Brooke Ricciardi is a powerhouse at the Lehigh Acres Fire Dept. She was recently honored by the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce for all the work she does in addition to her regular duties at the fire district.
Full of energy, this 34-year-old young woman is an engineer and paramedic. She is responsible for the driving of the pumper and aerial truck in the department in addition to fighting fires and being able to treat injured people as an emergency paramedic.
Primarily she works out of Station 102 on Homestead Rd., and works 24-hour shifts on and 48 off. There are at least four other women who work for the Lehigh Acres Fire Dept. as firefighters.
She has been with the fire department since 2005 and prior to that worked for the Lee County EMS for three years.
Ricciardi is known for her wide smile and her interest in others and because of her interests in others, she has helped to bring the morale up at the fire department, according to Fire Chief John Wayne when he spoke at the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce's annual gala a few weeks ago.
Ricciardi said she loves her work because she just enjoys helping others and what better way than as a firefights or a paramedic.
But she is even more than that.
During her first Christmas with the department, Ricciardi urged her co-workers there to hold a bicycle drive for Lehigh kids. The next year, she helped to buy books and she has been active for the firefighters for their own benefits. That group donated a check one year for $1,000 to Lehigh Community Services to help buy much needed school supplies.
"We have purchased school supplies for Lehigh Community Services in the summer for their back to school program and headed that up. We had our own people give cash or leave school supplies at the stations mainly for older students which we have given to Lehigh Community Services.
"Rae Nicely is a great person and I enjoy working with her. We ask her what she needs when school time comes around, like notebooks, papers, etc., and we do our best to supply the agency," she said. Nicely was honored at the same chamber annual banquet as the Heart Of Lehigh recipient, the top award that the chamber can bestow on someone in the community who has helped others in some important way.
Ricciardi has volunteered in the past with the Meals on Wheels program on her days off, saying she delivered food to people who were homebound.
She encouraged others to do the same.
She said she was surprised when Fire Chief John Wayne selected her to be honored at the chamber gala. He told her that everyone in the fire district knew of all that she did and her coworkers were proud of her and that was why he had selected her for the honor.
She said he told her that a fire department employee will be honored quarterly in the future.
Why is someone like Ricciardi so active in helping others?
"I just love helping out," she said, modestly. I have seen the needs in Lehigh after I transferred here and I just wanted to help out," she said.
Ricciardi was sitting during the interview when the alarm went off. She listened to the announcement from the dispatcher.
"I've got to run," she smiled. And off she went, jumped into the front behind the wheel of the pumper truck.
She received special training and took a promotional test to be able to be an engineer and be responsible to dive the pumper and aerial truck.
She is the first female engineer in the department.