Fire Union President David Stevens named a Florida Hero


St. Johns County Professional Firefighters & Paramedics Association – IAFF Affiliate 3865 President David Stevens was recently honored by Gov. Ron DeSantis for being a Florida Hero. Stevens was among first responders, doctors, veterans, law enforcement, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, parents and innovators who have all exhibited bravery and self-sacrifice.

Stevens said, “I am honored for the recognition of the work we have done for firefighters and our department. This award represents the collaborative efforts of our commissioners, county administrator, fire chief and firefighters. Our team is working hard to assure St. Johns County is a model for the state of Florida. From our mental health initiatives to protecting our residents and visitors, St. Johns County is leading the way.”

Stephens was one of 75 heroes from across the state of Florida invited to the Governor’s Residence on April 26 to be recognized for their contributions to others and for exhibiting exceptional courage, compassion and resilience in the face of adversity.

Sarah Arnold, St. Johns County commissioner and chair, said, “David Stevens is the ultimate hometown hero. Under his tenure, he has relentlessly fought for the safety and well-being of the men and women in his department. Spearheading PFAS research to acquire safer uniforms, mending relationships to encourage collaboration with surrounding fire departments and working with the county commission to expand mental health resources for his team and their families are just a few of his accomplishments to date.”

Each hero had their story highlighted during a recognition ceremony and displayed throughout the Governor’s Residence.

Joy Andrews, county administrator, said, “I feel what really sets David apart is his unwavering commitment and perseverance to protect not just his people, but all fire rescue personnel in the state of Florida. In 2011, a catastrophic gas station explosion occurred in St. Johns County, prompting a joint response from St. Johns County Fire, City of St. Augustine Fire, as well as Jacksonville. While we were unbelievably lucky to have not lost any souls that day, as a result of the exposure to that fire, sadly that is no longer the case. While there is state statute covering presumptive disability coverage for cancer, there isn’t anything in place in state of Florida for presumptive disability coverage for the neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s, caused by exposure in the line of duty. Three other states have already passed legislation towards this goal, recognizing the gravity of this issue. David has championed this initiative, advocating and educating the community, working with our county commission, as well as the state Legislature to make them aware of the issues and work towards more studies that will undoubtedly lead to further protection for fire rescue personnel statewide.”

Commissioner Arnold added, “We are incredibly blessed in St. Johns County to have such a leader as David Stevens. He is not just my personal hero, but a hero for St. Johns County, and for all of Florida Fire Rescue as well.”