Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, left, sits next to David Richardson as he
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Richardson recognized for 47 years with fire department

Jimmy Patronis reads proclamation in longtime fire chief’s honor

David Richardson remembers the humble beginnings of the Gulf County Beaches Volunteer Fire Department — a leaking structure and a rusty fire truck. 

Now, 47 years later, as he steps down from being the department’ fire chief, he described GCBVFD and those who work there as a “pride and joy.”

“When we first started, we had a used fire truck from the City of Port St. Joe, and you wanted to get a tetanus shot before you got in it,” he joked as he looked out at dozens who had gathered Monday morning to celebrate his years of service. “Our so-called Fire Station was lean-to down the street here, and I believe you stayed dryer out in the rain than you did under it. That’s what we started with.” 

Beaches became the county’s 11th volunteer fire department when it opened in the 1970s to service the St. Joe Beach area. Richardson became the department’s chief in 1981.

“I went off to school, got married and came back here and got a job, and the community was working to form a fire department,” Richardson told The Star. “And I just said ‘How can I ask others to do something if I don’t do it myself?’”

Since Richardson helped get Beaches off the ground, it has become one of the county’s largest and most advanced departments.

According to those present, the department’s growth happened, in large part, because of Richardson’s nearly five decades of effort.

“David Richardson has dedicated 47 years of his life to the protection and safety of the citizens of Gulf County, Florida, through selfless act and dedication and sacrifice and leadership,” read a proclamation from Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who was present at Richardson’s celebration. 

“… Richardson has served as a fire chief of Gulf County Beaches Volunteer Fire Department, devoting his life to the protection of the people and properties of his community.”

In addition to serving as GCBFVD’s chief, Richardson also spent time on Gulf County’s Planning Committee and the Gulf County Planning and Review Board — accomplishments Patronis was sure to point out.

“Chief Richardson’s actions on the Gulf Planning Committee and the Gulf County Planning and Review Board were instrumental in securing and improving a water system for his community and implementing protective standards. And the community grew and developed,” the CFO said.

But though the crowd had gathered to celebrate the fire chief’s accomplishments, Richardson said he couldn’t comfortably take all the credit.

“You’ve said you’re honoring me today, but I’ll tell you what. It’s not me. It’s all of y’all,” he said, pointing out his fellow volunteers in the audience. “… It’s not a one man show.”

“… Thank you all for this day. It’s been a privilege.”

Bobby Plair was named GCBVFD’s new chief.