Tampa Fire Rescue Chief Tom Forward Announces His Retirement

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After nearly 35 years with Tampa Fire rescue, Chief Tom Forward today announced that he is retiring. Chief Forward’s last day will be May 20.

In a letter to Mayor Bob Buckhorn announcing his retirement Forward wrote, “My initial plan when I was appointed Fire Chief was to retire in 2015, however, as projects were identified and job challenges were presented, I stayed to see those through.”

Chief Forward was originally appointed by Buckhorn’s predecessor Pam Iorio in 2010 when the city was still in the midst of dealing with the effects of the Great Recession. “In the face of some of the most extreme budget [issues], we accomplished a tremendous amount,” Forward wrote. “Thank you for the honor of serving these three and a half decades and as your fire chief these past eight years. May God continue to bless this great city, its leadership and to keep you all safe.”

“Tom Forward has served his country and his city with honor and dignity for decades,” said Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “Tampa Fire Rescue is known as one of the premier fire rescue agencies in the country; and as a direct result of Chief Forward’s leadership the bar has been set even higher. His calm demeanor and commitment to the men and women he led and served with will be missed but he is leaving the department better than he found it.”

Some of the notable accomplishments achieved during Chief Forward’s tenure:


  • TFR has kept every fire station opened and fully staffed with four person crews on all critical fire apparatus.
  • TFR re-established its In-Service Training Program and Medical Skills Lab Program employing a highly proficient part-time staff thus reducing operational cost of this program.
  • Achieved on its initial attempt TFR’s five-year International Accreditation Status through the Center of Public Safety Excellence from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. Re-accredited in 2015 for an additional five years through year 2020.
  • Established TFR’s 501(c)3, Friends of Tampa Firefighters, Inc. Non-Profit Charity to enhance community awareness, participation, and to support educational opportunities for firefighters.
  • Installed and Dedicated Tampa Fire Rescue’s Fallen Firefighters Memorial.
  • Purchased TFR’s first Tactical Support Unit for mobile command enhancement and to support large scale incident command postures.
  • Built and opened  Fire Station #22 in New Tampa.
  • Relocated and built new Fire Station #11 on Waters Ave. serving the Lowry Park area.
  • Relocated and built new Fire Station #19 on Interbay Blvd. serving SouthTampa.
  • Major Station and facility renovations to HQ’s Fire Station #1 to include, roof, vehicle ramps, lighting, HVAC, drainage system, and landscape.
  • Major facility upgrades of Fire Station #4 HVAC, station roof replacement and complete station window replacements.
  • Major facility upgrade of HVAC system at Fire Station #13.
  • Major facility upgrade of sewer lines and HVAC System at Fire Station #14.
  • Worked collaboratively with the community and the 13 Ugly Men, Inc. organization to perform a total remodel of Fire Station #6, Tampa’s oldest station.
  • Enhanced the Fire Prevention Bureau’s Arson Investigations Division by aligning the division with Tampa Police Department’s Homicide Investigations Unit to better afford a more robust investigations platform and avail the unit to additional tools and resources.
  • Upgraded the Fire Prevention Bureau’s Inspections Division with the purchase and implementation of Inspection Software Mobile-Eyes and new Panasonic CF-20 tablets and printers for all Inspection personnel.
  • Placed into service two “peak-duty” rescue cars to enhance response capabilities in the face of increased call service volume and constrained budget resources.
  • Added an additional two-person ARFF Medical Response Unit at Tampa International Airport.
  • Entered into a Contract with MacDill A.F.B to provide full emergency medical response and transport services exclusively for the base. The Agreement is the first of its kind in the Department of Defense.
  • Implemented a formal performance standards program to enhance a more focused development posture for personnel seeking promotion to the ranks of Driver/Engineer, Rescue Lieutenant, Fire Captain, and District Fire Chief.
  • Enhanced problematic field radio communications by purchasing and assigning a Bi-Directional Antenna Amplification System to Chief Officers responding to problem areas.
  • Re-aligned the department’s fire districts, establishing a new Fire District #5 in New Tampa improving response capabilities throughout the district and the department.
  • Achieved for the first time in the department’s history an upgraded Insurance Service Organization (ISO) rating of “2” which is and upgrade from the previous ISO rating of “3” held for decades.
  • Installed privacy partition walls in the dorms of all fire stations.
  • Implemented to TFR Rescue Division’s First Assessment Stabilization Team (FAST) bike medics for rapid response during major special events.
  • Implemented Tampa Fire Rescue’s Florida Infectious Disease Transport Network Team to handle and manage identified patient transports.

For additional information, please contact:

Ashley Bauman, Marketing & Communications Director

(813) 274-8262