ESCAMBIA COUNTY, Fla. (WKRG) — Escambia County Fire Rescue announced that Captain Joel Richardson has been named the 2022 Instructor of the Year by the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association.

The Florida Rapid Intervention Training Operations Group, a training organization instructing the FFCA since 2012, has been recognized for the award alongside Captain Richardson.

Richardson joined ECFR in October 2009. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2012 and to captain in September 2022. Since then, ECFR said he has served as the Training/Safety Captain for ECFR in the training division. He has been a member of the Florida RIT Operations Group since its inception in 2012 and ECFR said he has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to training and mentoring firefighters in Escambia County and the state of Florida.

“The recognition of Captain Richardson at this level is an attestation of the hard work on and off duty that the men and women of ECFR put in every day to serve the citizens and visitors of Escambia County,” Fire Chief Jason Catrambone said. “Congratulations to Captain Richardson and the Florida RIT Operations Group.”

Each year, the Florida RIT Operations Group holds a competition throughout the state to reemphasize the basic Rapid Intervention Team elements of saving firefighters when in trouble or trapped. These skills include search and rescue, victim removal, radio communications, command and control, and aspects of firefighter survival. Members of Escambia County Fire Rescue are part of Florida RIT Operations Group and participate in the annual Fire Rescue EAST Conference in Daytona Beach, Fla. 

“Escambia County Fire Rescue is fortunate to have such a great team as part of the organization and having three of our officer staff receiving awards is a testament to the great leaders we have,” Deputy Fire Chief Paul Williams said. “The entire organization is made up of men and women dedicated to the fire service and top-notch professionals.” 

Richardson’s and the Florida RIT Operations Group’s recognition continues a streak of honors for ECFR. On Dec. 13, 2022, ECFR’s Lt. Nick Gradia was recognized as the 2022 Professional Firefighter of the Year by the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office. Shortly after that, ECFR’s Assistant District Chief Yoshimi Core was named the 2022 Volunteer Fire Officer of the Year by the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association. 

Richardson and the Florida RIT Operations Group were formally recognized during a ceremony at Fire-Rescue EAST in Daytona Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 18.