The Kissimmee Fire Department, and the entire firefighting community, lost one of its finest on May 16, 2013. Lt. William “Bill” Manning was riding his motorcycle to a meeting for the Local 4208 Union, when he was struck and killed at an intersection. Lt. Manning has been described numerous times as a “firefighter’s firefighter,” who lived for the job.
Lt. Manning became a firefighter in the U.S. Airforce. He joined the Air Force in 1992, right after graduation from High School. Upon completion of Air Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base Texas, he was assigned to Chanute Air Force Base in Illinois were he enrolled and completed the United States Air Force Fire Protection course. Upon completion of the course, Bill was reassigned to K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in late 1992. Bill was assigned to the 410th Civil Engineer Squadron at K. I. Sawyer
AFB were he was an Apprentice Firefighter and Journeyman Firefighter. During his time at K.I. Sawyer Bill quickly became known as an expert and leader, and was recognized for his contributions, earning a promotion from "Below-The-Zone" to Senior Airman, six months ahead of his peers. He was reassigned to the 314th Civil Engineering Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base Arkansas in August 1995. While stationed at Little Rock, Bill was deployed to Saudi Arabia. During that deployment Bill was instrumental in the recovery of personnel from the terrorist attack on Khobar Towers (6/25/96) in which 19 Air Force personnel lost their lives and 498 personnel were wounded. While off-duty and having received injuries himself, Bill personally recovered three personnel who were mortally wounded and assisted with the care of numerous others. His actions earned him the Air Force Commendation with Valor. Bill stayed at Little Rock until he separated from the active Air Force in 1999. While in the Air Force Reserves Bill was promoted to Staff Sergeant and assigned to the Connecticut Air National Guard, Virginia Air National Guard and the 125th Fighter Wing of the Florida Air National Guard. In 2004, Bill separated from the Air Force Reserves with an Honorable Discharge. Bill's Military decorations include two Air Force Achievement Medals and an Air Force Commendation Medal with Valor.
After Bill left the military, he continued his career as a firefighter, which eventually led him to Kissimmee, FL with his wife Kerri. In September of 2012 Bill was promoted to Lieutenant. He has worked on engines and trucks, was a paramedic and engineer, and a key member of various specialized Rescue teams such as the KFD Special Operations Team that provides High Angle, Trench, Confined Space and Hazardous Material operations. He also served with the Florida Urban Search and Rescue Team as a technical rescue Specialist.
Training firefighters was Lt. Manning's passion and legacy. He was a senior Kissimmee Fire Department instructor responsible for providing all of the fire-based training required by departmental new hires, and has traveled throughout the state teaching fire related courses. The Lieutenant’s training expertise was not limited to the department he worked for; he also taught as an Instructor at the Central Florida Fire Academy and was the VMR (Vehicle and Machinery Rescue) Program Director at the school. He also taught RIT (Rapid Intervention Team) classes all across central and south Florida. He was a firm believer in the Fire Service tradition of Officers leading by example and mentoring their crew. During his many years with the City of Kissimmee Fire Department, Lt. Manning touched the lives of thousands of firefighters across Florida & the country. He was the driving force behind the city’s training programs, developing classes and lesson plans to teach other firefighters how to keep themselves, and the public, safe. Almost every firefighter in the department can say that they received significant training from Lt. Manning. In addition to his work in educating and training other firefighters, Lt. Manning was deeply involved in charity work. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Leatherheads (FOOLS), an organization that routinely helps out organizations in the central Florida area and was a member of the Central Florida Task Force, who responds as a technical rescue team to disasters around the country. Lt. Manning was also committed to helping out his own brothers/sisters in the fire department. He spent much of his free time organizing charity events for those within his department who had fallen on bad times.
It is in the spirit of Lt. Bill Manning's love & passion for the fire service that we continue his legacy through the Lt. Bill Manning Foundation.