Local man named Florida Forestry Firefighter of the Year

David Dietz (right) has been named 2017 Florida Forestry Firefighter of the Year. Here, Dietz is pictured with Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam (left.)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam and Florida State Forester Jim Karels announced Tuesday that Senior Forest Ranger David Dietz is the 2017 Forestry Firefighter of the Year.

Dietz has served as a wildland firefighter with the Florida Forest Service since September 2006, and he is currently the lead training officer for the Chipola Forestry Center.

Forest Service officials wrote in a news release that "Dietz strives to improve himself and his colleagues through strong leadership and initiative."

“Our wildland firefighters risk their lives to protect our residents and the wildlife that make Florida a special place to live,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam. “I congratulate David on being named the 2017 Forestry Firefighter of the Year.”

“David’s dedication to the safety of Floridians is unrivaled, and I am honored to recognize his exemplary service with the Florida Forest Service,” said Florida State Forester Jim Karels.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” said Dietz. “The Florida Forest Service has been a great to me and my family but more than that, I have made some lifelong friends that we now consider as family.”

Dietz joined the Forestry Service in 2006. After eight years in Gulf County, he transferred to the Marianna Forestry Station in Jackson County and was promoted to Senior Forest Ranger.

According to a news release, Dietz helped reshape how the Florida Forest Service prepares young firefighters for Basic Fire Control Training after becoming certified as a wildland firefighter, emergency medical responder and structure firefighter one. Dietz seeks input for classes needed, both internal and external, and often works weekends to facilitate training for local fire departments.

As the District Training Officer Dietz transformed the Chipola training program into what it has become today according to his colleagues. Since he began as DTO, Dietz has instructed over 1300 firefighters from the Florida Forest Service, Department of Defense, USFS, Department of Environmental Protection, and Structure Fire Departments for over 16,537 man hours.

The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests.

The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.