The Oakland Park Fire Rescue Department works tirelessly to uphold the health and safety of our community, including providing fire suppression and advanced life support emergency medical services to the city of Oakland Park.
Supporting that mission is the Firefighters Benevolent Association, a non-profit organization of 72 firefighters in Oakland Park. As an extension of the Oakland Park Fire Rescue Department, the Benevolent Association was founded in 1986 to help raise funds to support community outreach initiatives and supporting families in need.
This includes annual fundraising and community engagement events such as Santa Express, during which time the fire department offers families the chance to have their holiday gifts delivered by Santa on a fire engine. Funds raised through this fun and festive holiday program go toward providing other families in the community to help them have a joyful holiday season. Lowes and Home Depot also generously donate pre-lit Christmas trees to help make the season more festive.
In the past, the Firefighters Benevolent Association of Oakland Park has also participated in fundraisers for the American Lung Association, community Easter Egg Hunts, and other events across the city.
Giving Back to Future Generations
Most recently, though, the Firefighters Benevolent Association of Oakland Park decided to make a difference in a different way. Their inaugural $1000 scholarship, funded entirely by donations to the organization, was recently awarded to a senior at Northeast High School with plans to go into emergency services after completing her college education.
The Firefighters Benevolent Association of Oakland Park Scholarship was established under Captain Christopher Lunt, Treasurer of the association. He connected with BRACE Advisors at Northeast High School to learn more about what would be necessary to create the scholarship for a deserving student.
“We wanted to provide a scholarship to a student within the city,” Captain Lunt says, “Our recipient, Laysha Torres, has expressed a desire to be a paramedic or go into emergency response work in the future, so it feels a bit like paying it forward.”
While qualifying applicants were not required to pursue a future in emergency response work, there were a few stipulations. Candidates were required to be residents of Oakland Park and in their senior year at Northeast High School. They also had to have a minimum 3.0 GPA. As part of the application process, students were to submit letters of recommendation and an essay detailing why they should be selected for the scholarship.
Oakland Park Fire Rescue Extrication Team Among the Best in the Country
Captain Christopher Lunt is also proud of Team Carnage, Oakland Park Fire Rescue Department’s newly formed extrication competition team.
Team Carnage participates in timed extrication competitions hosted by the North American Vehicle Rescue Association, a non-profit organization founded in 2008 to help empower rescuers with the knowledge and tools they need for success. With nearly 140,000 injuries and more than 3,000 deaths associated with motor vehicle accidents every day, their mission is critical for public safety.
Extrication, Captain Lunt explains, becomes necessary when an accident victim is trapped within a vehicle and needs to be removed. Because of the potential severity of injuries, it is vital that the victim is moved no more than one-quarter of an inch throughout the process.
“Fire departments don’t just fight fires. We also respond to medical calls and car accidents. Being able to access patients and render care may be hindered by doors that won’t open or the car has been crushed. What we have to do is cut the car away, but the issue is that it requires a tremendous amount of force in multiple directions, which can result in serious damage to the person. The goal of extricating a person is to remove the car from the person without moving that person any more than a quarter of an inch in the process. Someone with an incomplete spinal injury only needs a quarter of an inch of unplanned movement in order to make that a life altering injury,” he says.
In less than a year, Team Carnage has proven to be top-class, placing 5th overall in just their second competition in May 2023. Their first competition was just in October of 2022, which, due to lacking access to practice materials, was essentially a dry run. Despite being a newly formed team, Team Carnage placed 10th. Then, seven months later during their second competition, they moved up the ranks to place 5th overall.
Captain Lunt and Team Carnage look forward to future competitions and continuing to enhance their extrication skills. While top placements in competitions are great, knowing that their skills can make a difference in life-threatening situations is the true reward.
Supporting the Firefighters Benevolent Association of Oakland Park
While the Firefighters Benevolent Association of Oakland Park strives to make a positive impact in the lives of citizens across the community, they can’t do it alone. Members pay regular dues and even go further by donating their own earnings toward individual causes, but donations from the community and local businesses could help take their mission to the next level.
The first Firefighters Benevolent Association of Oakland Park scholarship was funded entirely by generous donations from association members as well as newly appointed Commissioner Letitia Newbold. If you would like to contribute to future events and initiatives, including future scholarship opportunities for deserving students, contact Captain Christopher Lunt directly at (954) 240-2200. He is available Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM and can answer any of your questions about the donation process.