July 1, 2016
Orlando, Florida, “The City Beautiful” or more commonly known as the “theme park capital of the world” drew more than 62 million visitors to its attractions in 2014. Orlando is considered the 24th largest metropolitan area in the United States, and the 6th largest in the southern United States. Its major theme parks include Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND, Gatorland, and Wet ‘n Wild. Orlando is also known for its conferences and conventions, with the Orange County Convention Center being one of the largest convention centers in the United States.
With such a heavy influx of tourist and visitor traffic, having up to date fire and life safety protection systems is extremely important. The Orlando Metro area alone has a population of nearly 2.3 million people. This is not including the millions of tourists that are in the Orlando area at any given time. “Orlando is the most visited destination in the United States” says Will Seccombe, the president and CEO of Visit Florida. This constant influx of people adds to the burden of the local fire departments as they have to not only care for the citizens but also a large amount of visitors from all over the world.
Unfortunately, Orlando has recently become known as the city with the deadliest mass shooting in United States history. On June 12, 2016 at Pulse nightclub, 49 people were killed and 53 others were wounded in a terrorist attack/hate crime. This tragedy has affected the city’s employees that are responsible for emergency response and fire and life safety care. It was reported that 80 Orlando Fire Department employees helped treat the victims of this horrible event. Lt. Davis Odell Jr. who’s fire station was less than 300 feet from Pulse, stated “I saw the best in our personnel immediately and instinctively focus on those who could be saved, it was our finest hour of performance in the most unimaginable circumstance.”
The Orlando Fire Department took root in 1885 as a volunteer fire department. Now the city has 17 Firehouses, an emergency management team, arson and bomb squad, dive rescue team, hazardous materials team, and technical rescue team. The city takes every effort to educate and train its citizens on fire and life safety measures. It is currently running a free smoke alarm program and CPR course, along with other more intensive education opportunities. The Orlando Fire Department is set apart and recognized as one of only 15 departments in America that has both an International Accreditation and ISO 1 Classification. On top of that, the OFD is ranked number 1 by an independent national organization (Insurance Services Office) that ranks fire departments on the basis of their training, equipment, and preparedness.