homepage logo

District awards exceptional personnel and celebrates career milestones

By MELISSA BILL - | Feb 17, 2021


The Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District held its 2020 Promotion and Awards Ceremony in a new way last week.

But as always, the ceremony recognized the district’s exceptional firefighters, personnel, and employees with career milestones for 2020 including years of service, promotions, and retirement.

According to Lehigh Acres Fire Control and Rescue District’s Chief Robert DiLallo, it was a responsible, but tough, decision to cancel the district’s traditional awards ceremony this year.

“Although I will miss our annual gathering of family and friends, I did have the pleasure of individually presenting each member with their award or recognition while they were on shift. This past year has been a whirlwind of activity for our district; a global pandemic overlapped a busy brush fire season, the rebuilding of Station 101 and remodeling of Station 103 (both to repair damage from Hurricane Irma), and a change in our fire assessment. While all of these events affected members of our staff differently, the thing I am most proud of is that throughout the entire year everyone continued to show up, every day, to provide quality service to the residents and visitors of our District,” DiLallo said in a prepared statement.

DiLallo also highlighted the high standards set by the district, both internally and externally and how he was excited to have the pleasure of highlighting employees who went beyond their call to service. Among the awards given were the Phoenix Awards, the Employee Performance Award, and the Firefighter of the Year Award.

The following personnel were presented with the prestigious Phoenix Award, which is given to personnel who have performed lifesaving treatments to patients in cardiac arrest:

Jan. 16, 2020: Jason Korte, Mark Howe, Peter Nyholm, Ryan Cerone, Steven Tezyk, Abner Adorno

July 19, 2020: Jeromy Vandermuelen, Vincent Lopez, Zachary Gilmore, Nicholas Classetti, Byrne Gribbin

July 19, 2020: Julio Lalondriz, Alex Roessler, Lisa Vandermuelen, Lindsay Rodriguez, Keith Bisgounis

Aug. 14, 2020: Mark Howe, Fernando Quirch, Tanner Mack, Michael Hoeft, Angel Nieves

Sept. 2, 2020: John Haugh, Frode Jurnhart, Stefan Wiesing, Josh Grida, Rogelio Rodriguez

Sept. 6, 2020: Jake Canning, Tomas Diaz, Richard Rodriguez, Angel Nieves, Michael Picciano, Adam Sommer, Ahren Surgent, Tanner Mack

Oct. 9, 2020: David Dossi, Joel Rivas, Gary Kruse, Jr., Sarah Goldstein, William Pappas.

Other awards and recipients included:

1. Firefighter of the Year – Javier Bermudez

Firefighter/EMT Javier Bermudez was nominated by his fellow district peers and Chief to receive the honorable award as the Firefighter of the Year. Javier started his career with the organization on May 23, 2016. Bermudez demonstrates focused dedication on his career development, having already completed the move up Engineer and move-up Lieutenant processes to better himself and the department.

2. Employee Performance Award- Division Chief Larry Arfmann

Division Chief Larry Arfmann was selected as the Employee Performance of the Year. He started his career with the organization on March 10, 1997. In each nomination letter submitted, Arfmann was mentioned as always setting the example for other members and his willingness to take on any project that benefits the department. Throughout the pandemic, he stepped up and kept everyone up to date on CDC guidelines, checked in on those who were infected or exposed, and made sure crews always had necessary PPE supplies.

3. Administrative Performance of the Year – Public Relations Officer Katie Heck

Public Relations Officer Katie Heck was selected for the Administrative Performance Award. Katie was hired into a newly created public relations position on Dec. 2, 2019, to work towards the district’s goal of improving community engagement and safety education. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Katie sought out creative ways to continue to keep the Lehigh community informed, through virtual meet-ups, parades, safety popups, and social media. Leading up to the referendum on the assessment, she worked tirelessly to provide facts to engaged citizens and address rumors and false information online.

Special Recognition Awards

Special Recognition Awards were also given out to Firefighter Maury Morejon for his work with Clips for Cancer; Firefighter Sarah Goldstein for her organization of T-shirt fundraiser to benefit Pink Heals and Firefighter Javier Bermudez and wife Sarah Prieto for recognizing each firefighter’s immediate need for additional COVID-19 protective gear and developing and constructing face shields for all response personnel.

Celebrating Service Milestones:

5 Years: Arturo Perez, Jeffrey Copping, William Pappas, Steven Tezyk

10 Years: Adam Sherman, Lisa VanderMeulen, Dennis Walsh, Jason Korte, Kenneth McDonald

15 Years: Jason Collins, Michael Picciano, Joshua Golden, Abner Adorno, Richard Pride, Brooke Ricciardi, James Saunders, James Edinger, Kevin Martin, Jeffery Brady, Anthony Rocco, Franklin Berggren, Oreste Borrego

25 Years: Robert DiLallo, Robert Pitter

Celebrating Promotions:

• Battalion Chief Robert Midea, Lieutenant Crystal Imsdahl, Lieutenant Keith Bisgounis

For more information on LAFCRD visit https://www.lehighfd.com/