Fire Department

Fire Chief Richard Keith

A note from the City of Tavares Fire Chief; 

The City of Tavares Fire Department is a career department with 25 professionals providing “round-the-clock” fire and life safety protection to the residents and guests of our beautiful city.  Twenty-two of our personnel are assigned to the Operations Division, and work the typical 3 Shift (24-hour “on duty” / 48-hour “off”) fire department schedule.  Each of our 3 Operational Shifts has a Battalion Chief assigned as the shift commander and highest-ranking officer on that Shift.  Three of our personnel (the Fire Chief, our Fire Marshal / Fire Safety Inspector, and our Administrative Officer) are assigned to the Administrative Division, and keep regular Monday through Friday business hours.

Working out of two fire stations, we respond to over 4,000 requests for service every year.  Those responses include fires, emergency medical service calls, automatic and manual fire alarms, automobile collisions, smoke investigations, water rescues, natural cover fires, and weather emergencies.

Tavares Fire Department provides emergency medical care to the sick and injured at the Advanced Life Support (ALS) level.  This service is provided through our firefighters who are also trained and licensed by the State of Florida as Paramedics and/or Emergency Medical Technicians.  Through an agreement with Lake Emergency Medical Services, we respond jointly with their ambulances to medical emergencies, and render emergency medical care to the sick and injured.  Lake EMS provides our medical direction and operational protocol through the Medical Director.

We strive for excellence in the customer service we deliver, and we consider anyone who needs our help to be our customer.  Our primary response jurisdiction is the City of Tavares, but through a series of inter-local “closest-unit” agreements with our neighboring communities (Eustis, Leesburg, and Mount Dora) and Lake County, we routinely travel outside of our city to help others.

Many people are curious about what a fire chief does.  My response to that inquiry almost always includes what I consider the two main functions for any fire chief.  First, the fire chief is tasked with making sure the firefighters of that jurisdiction are available to serve, are well trained, well equipped, and ready to fulfill the missions of that fire department.  Second, the fire chief is tasked with doing everything he or she can to make sure their firefighters operate and work in a safe manner, so that they go safely home to their family at the end of their shift, and work through a rewarding career and live to enjoy their golden years of well-deserved retirement.  If I have done at least those two things, then I think I have succeeded in the most important parts of my job.

Lastly, I have included our mission statements, values and goals at the end of this letter.  We attempt to incorporate these statements as an important and normal part of our professional service.  Everything we do is directed toward that one final, and most important goal, “Everyone Goes Home”!

From all of our fire service professionals at Tavares Fire Department, thank you for allowing us the opportunity and honor to serve. 

Welcome to the City of Tavares.

Richard D. Keith
Fire Chief
City of Tavares

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                           Safety Tip of the Month:  April 2017

We are only at the front edge of brush fire season, and already many serious brush fires have occurred across our State and in Lake County.  We have already had brush fires within Tavares city limits that had the potential to cause great damage.  Thankfully our Tavares fire suppression crews (assisted by Lake County, Eustis and Mount Dora Fire Departments) were able to extinguish these fire before the flames reached any houses.

Open burning is very dangerous!  When it is done, it must be done with utmost caution! However, opening burning within Tavares city limits is a violation of City Ordinances (Chapter 6, Sections 6-28, 6-29 and 6-30) and is generally prohibited.  There is a provision in City Ordinances to obtain a permit from Tavares Fire Department that will allow open burning under certain circumstances and with strict regulation.  Violation of the Open Burning Ordinance can result in fines and having to reimburse the Fire Department for expenses incurred.  Open burning in Tavares includes burning in a container that was not designated and manufactured commercially for that purpose.  This means that a fire in a metal drum or a concrete block pit is considered "open burning."

The Ordinance language prohibiting open burning specifically includes the burning of yard waste, trash and wood.  One of our many benefits we have in Tavares is our twice-a-week trash service.  Instead of attempting to burn your yard waste, leaves and trash, put it all in your rolling trash box and set it at the curb.  Your refuse will be disposed of in a safe, efficient manner, and with less environmental impact than happens when you attempt to burn it yourself in your back yard.