Long-time Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District Engineer Shawn Brant was named deputy chief of the department Jan. 27. A "pinning" ceremony will be held soon.
Brant is a lifetime Lee County resident.
"I was born at Lee Memorial Hospital after my parents moved to Southwest Florida from Pennsylvania," Brant said. "My father had returned from serving in Vietnam and was looking for warmer weather than Myersdale, Pennsylvania."
Chief Ben Mickuleit and Deputy Chief Shawn Brant.
Growing up in Fort Myers, Brant always knew that if he couldn't be a baseball player he wanted to be a firefighter.
"I just liked the watching the trucks go down the road," Brant said.
In order to go to school, Brant had to work full-time and started fire academy in early 1999. Once the fire academy was completed, he started training as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) when he was offered a job with the Immokalee Fire Department in late 1999.
Brant spent one year with the Immokalee Fire Department when he heard about a job opening on Pine Island.
"When I heard about the availability of a job on Pine Island, I came out for an interview," Brant said. "I was lucky I dressed for the occasion because I was interviewed that day by Chief Bradley and all three captains."
For the last 17 years on Pine Island, Brant has served as a firefighter and then as an engineer and today, after 18 years with the Lee County fire department.
Brant is married with one 15-year-old son.
"I've known Ben Mickuleit since his first day here," Brant said. "Ben and I were on the same shift and on the same truck - Cap. Larimore's truck."
Mickuleit was promoted from firefighter and named deputy chief after Chief Bradley's retirement in March 2014.
"When the previous chief left, we all knew we would get a new chief," Brant said. "I supported Deputy Chief Mickuleit for chief in fact about 90 percent of the department supported Ben and showed up for a commissioners' meeting to speak up for Ben. We didn't want him to be overlooked just because he's younger than previous chiefs and we're all very supportive of him as our chief.
"Once Ben took over, things changed and there was a whole new direction for the department," Brant said. "Ben has an open door policy, high moral standards, everybody trusts him and he has a great work ethic. All of us know where he's going and now we all know where the department is going. My reason for even considering deputy chief is because I want to be a part of helping him take us where we want to go."
There were three people considered for the deputy chief job.
"Chief Mickuleit had each of the three candidates work for the job," Brant said. "Each candidate wrote a 'letter of intent' to accompany their resume. But the chief also had each of us to write a 5-year plan. Anyone serious about the job, and looking to the future, had a 5-year plan. I am very excited to be a part of Chief Mickuleit's team. I never thought I'd be on the administrative side of things, I like running calls, I like being with the public - that's what we're here for - we're here to serve the public."
"Shawn Brant brings years of dedication and experience to the position of deputy chief," Mickuleit said. "He has served the Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Control District for 17 years and he has been involved in numerous roles within the department. Along with his dedication to the department, he has continuously pursued higher education as well as professional development and certifications. Deputy Chief Brant is enthusiastic, energetic, and proud to serve the department and community in this new role. His experience, education, and fresh ideas will help guide the department for years to come."