TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Chief Tom Forward as the 46th Lightning Community Hero this season during the first period of Game 1 versus the Boston Bruins. Forward, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to Friends of Tampa Firefighters Inc., Big Brothers Big Sisters Inc., Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Men of Vision and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women Inc.
Chief Forward began his career with Tampa Fire Rescue in 1983 and put in more than 30 years of dedicated service. He worked his way up the ranks and was named Chief in 2010. As the head of Florida's third largest fire department, Chief Forward's long list of accomplishments includes building three new fire stations, as well as the Fallen Firefighters Memorial and providing response services for MacDill Air Force Base. He has also been an integral part of executing large-scale events throughout our community. Chief Forward successfully led the activation of the Emergency Operation Center during Super Bowl XLIII, the activation for Hurricane Irma and more.
Earlier this month, Chief Forward announced his retirement effective May 20th. He will leave behind a legacy of building Tampa Fire Rescue into one of the best in America. Mayor Buckhorn said of his retirement, "Tom Forward has served his country and his city with honor and dignity for decades. His calm demeanor and commitment to the men and women he led and served will be missed but he is leaving the department better than he found it."
Chief Tom Forward becomes the 317th Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $15.95 million to more than 400 different nonprofits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. During the summer of 2016, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.