This week, state CFO Jimmy Patronis presented a Cabinet Resolution honoring Florida’s first responders that answered the call of duty following the Chipola Complex Wildfires that broke out in the Florida Panhandle on March 10.
“As Florida’s state fire marshal, I was honored to present this resolution recognizing the courage and dedication of Florida’s first responders in Bay County and to all of the other firefighting professionals who traveled from near and far and worked around the clock to respond to the Panhandle wildfires. In 2018, Hurricane Michael left a trail of destruction behind leading to massive wildfires that destroyed more than 33,000 acres, devastated two homes, and damaged 12 others forcing the evacuation of more than 1,000 residential homes, including a 120-bed veterans nursing home. Fire teams from across the state immediately answered the call to protect those in harm’s way. While others were running from the fires to seek shelter, these heroes ran toward the danger at the risk of their own health and safety. We owe a great deal of gratitude to these outstanding men and women for all the hard work they do to keep our communities safe. Thank you to all our first responders for your selflessness, your bravery, and your service to the great state of Florida,” Patronis said.
The resolution is below.
WHEREAS, in 2018 Category 5 Hurricane Michael, with 160 mph winds left behind 72 million tons and 2.8 million acres of downed and destroyed trees that provided fuel to which energized the wildfires that consumed parts of Bay and Calhoun counties; and
WHEREAS, the fast-moving wildfires, the Bertha Swamp Road fire, Adkins Avenue fire and Star Avenue fire, in the Florida Panhandle destroyed more than 33,000 acres, devastated two homes and damaged 12 others forcing the evacuation of more than 1,000 residential homes including a 120-bed, state-operated nursing home which houses the most vulnerable citizens, our veterans; and
WHEREAS, local fire rescue teams from across the Panhandle immediately responded to protect the lives and homes of their neighbors using 8 brush trucks, 7 engines, and 4 tankers assigned daily to the Chipola Complex event and approximately 120 local firefighters rotated through the 10 days of wildland fires, and awaited 9 additional statewide fire rescue teams, including 165 personnel from all across the state to descend on the Panhandle to provide additional support and relief to the local firefighting efforts; and
WHEREAS, Governor DeSantis issued an Executive Order declaring a State of Emergency to ensure that state and local governments had ample time, resources and flexibility to respond to the fire and enact life-saving measures and directed the funding of $6.1 million from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Community Action Agencies serving the affected counties which provides support to eligible families for temporary housing, food and transportation; and
WHEREAS, the local Bay County Emergency Managers worked closely with the Florida Division of Emergency Management to request assistance through the Fire Management Assistance Grant, which is available to states for the mitigation and control of fires on publicly or privately-owned forests or grasslands at the time a “threat of major disaster” exists; and
WHEREAS, our first responders willingly go into traumatic situations where exposure to these events can cause a tremendous impact on these heroes for years to come, therefore the deployment of three mental health professionals from the Tallahassee Mental Wellness Team, Indian River County Fire Rescue and Iona-McGregor Fire District were imperative to ensuring the mental health needs of our fire teams were properly addressed and invaluable support to these brave men and women; and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Governor and Cabinet of the State of Florida recognizes the unwavering heroic efforts of
• BAY COUNTY SHERRIFF’S OFFICE
• PANAMA CITY FIRE DEPT
• PANAMA CITY BEACH FIRE DEPT
• LYNN HAVEN FIRE DEPT
• SPRINGFIELD FIRE DEPT
• CALLAWAY FIRE DEPT
• BAY COUNTY EMERGENCY SERVICES
• CALHOUN COUNTY EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
• KINARD FIRE DEPARTMENT
• CARR/CLARKSVILLE FIRE DEPT
• BLOUNTSTOWN FIRE DEPT
STATEWIDE EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAMS
and owe a deep debt of gratitude to all first responders who are working around the clock for their service to protect others.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF the Chief Financial Officer of the State of Florida has hereunto subscribed his name on the 29th day of March 2022.
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