After five years as fire marshal for the city of Bradenton, David Dobrzykowski plans to tackle the role of fire chief in Lake County.
Friday marks the last day Dobrzykowski will call Bradenton home. On Monday, the 44-year-old will be working north of Orlando as the first fire chief for the city of Minneola's fire department.
"I'm looking forward to it," Dobrzykowski said Wednesday. "It's a new city with new challenges. It's exciting to be part of a fire department in its infancy."
During his stint in Bradenton, Dobrzykowski was more than just the city fire marshal. A medical coordinator and spokesman for the Bradenton Fire Department, he also used his experience as a fire inspector in Pinellas County to help Bradenton firefighters solve a string of arsons several years ago.
Bradenton Fire Chief Mark Souders said Dobrzykowski played a significant role when the agency charted its plan to become an internationally accredited agency. It gained its accreditation - one of only 96 agencies in the world to receive it - in August, according to Herald archives.
"He's very friendly. He's cooperative, and he's a team builder," Souders said. "I'm sure he would do well in any position he seeks."
Like many young boys, Dobrzykowski was intrigued by the sirens and fire trucks. With a relative as a firefighter, Dobrzykowski said he knew what he wanted to be.
"That's where my passion was at that time, and I guess that's where it still is after all these years," he said.
Born in Baltimore, Dobrzykowski grew up in a small town near Annapolis, Md., and became an emergency medical technician when he was 16, while still attending high school. At 18, he became a paramedic and eventually a firefighter.
In 1989, he moved to Pinellas County and joined the Palm Harbor Fire Department as a firefighter and fire inspector. With a move just north of Jacksonville, he became deputy chief fire marshal with the city of Fernandina Beach.
He moved to Bradenton in 2000 and became the fire marshal.
Dobrzykowski's wife, Linda, daughter, Ashley, and son, Michael, both 14, will join him in Minneola.
Looking back, Dobrzykowski said he's proud of his vocation.
"I've enjoyed every minute of it," he said. "I have a passion to help people."
Distributed by the Associated Press