In Memorium

East Manatee Fire Rescue shows our respects to our fallen heroes, who put their lives on the line to better the community and ensure safety throughout our county.

Henry L. Sheffield

Fire Chief

Henry L. Sheffield
November 15, 1954 – December 12, 2019

It is with the heaviest of hearts and the deepest of regrets that we announce the passing of Henry Sheffield.  Henry was a 47 year veteran of the Florida Fire Service, a friend to many, and a huge advocate for education as well as the fire service. 

Henry liked to be challenged, so while attending Polk Community College he simultaneously was a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician (EMT) with the Highland City Volunteer Fire Department, now known as the Polk County Fire Rescue.  Henry graduated college with an Associate’s Degree in Fire Service.  He started working for the Polk County Property Appraisers’ Office, as well as working his way up the ladder in the fire department to eventually become Highland City Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief.

Henry wanted more and found a fire department looking to hire a Fire Chief.  In 1983, Braden River Fire Control District, now known as East Manatee Fire Rescue Control, hired their first paid Fire Chief, Henry Sheffield.  During his tenure with Braden River Fire Control District, he graduated from the Executive Fire Officers (EFO) program, received his Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administrations from Eckerd College, and other classes to enhance his knowledge.

He helped to form the first hazardous materials team and served as a team leader.  He was also involved with the Manatee County Arson Task Force, Manatee County Fire Mutual Aid Association, the Managerial Association of Emergency Services, Manatee County Fire Chiefs’ Association, Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association, International Association of Fire Chiefs’, National Fire Protection Association, Florida Forest Service “Red” Incident Management Team (IMT), Florida Emergency Management Division (IMT), and served as the Manatee County Fire Coordinator for the State Emergency Response Plan.  He received many local and state awards as well as many recognition during his career at Braden River, which is now known as East Manatee Fire Rescue Control.

In 2007, Henry accepted a position on staff at the Florida State Fire College (FSFC) in Ocala, Florida and retired from East Manatee Fire Rescue after 24 years of service.  In 2014, he returned to Manatee County and worked for the Manatee County School District as the Coordinator of the Fire Academy at Manatee Technical College (East Campus), until his passing.

Henry had an unwavering passion for what he did and a heart of gold.  He didn’t join the fire department for recognition or money, but joined it because he loved to help others and wanted to make a difference.  He taught so many people how to be a team member, what honor, loyalty, and respect meant.  He communicated how firefighters have an extended family with people they work with and that the brotherhood/sisterhood means more than most people think.  He taught customer service by doing the right thing and showing firefighters what customer service looked like.

Henry was a special person, one who could talk to you for hours about anything.  He founded so many positive programs and displayed so many examples for being a leader, a boss, and a friend.  He set the tone for our agency with traditions which are still honored today.  Henry was a man with a love for the fire department and all that it encompasses.  A man who was kind and loved to help.  Chief Henry Sheffield, you will be greatly missed by many!!

See links below:

East County Observer – Manatee County Community Mourns the loss of firefighter and educator Henry Sheffield

Henry L. Sheffield Obituary

Edward M. Wadlinger III


Firefighter Edward M. Wadlinger (1/13/75 – 11/28/17)

Ed was hired at the East Manatee Fire Rescue District in October 2005.  He advanced up the steps to Firefighter III and had completed the Supervisor Proficiency Program which allowed him to be in charge of a Fire Station in the absence of an officer.

Ed contracted cancer and in October 2015 retired from East Manatee after 10 years of service.

Ed succumbed to his illness November 28, 2017, as he approached the age of 43.

East Manatee has since taken great steps in cancer prevention and awareness with all employees.  Using Ed’s nickname, Wad, the District has created an acronym to help remind Firefighters on things they can do at the fire scene to minimize the risk of occupational cancer.

Every Firefighters helmet has a sticker with this acronym printed on it honoring Ed and serving as a constant reminder in the war against Firefighter Cancer.

Click here to read the Herald Tribune – Edward M. Wadlinger III



East Manatee and Southern Manatee Fire Rescue Districts are mourning the loss of Division Chief Richard E. Kirby who passed away on February 26, 2015. He was 86 years old. He was the current Chaplain of both the East Manatee and Southern Manatee Fire Rescue Districts in Bradenton Florida. He began his volunteer fire service career in 1982 with the Samoset Fire Department as a Fire Commissioner and Chaplain. In 1987, Rev. Kirby became the Chaplain at East Manatee and in 1990 became the Chaplain at Southern Manatee. In 2006, East Manatee Fire Rescue dedicated Station 5 in his honor to serve as a lasting tribute to such an admirable, dedicated, and respected man. He was also the Pastor of the Open Bible Tabernacle in Samoset until his retirement in 2008. Rev. Kirby will truly be missed. We know that he will continue to walk by our sides and live in our hearts!!


Fire Chief

Before coming to East Manatee, Russell J. Randolph began his firefighting career with the Manhasset-Lakeville Volunteer Fire Department Rescue Company 3 on Long Island, NY in 1979. In 1984, he moved to Bradenton, FL to work as a Dispatcher in the Manatee County Department of Public Safety. He then joined the Braden River Volunteer Fire Department (East Manatee Fire Rescue). Russell was promoted to Lieutenant in 1985 and made a Life Member of the Braden River Firefighters (East Manatee Benevolent) Association in 1990. Russell left East Manatee in 1990 when he was hired as a full-time Firefighter with the neighboring Southern Manatee Fire Rescue District. He worked on B Shift until he retired in 2001. Russell was a Forensic Photographer with the Manatee County Arson Task Force from 1985 to 1991. In 2011 he joined the volunteer Fire Department in Trailer Estates and became the Fire Chief in 2015. Russell was a member of the Manatee County Medical Reserve Corp, Suncoast FOOLS, Manatee County Fire Chiefs Association, International Association of Fire Chiefs, Manhasset-Lakeville Firefighters Benevolent Association, and the East Manatee Firefighters Benevolent Association. Russell became ill July 2016. He passed from this earth at 20:07 hours on Friday, October 14, 2016 at the age of 55.