By Tamas Mondovics
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue (HCFR) foundation is gearing up to honor its members next month as well as remember those first responders who lost their lives in the line of duty. The event is scheduled for Friday, November 7 at The Regent, located at 6437 Watson Rd. in Riverview from 6-11 p.m.
“The award ceremony will honor members of the department who have gone ‘above and beyond’ in their duties to save lives and preserve property,” said Foundation President Ronnie Rivera who spoke highly of the department, emphasizing its size and what it has been able to achieve in its more than a half-a century-long history.
“HCFR is a dynamic, full- service, fire rescue organization,” Rivera said, adding, “The department serves a diverse community with a population of more than 832,000 in the 909 square miles of unincorporated Hillsborough County.”
A recent example of the heroes that fill the County’s fire stations is Sun City Center firefighter, Clint Walker. A Bradenton resident, Walker was on his way to work one morning last month when he saw smoke and flames coming from a home in Manatee County.
He first dialed 911 warning the Bradenton Fire Department of the structure fire, and then sprang into action by running up to the burning home, waking up the family who managed to get out of the home safely although the house was destroyed in the fire. Walker told reporters that the family was very thankful he was there, although all he said he did was “just tried to help out.”
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue began in the 1950s as an all-volunteer force. The first fulltime career firefighters were hired in 1973. The department has steadily evolved into one the largest and most progressive departments in the state. With more than 1,000 career uniformed and support personnel, as well as over 140 Reserve Responders, HCFR continues to set the pace in fire and emergency medical services delivery.
Now the department responds to over 87,000 calls for service each year.
HCFR Foundation also provides funding to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue to educate, inform and involve the citizens of Hillsborough County in protecting life and property in the event of an emergency.
“We are asking business owners and individuals to consider supporting this year’s awards ceremony,” Rivera said.
All donations may be made to the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue Foundation, Inc. and sent to 2709 E. Hanna Ave. Tampa, FL 33610. Call 209-0097 or visit www.hcfrfoundation.org for more information.