We are proud to introduce you to Cape Coral hero Heather Mazurkiewicz.
Heather was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, and moved here to Cape Coral 17 years ago after she transferred here to take a management position with Brown & Brown just before her 30th birthday. She and her husband Joe have a 9 year old daughter, Mia. Heather also has 4 “bonus” daughters: Mara Rose, a teacher of Edison Park Elementary; Mandi Wade, a midwife with Lee Memorial; Rachel Wylie, a school counselor at Mirror Lakes Elementary; and Rebecca Henry, a teacher at Cypress Lake High School. Her sons in laws are teachers, a firefighter and pharmacy tech. They also have 6 grandsons, Owen, Logan, Matthew, Gavin, Grant and Reid whom is still waiting to make his grand entrance into the world, and 2 granddaughters, Rylee and Carter.
Heather and Joe also have a female American bulldog mix who rescued by members of the Cape Coral Fire Department from a concrete canal drainage pipe. “We named her Leu…short for Lieutenant.”
Heather’s passion began with a life changing event on December 11, 2013. “I won the opportunity to ride along with the Cape Coral Fire Department through a Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce function. I came home that night and told my husband, I want to be a firefighter, I need to be a part of that, it’s where I am supposed to be.” Three months later she left her CEO position with the Building Industry Association of Lee, Hendry and Glades Counties and entered into the Fire Academy at 44 years young. The next closest in age was 17 years younger! “I loved almost every moment of the fire academy and I am very proud that I was the first and only (to this date) female Class President. I am Certified Firefighter and Licensed EMT (emergency medical technician.)”
Heather wears several hats. She is the Volunteer Coordinator for the Cape Coral Fire Department Emergency Management Division. “My duties include the coordination and promotion of our CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams) and our Community CPR program.” Each class teaches individuals not just the skills necessary to protect and/or save themselves, their family members and neighbors, but they instill the confidence to perform those skills under the circumstances that typically encompass these situations. “I believe the level of confidence that we instill in our participants is what sets our programs apart from any other. I am very proud to be granted the opportunity to work for a Department filled with compassionate and competent professionals like those at the Cape Coral Fire Department.”
Heather is also the Assistant Director for the Florida Division of the Firefighter Cancer Support Network. “My responsibilities are to assist with the education of the fire profession regarding the steps they can take as individuals and as departments to protect them and limit their exposures to the carcinogens founds in modern day smoke.” She fields phones calls from firefighters who have received a cancer diagnosis, whether retired or still on the job. “We put them together with firefighter mentors who have the same cancer and relate to the stresses of being a firefighter and now being a firefighter with cancer; it is one of the greatest services we provide.”
Heather founded the Florida Cancer Presumption Coalition, an organization whose only purpose is to advocate for Cancer Presumption Legislation in the State of Florida. Currently 38 other states have some form of Cancer Presumption legislation, but Florida does not “and I find it criminal. We ask firefighters to go into the deadliest of situations and as firefighters we do it, without hesitation, but if we are diagnosed with cancer as a result of those conditions, the State of Florida does not assist with covering our medical expenses, lost wages for treatment and, if a firefighter passes away from cancer, there are no death benefits for the firefighter’s family. This simply is unacceptable.” Heather was very lucky to have a strong legislative background prior to entering the fire profession, and this played an integral part in having legislation filed in the 2016 Legislative Session. “The legislation never made it out of its first committee due to some political games, but it was a start, and I foresee us being successful during the 2017 Legislative session.”
There isn’t anything she loves more than riding the engine, being at the firehouse and assisting the citizens whenever they call. “I am a volunteer firefighter with the Bayshore Fire Rescue Department. As a volunteer with Bayshore, you are expected to put in 24 hours (the equivalent to one shift) a month and attend monthly training sessions. Even with my schedule, I try to be at the station once a week for a complete 24 hour shift. My Chief, Larry Nisbit, has very high expectations of paid staff and of his volunteer crew and we all work very hard to live up to those expectations, not just for him but for the community we serve. Chief Nisbit says, “When we pull up on a scene whether it’s a fire or a medical call our customers (the community) do not know if you are paid or volunteer, they just expect assistance quickly, compassionately and professionally” and that is exactly what we deliver.”
“There are literally days when I am at the station and look around and can’t believe I am part of all this, my heart swells with immense pride as I know I am home….I am where I belong.”
Thank you, Heather, for your dedication and devotion to the City of Cape Coral and its residents. You are our Hometown Hero!