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Fire district holds annual awards ceremony

January 29, 2020
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Lehigh firefighters were thanked and recognized at a special ceremony earlier this month.

The Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District held its 2019 Promotion and Awards Ceremony on Jan. 15 at the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District. This ceremony recognized employees for career milestones such as years of service, promotions, and retirement.

According to Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District's Chief Robert DiLallo, this year's ceremony was standing room only, full of proud parents, wives and husbands.

"During some of the promotions we allowed the family member to pin their badges on them. They really enjoyed it," DiLallo said.

DiLallo also highlighted the accomplishments of employees who went beyond their call of service with Special Recognition certificates, Phoenix Awards, the Employee Performance Award, and the Firefighter of the Year Award.

"Each year we do the awards ceremony as way to recognize all the promotions, the best of the year and awards to recognize years of service. Now we also have an Employee Performance of the year award," DiLallo said.

According to DiLallo, the award ceremony had been discontinued until the fire district decided to bring it back a couple years ago.

"This ceremony really brings back the morale to our fire fighters and personnel. Every time you tell a firefighter you did a great job, they just say, well I'm just doing my job. It's nice to give them this special time to be recognized. This year we had our armed guard who presented our Colors and our Champlain opening with prayer," DiLallo said.

During the evening DiLallo presented awards for those celebrating service milestones including 10 years, 15 years, 20 years and a 30 years of service award given to Battalion Chief Tim Christensen, and promotions within the district.

Two longtime personnel also celebrated retirements; Firefighter William Welch retired after 26 years of service; and Battalion Chief Tim Christensen, one of the department's original Battalion Chiefs, retired with 30 years of service.

'The retirement of Chief Christensen after 30 years and Firefighter Billy Welch after 26 years was really special. Both valued for their great contributions to the department and the citizens of our community. DiLallo said.

Special recognition awards were also given out to members of the fire district for going above-and beyond including Firefighter Maury Morejon - Clips for Cancer, a fundraiser held at Golisano Children's Hospital to fight childhood cancer; Firefighter Sarah Goldstein for her work with Pink Heals and organizing the department's Breast Cancer Awareness T-shirts; Engineer Richard Rodriguez - Engine Committee and Mechanic Jeffrey Copping.

A Firefighter of the Year was also awarded to Field Training Officer Byrne Gribbin.

One of the highlights of the evening was the Phoenix Award, which is presented to personnel who have performed lifesaving treatments to patients in cardiac arrest.

"This year four lives were saved. Two of those families attended this year's awards. It's a very special moment during the Phoenix Awards, where crews get to meet someone who was actually dead and they revived them. It was a really emotional moment to have those people shake your hands," DiLallo said.

"It is an honor to lead this fantastic group of men and women, who embody our department's core values each and every day as they serve the Lehigh Acres community," DiLallo said. "As we reflect on last year's accomplishments we also look forward to continuing to serve the growing community of Lehigh Acres."

For more information on the Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District visit

Phoenix Award recipients

Jan. 21, 2019

- Firefighter/Paramedic Kyle Alva

- Firefighter/EMT Raul Villapanda

- Lieutenant Arturo Perez

- Firefighter/Paramedic Mario Santana

- Firefighter/Paramedic Abner Adorno

March 12, 2019

- Firefighter/Paramedic William Pappas

- Firefighter/EMT Devin Amoroso

- Firefighter/EMT David Sabiston

- Firefighter/EMT Gary Kruse, Jr.

- Retired Engineer Eddie Schreier

- Student William Johnson (San Carlos Park FD)

July 30, 2019

- Firefighter/Paramedic Maury Morejon

- Firefighter/EMT Ryan Cerone

- Firefighter/EMT Ezra Soto

- Engineer Christopher Schaefer

- Lieutenant Jeff Brady

Aug. 17, 2019

- Firefighter/Paramedic Julio Lalondriz

- Firefighter/EMT Lindsay Rodriguez

- Lieutenant Lisa VanderMeulen

- Firefighter/Paramedic Alexander Roessler

- Engineer Troy VanDyck



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