The Operations Division is responsible for managing all of the activities associated with the daily shift operations, including responses to emergencies, training, and delivery of emergency medical services (EMS). This division has the largest staffing with 3 battalion chiefs, 17 captains, 18 lieutenants, 15 driver-engineers, and 51 firefighters.
Our personnel's dedication to ensuring the safety of the residents of the cities of Margate and Coconut Creek has been evidenced in many ways. They work on a 24-hour shift schedule where they are away from their families from the start of the morning until the next day. There are a total of 3 shifts that rotate through the workweek to ensure minimum staffing at the 4 fire stations. Each member leaves behind a spouse, children, ailing parents or family pets to serve our cities. These same personnel leave their loved ones behind for several days or weeks at a time when a hurricane or other large scale event impacts our community.
Each shift is managed by a battalion chief who oversees the day-to-day operation of his respective shift. There are 5 captains that work under the direction of each battalion chief to supervise personnel on and off emergency scenes. Each captain is placed in charge of a fire engine or quint ("ladder truck"). In addition, the captain is placed in charge at each of the five fire stations.
There are also 18 lieutenants within our organization. They directly supervise a rescue crew during emergency medical calls for service. In addition, there are 15 driver-engineers that operate firefighting vehicles during a fire incident. With a total of 66 employees, our firefighters comprise the largest group of shift personnel. Every one of our personnel is cross-trained as a Certified Firefighter and either an Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic. 98% of our emergency services providers are certified paramedics, which is the highest level of out-of-hospital care. All of these levels report to their respective shift lieutenants.
Operations Division Chief
Division Chief Rick Donahue is currently assigned as Division Director for the Operations Division. Chief Donahue has 24 years of fire service experience, with the City of Margate Fire Department. As the Division Chief of Operations, he oversees the daily operations of the fire department, including Emergency Medical Services, Training & Professional Development as well as Accreditation. Chief Donahue also acts as the liaison between the fire department and the communications division of the Margate Police Department. Chief Donahue began his fire service career with Margate in 1988 as a Paramedic. During his first year, he completed his fire training at the Broward Fire Academy. He has served as a Lead Medic, Lieutenant, and as Battalion Chief.
Chief Donahue is a graduate of Broward College with an A.S. degree in Fire Science. He also holds a Bachelor degree in Health Services Administration from Florida Atlantic University. He was a past member of the department's Extrication Competition Team.
Chief Donahue is proud of outstanding work demonstrated every day by the dedicated men and women of the Margate Fire Department as they work together to provide high quality fire and EMS services to the citizens of Margate and Coconut Creek.
Shift Commander - A Shift
Batallion Chief Jeff Gary has served the citizens of Margate for 21 years and has been a resident for 18 of those. He has obtained a Master of Public Administration Degree from Florida Atlantic University as well as a Bachelor of Public Administration Degree from Barry University and an Associate of Fire Science Technology Degree from Broward College. Battalion Chief Gary has obtained the Executive Fire Officer (EFO) designation from the National Fire Academy and was only the 13th person internationally and the 2nd in Florida to obtain the Fire Officer (FO) designation from the Commission on Professional Credentialing. Gary also holds the State of Florida Fire Instructor III, Live Fire Training Instructor, Fire Inspector and Fire Investigator certifications. In addition, Chief Gary has been the Firefighter of the Month twice and received the Civilian Recognition Award from the Margate Police Department as well as the Distinguished Service Award from the State of Florida.
Shift Commander - B Shift
Batallion Chief Steven "Ty" Vassil began his firefighting experience in 1986 while serving in the United States Navy, aboard the USS Coral Sea. Chief Vassil served on 2 Mediterranean deployments as a rescue, firefighting and salvage team leader. Chief Vassil began his career as a firefighter-paramedic with Margate Fire Rescue in 1992; he worked his way through the ranks of the department and was promoted to Battalion Chief in 2004. Chief Vassil holds a Bachelor Degree from St. Thomas University in Organizational Leadership.
Shift Commander - C Shift
Battalion Chief Sheila T. Bennett has served The City of Margate/Coconut Creek Fire Rescue Department since 1987. She previously held the positions of EMTP, Firefighter/Paramedic, Field Training Officer, Rescue Supervisor, EMTP Driver Engineer, Fire Lieutenant, Fire Captain, Acting Battalion Chief, and currently holds the position of Battalion Chief. Bennett graduated from Saint Thomas University, Suma Cum Laude, in 2009, with a B.A. in Organizational Leadership. Bennett also received an A.S. degree in Fire Science from Broward College with High Honors. Battalion Chief Bennett is a state certified EMT, Paramedic, Firefighter, Fire Officer l, Fire Inspector l, Fire Investigator l, and Fire Service Instructor l. Bennett is a Broward County Certified Fire Inspector, and Fire Plans Examiner.
Battalion Chief Bennett, a native of Florida, began her career in 1979 as a EMT volunteer with Tri Area Volunteer Ambulance, Tropical Farms, Fl. and was employed in 1981 by Martin County Emergency Medical Services as an EMT Stuart, Fl. In 1984 Bennett attended and received Paramedic Certification from Boward County Community College, FT. Lauderdale Fl. while working for Atlantic Inter-City Ambulance Service in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. Bennett's passion and commitment has been serving the public for over thirty years, since beginning her career in 1979.