She Has A Hot Career in Progress

By Amber Smith
The Ledger

HAINES CITY -- Angie Colon was too young to remember being in a house fire, but hearing about it growing up was one of the reasons she became a fire inspector.

Colon, 33, is Haines City Fire and Rescue's newest fire inspector. She started working for the city in April. She is paid $33,373 a year.

"I love it here," Colon, pronounced cologne, said. "It is a nice city. Everybody has made me feel welcome."

Colon, who is a native of New Jersey, was only about a year old when a candle that was burning in her bedroom caught the drapes on fire.

"My mother loved to burn candles and I guess she forgot it. I was saved by a firefighter," Colon said. "I love to burn candles and that makes my mom all paranoid. She's always saying I almost died that way."

Colon said as long as she can remember she has wanted to be a firefighter and emergency medical technician. While she was waiting to get into the fire academy, she went to school to be a fire inspector.

"Some of my friends told me I should look into being an inspector. By being an inspector I get to help prevent fires," Colon said.

Colon said she is enjoying her job and learning a lot from Deputy Chief Lonnie Large who, until she was hired, also doubled as the city's fire inspector.

"He knows everything about the buildings around here," Colon said. "He has all the information in his head. I don't know how he keeps it all straight."

Large said Colon is working out well.

"She's doing a good job," Large said. "She's learning a lot of things all at once."

The inspectors go out and inspect commercial businesses, schools and city buildings for possible fire hazards and to ensure state fire codes are being met. They will inspect a house if a resident requests an inspection.

"That is a service we will provide if they call the Fire Department and set one up," Large said.

Colon is also learning how to do pre-fire plans for the businesses around town.

A pre-fire plan is a diagram or drawing of the business showing where certain things are located such as entrances, electrical boxes and other important information the Fire Department needs to have should there be a fire.

It would also list the nearest hydrants and what is stored at the business, and if there is anything that could be a hazard in a fire.

Large and Colon will be spending two weeks inspecting the schools in Haines City.

Colon, who is now single and has two children -- an 11-yearold girl and a 7-year-old boy -said her children are impressed with her job at the Fire Department.

"They think it is pretty cool," Colon said. "They were really excited about it."

"They have their own hero living with them," Large said, smiling at Colon who shares the fire inspection office with him at the Fire Department.

Colon said she and Large work well together.

Even if the office does shake a little when the large ladder firetruck parked in the bay next to the office is started.

Amber Smith can be reached at amber.smith@theledger.com or 863-422-6800.