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:  June 2017

Hurricane Season 2017 officially began on June 1, and will continue until November 30.  While hurricane forecasting is not an exact science, weather forcasters have studied data through the years that enables them to make some fairly accurate predictions.  Dr. Phil Klotzbach who heads the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project recently issued the most current prediction in which he called for an above-average number of hurricanes for the 2017 season.  His prediction includes fourteen total named storms with six of those storms expected to reach hurricane strength in the Atlantic Basin.  As part of his prediction, Dr. Klotzbach is predicting a below-average number of two major (category 3 or higher) hurricanes.  While the 2017 season officially began on June 1, in a rare occurrence, Tropical Storm Arlene became the first named storm of the season when that storm formed back in April.  After Arlene, the next eight storm names in line for this season are Bret, Cindy, Don, Emily, Franklin, Gert, Harvey and Irma.

The City of Tavares reminds all of our citizens, visitors, business operators and friends to prepare now.  Tavares is far removed from the coastal shore, so we are not in danger of tidal surge and damages caused by ocean flooding.  However, we are subject to the damages from high winds or tornado's, and prolonged exposure to heavy rains.  From those storm factors, temporary loss of electrical power and other services can be encountered.  Emergency Managers suggest that everyone should be prepared to be self-sufficient for at least three days in the event of a severe storm.

The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has a great deal of preparedness information on their web site at  On that web site, you can find information on everything from current storm forecasts, to itemized lists for home emergency supply kits, and it's all free.  If you don't have a computer at home, there are computers at the Tavares Public Library that you can use for your research.

Remember to plan now, to help avoid dangerous surprises in the future.