Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Gala Winner:
Firefighter of the Year – Donald Klouse
Engineer Donald Klouse of the Apopka Fire Department was named Firefighter of the Year at the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual Gala event held at the Highland Manor Friday.
“This award is reflective of all the characteristics and traits that embody the essence of what a career firefighter and emergency responder possess,” said AFD Chief Chuck Carnesale in a speech at the event. “All fire department members are witness to courageous acts of valor, emotional moments of empathy, the outstanding deliverance of leadership, and generous acts of kindness. This year the member that has encompassed so many of these characteristics is Engineer Donald Klouse.”
Klouse started his career of service in 1974 with the US Navy serving for 20 years, and retiring as a Chief Petty Officer after an exceptional career which included his last tour on a US Naval Nuclear Submarine. In wanting to continue his service in a different capacity, he chose to enter into the EMS and Fire Service as a second career as an emergency responder.
In 1995, Klouse was hired by the AFD, and he quickly was seen as an asset to the community. Later in 1998, he was promoted to the rank of Engineer surpassing others during an exam which is considered to be the most comprehensive promotional exam in the fire service. Several years later in aspiring to continue his growth and educational desires, he successfully completed the rigorous 12-month long Paramedic Program.
But away from the AFD, Klouse has another side.
His commitment to local organizations during times of needs has proven to be an example for others to follow. He can oftentimes be seen donating his personal time at local food banks and has made himself available for many years during civic events at a moment’s notice. He even dressed as Santa Clause this past Christmas and delivered gifts to all of the patients at Sunbelt Health and Rehab Center here in Apopka. Each Christmas he will purchase several bicycles for less fortunate children, assuring that in a small way he can help put a smile on their face. These actions have been occurring for many years and are unsolicited, and just something that brings joy to him and his family.
“Engineer Klouse has been a valued member of this department and I could spend much more time describing all his other accomplishments, yet it was never his style to brag,” said Carnesale. “Don Klouse has shown his family, members of the community, and his fellow firefighters exactly what determination and strong will can produce.”