Dangerous and exhausting can only describe the past few months for Collier County fire fighters and residents as wildfires consumed our wild lands and forced evacuations. In addition, smoke has consumed our air and lingered for days after each fire; a burden our residents bare.

Since February, our County has seen fires that have not been present for decades. Two fires, the Lee Williams Road and 30th Avenue fires, ripped through more than 14,000 acres of land in Collier County. In addition to these large fires, our community has witnessed dozens of small to medium sized brush fires in every District. Due to the dry conditions and winds, a burn ban is in place for Collier, Lee and Hendry counties.

As a District, we want to say thank you to our community for the continued support and understanding as evacuations force you from your homes and smoke lingers on your property. The residents of Collier County have gone above and beyond in demonstrating to our crews their thankfulness. In emergencies, you drive across town to deliver Gatorade, water, food and snacks to keep our crews hydrated and fueled. On each scene, we witness how much you care for our men and women in uniform; this letter is for you. We appreciate the support. We do not drive by without noticing the signs along the roadway that say ‘thank you’ or the notes left on social media cheering us on. It is an honor to meet you at the grocery store; your handshake and kinds words go a long way. It keeps our morale high when we are tired and our crews focused in emergency. You have been good to us. As we walk into the walls of fire to battle the blaze, we can look back and know Collier County is standing behind us.

· To the fire districts responding from beyond our local boundaries, we thank you.  This includes Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, Glades, Manatee, Highlands, Sarasota, Miami-Dade, Volusia, Osceola, Seminole Tribe, Pinellas and Orange counties.
· To our other first responder partners, we thank you. This includes the Florida Forestry Service, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office (including Agriculture, Traffic and Aviation divisions), Collier County EMS and the Cities of Naples, Marco Island and Seminole Tribe police departments.
· To our local organizations, churches, civic groups donating their time and exhaustive efforts, we thank you. This includes Living Word Family Church, St. Agnes Catholic Church, American Red Cross-South Florida Region and The Salvation Army of Collier County.
· To our local shops and restaurants supplying everything from food to baby wipes, from big box and mom-and-pop establishments, we thank you. This includes Walmart, Publix, McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and dozens of pizza shops.
· To our North Collier Fire CERT volunteers, we thank you.  You respond without hesitation whenever called. Our District is so proud to have your assistance in times of emergency.
· And, to the hundreds of unnamed citizens and neighbors, we thank you. Your support is unmatched.

For all of this, we thank of you.
The Board of Fire Commissioners
North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District