50 For 50: Station 18 - Badge 2000
Hillsborough County Fire Rescue bestowed badge No. 2000 to rookie Tyler Johns in Spring of 2023, a short 50 years after giving badge No. 1 to Wayne Garrett in 1973.
Johns grew up in Plant City where his father was a battalion chief, so he knew the importance of the number to which he would be assigned. During his training and orientation at HCFR, when the list came out and he saw his number would be 2000, he instantly knew it was special.
“Dang, that’s nice,” he told his classmates.
This story is part of Hillsborough County’s 50-for-50 Series, a historic review of some of the memorable events, dates, and people in the history of Hillsborough Fire Rescue, which was born on Aug. 27, 1973. Want to know more? Read additional stories that show the growth, bravery, and specialized operations of Hillsborough County’s largest department.
Two thousand badge numbers is a sign of HCFR’s growth – mirroring, or at least trying to keep up with Hillsborough County’s rapid population boom. From HCFR’s creation in 1973, it took 35 years to assign badge no. 1000 in 2008. From there, it took only 15 years to get from badge 1000 to badge 2000.
Badge 1,500 was given to firefighter Fire Medic Joshua Velarde only seven years ago in May of 2016.
Fire departments across the United States assign badge numbers differently. Some reserve lower numbers for chief-level positions. Others let second- or third-generation firefighters take their parent’s or grandparent’s number.
At Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, it’s as simple as the chronology of when you are hired. Fire Chief Dennis Jones is 1413 because that’s where the department was in the sequence when he came to the County.
One number, 911, was intentionally skipped in Hillsborough’s sequence to honor the firefighters who died rescuing New Yorkers on Sept. 11, 2001.
For Tyler Johns, the camaraderie of the fire service is exactly what he dreamed it would be when he was a boy. At 21, he is at the start of his career, but as the department grows, his number will seem low one day.