Fire Department History

History of the Department

People and Cars in Front of Fire StationThe Winter Haven Fire Department has been serving the City and its citizens since 1911. The earliest records found indicate it started with a group of civilians who volunteered to fight the fires that happened inside the city. The Department's first appointed fire chief was I.M. Johnson, per Ordinance Number 181, he was allowed to select a "fire company" for the city. Every time there was a fire, the volunteers would respond to the incidents to put the fires out. The city provided them with coats and helmets to be used only when on duty. The City's first space for the fire department was built in 1922 at City Hall, floorplans for the new City Hall included a room to be used as the fire department and provided room to store the fire apparatus. The Fire Chief Position remained a volunteer position until 1937 when the City appointed Marvin A. Pfaender as the first paid Fire Chief for the department. In 1951, the entire volunteer Fire Department became part of the city employees and were recognized as full-time firefighters, working 24-hour shifts followed by 24 hours off.

Old Fire Department 1 TruckThroughout the years, the department has evolved into what it is now. Today, the Winter Haven Fire Department is comprised of the Fire Operations side of the City of Winter Haven's Public Safety Department. The department serves approximately 55,000 citizens living within the city and its surroundings. It has three stations located strategically throughout the city that provide the best care and fast service to the people. The department has a total of 84 paid employees, consisting of 60 firefighters, 15 lieutenants, 3 battalion chiefs, a Training Officer, an Emergency Medical Coordinator, a Logistics Officer, an Operations Chief, a Fire Chief and Executive Assistant. The prevention bureau has 5 Fire Inspectors and a Fire Marshal. The department has four fire engines, one tower/ladder, one heavy rescue for extrication, and one rescue boat. The firefighters respond to a variety of calls, including but not limited to fire suppression, medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, and service calls, among many others. The firefighters are also all certified as Emergency Medical Technicians or Paramedics with the state of Florida. The department has paramedics in each engine company and became an ALS provider in 2006 to provide better medical services to the city. In 2016, the department developed a Technical Rescue Team with 17 members, these members have certifications in Rope Rescue Operations, Confined Space Operations, and Vehicle Machinery Rescue Operations. Many members are also trained and perform at a Technician level in these disciplines.

Fire Chief Floyd Pfaender, Chief of Department from 1919 to 1934 and 1936 to 1937.

Fire Chief Floyd Pfaender