Meet the Firefighter/EMT: Ken Craft now a full-time fire/EMS lieutenant in Glades County

Posted 10/28/20

Kenneth Craft brought an impressive has taken on a full-time role at the Glades County Public Safety Department.

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Meet the Firefighter/EMT: Ken Craft now a full-time fire/EMS lieutenant in Glades County


MOORE HAVEN — Kenneth Craft brought an impressive list of credentials with him when he joined but now has taken on a full-time — and more full as well as fulfilling — role at the Glades County Public Safety Department.

Asked for a short biographical description of his travels in his career, Craft said: “I began my career as a volunteer firefighter and then became a career firefighter/EMT/paramedic, and worked up through the ranks to assistant chief. I’ve been working in fire/Emergency Medical Services agencies, at the local and state level, including in training, operations, special operations and management.

“I spent 19 years in the local/state/federal Urban Search and Rescue System, serving as a program manager and task force leader. I also served as the lead instructor for Edison Community College EMT/Paramedic program (in Fort Myers) for 16 years.”

Over the long term, Lt. Craft has earned a slew of recognitions of his educational achievements. “I have a master’s degree in public administration, bachelor’s degrees in professional studies and human resources management and two associate’s of science degrees, in fire administration and emergency medical services.”

An Indiana native, born and raised with an unmistakable Midwestern accent — but a Floridian by residency since 1979 or ’80 — Craft’s education has served him well. He’ll tell you that public safety and service are a passion for him, but one of the bigger parts of his life — the service — is rooted in personal experiences he’d rather not go into fully.

Glades County Public Safety Director Angela Snow explained that Craft started out for a while as a part-time emergency medical technician for the department’s EMS and then became full-time when Lt. Teresa Summeralls retired over this past summer.

“We moved him to fire in late August to be the fire lieutenant for better fire structure and accountability over all fire operations,” Snow said.

Up until just a few years ago, Lt. Craft financed, owned and operated Whispering Pines Clydesdales for over 16 years. It’s a Bonita Springs- and then North Fort Myers-based limited liability corporation formed in 2011; since Oct. 1 it’s been listed as an inactive LLC.

Its mission was to provide emotional therapeutic experiences to children and adults with physical disabilities; children and adults with special needs; terminally ill children; senior adults living in full nursing and assisted living facilities; and Hope Hospice muscular dystrophy, burn, autism, cancer and other related camps and programs for children and adults. Based on a farm, the company also was a licensed and insured provider of registered show Clydesdale horses and became in great demand after Craft and his partners assembled an entire Budweiser-style ensemble of the team of Clydesdales pulling the beer wagon.

“We got one Clydesdale (at first) and got a carriage and at Christmastime, we started to do rides around the neighborhood, and it was a major hit. We’ve had people come from all over Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties, and we would have them come down on a Christmas carriage ride for a half-hour to 45 minutes … so I ...” Craft trailed off and audibly welled up a bit with emotion.

“So then, my son and I got the idea, why don’t we take the Clydesdale horse and the carriage into the hospitals for the terminally ill and sick children?”

He got in touch with some like-minded connections and friends in those counties plus Hendry County, and together they made it happen. Over a number of years, they established a full team of Clydesdales.

“Overnight, that just exploded and it turned into us taking the Clydesdales and carriage” into many of those facilities such as listed above. “We started being asked and going into the public and private schools for the emotionally and physically challenged children, started getting more Clydesdales, doing things with Budweiser because it’s a small world with Clydesdales in the country, so we became very good friends. But then when the word gets out that you’ve got six show Clydesdales, people want you. So we started doing shows everywhere, in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin.”

The Whispering Pines Clydesdales have become a very popular team over the years. Craft said he had to sell much of the farm recently due to personal challenges, but Whispering Pines Clydesdales’ charitable spirit lives on in the former volunteers with the organization, who since he left have continued to operate it in a scaled-back manner from its heyday. Jessica Chadwick and company out of LaBelle, “she pretty much took it over,” Craft said.

His main motivation for becoming a firefighter, Craft said, was just that he had his sights set as a young man desiring to serve as a paramedic. “You go in being a firefighter/paramedic and that’s how I started, and I just went and got my training.”

In working for the multi-agency Urban Search and Rescue System, Craft spent many years in “traveling all over the country, setting up systems, writing protocols, doing training, you name it.”

With his background in public safety with an emphasis on the service aspect, Craft fits in like a puzzle piece at the Glades County Public Safety Department, said Director Snow. “He has done an amazing job helping get fire operations (set up) for the full-time crews and our volunteers,” she stated, calling him a major asset to the crew.

Kenneth Craft, firefighter, meet