News Release: Tallahassee Fire Department

The Tallahassee Fire Department’s very own Lt. Rusty Roberts will be recognized tonight as the recipient of this year’s Florida Professional Firefighter of the Year award presented by the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Roberts will receive an individual resolution signed by the Governor and members of the Cabinet at this evenings Fire Service Awards ceremony. “I am not surprised by this award at all as Lt. Rusty Roberts has spent his career going above and beyond as a firefighter and helping people in and around our community, he’s simply an outstanding individual,” said Interim Fire Chief John Gatlin.

Roberts began his fire service career in June of 1989, and he has risen through the ranks to become lieutenant with the Tallahassee Fire Department. In his 25 year career, Roberts has been involved in a number of events.

  • In 1998, he spent two weeks in Central Florida fighting the dangerous wildfires sweeping the area.

  • He also participated in the Extrication Team International Competitions from 2001 through 2007.

  • He has certifications as HAZMAT instructor, live fire instructor, arson investigator and Tallahassee Community College Fire School Instructor.

  • While his first love is firefighting, he also has a passion for community service and helping those in need.

  • He was a Muscular Dystrophy Association camp counselor for nine years.

  • He worked as a United Way Coordinator.

  • He is on the Board of Directors for the Guardians of the Ribbon, Tallahassee Chapter.

  • His love for children is evident by his work. In 2001, he started Children’s Burn Camp of North Florida, Inc., and he has been the executive director since its inception.

  • Working in conjunction with the Tallahassee and Jacksonville Fire Departments, Roberts was instrumental in the development of “Camp Amigo,” a week long summer camp for children who are burn survivors.

  • This camp plays a pivotal role in helping these young children understand that they are not alone in their experience.

  • He has also been the District 12 burn coordinator for the International Association of Firefighters for the past 14 years.

  • His commitment to saving lives and bettering his community makes him an outstanding recipient of today’s award.

Roberts says these are all things firefighters would do without expecting to be honored.

"It's awesome. It's also not something, as a firefighter, it's my job to do all these things, and I expect to do these things", he says. "I accept it for the department that does so much for the community, and I'm just a member of it."

Roberts, along with other honorees, will also be recognized jointly at the Cabinet meeting at the Capitol tomorrow. Members of the media are welcome to join both presentations.

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