Recruiting for new Fire Rescue PDRTP class underway

Bartow, Fla. (May 1, 2019) — Orientation was held this week for potential applicants for the 2019/20 Proactive Diversity Recruitment and Training Program (PDRTP). Since its inception in 2005, PDRTP has successfully brought more diversity to Polk County Fire Rescue through actively recruiting and training economically disadvantaged Polk County residents interested in a career as a first responder.

In 2005, Polk County employed 192 firefighters, of which only seven fulltime positions, about four percent, were minority personnel; four Hispanic, two Asian and one African-American male.  Polk’s Community Relations Advisory Council (CRAC) recommended to the Board that they adopt a program to improve Fire Rescue’s diversity to mirror the diversity of the county. The PDRTP was approved and developed to be a nine-month program that includes at least 24 weeks of emergency medical instruction, 485 hours of firefighter training and mentorship from former program graduates. The PDRTP students attend the same training and schooling as any other EMT, Firefighter and Paramedic student.

Recruits are trained through partnerships with Polk State College and Ridge Fire Academy. This May, the county will have three EMT and two firefighter PDRTP recruits graduating from Polk State College.

Today, Polk County Fire Rescue has grown to 551 personnel, with about 21 percent (113) being African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American. Since 2007, the PDRTP program has hired and trained 68 employees, of which 53 percent remain employed by Polk County.

“The Community Relations Advisory Council has been an integral partner in the success of the PDRTP,” said Katrina Lunsford, chair of the CRAC. “There are 36 first responders employed today in Polk County Fire Rescue that are graduates and ambassadors for this program, which provide vital services to the residents of Polk County.”

For information on selection for the PDRTP program, contact Sharon Mathis at or call (863) 534-6027.

Polk County Seal

The Polk County Board of County Commissioners is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer.

Polk County Board of County Commissioners