Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles published by The Apopka Voice in 2018 that were the most noteworthy events of the year. The Apopka Voice will publish them starting today and running until Sunday, December 30th. On December 31st and January 1st, we will publish a poll and let the readers decide on which story is the most impactful of the year.
Originally published September 18th, 2018
By Apopka Fire Chief Chuck Carnesale
Apopka’s Firefighter of the year is Paramedic/Engineer Justin Joseph. Justin joined the fire department in August of 2009 as an EMT/firefighter. He earned his paramedic certification in 2012 and just last year, was promoted to the rank of Engineer.
Engineer Joseph helps to coordinate the AFD’s Special Operations Team in which he is one of the team leaders. The special ops team was formed just this past year and is responsible for responding to all incidents which would be beyond the normal everyday responses of the fire department, such as vehicle entrapments, high angle rescues, confined space rescues, hazardous materials incidents and the like. Justin helped design, write, and implement the specifications for this team and Apopka is among just a handful of agencies in Central Florida with such a specialized team.
Justin is a member of the fire departments’ firefighter combat challenge team which is a group of firefighters who compete against other agencies in various firefighting skills and challenges. Justin also competes in the Pensacola Beach firefighter challenge where the competition is actually performed on beach sand making the competition even harder. He travels to New York City to participate in the 9/11 memorial stair climb where Apopka firefighters climb 75 floors in remembrance of those 343 FDNY firefighters lost that day trying to make it up to the top floors of the World Trade Center. Each firefighter climbs with the picture ID of a New York City firefighter lost on 9/11.
Just recently, Justin participated in the American Lung Association’s, “Fight for Air” climb in Orlando which consisted of firefighters climbing the 25 floors of the Bank of America building in their full firefighting gear and air pack. Justin took overall first place and had the fastest time.
Not only is Justin an amazing athlete, but he’s also a mentor and leader for all the new firefighters and a lead instructor for a course called Firefighter Survival. This is an invaluable course we’ve made mandatory for all new firefighters. It teaches them how to react in the event they should become trapped or lost while fighting a fire or searching for trapped victims, in a building fire. Teaching them to remain calm, search for alternative escape routes and exits and practicing their breathing techniques while still wearing their self-contained breathing apparatus. These techniques may just keep them alive in time for a rescue crew to locate the downed firefighter.
For all these reasons mentioned, I am proud to present to you, Apopka’s Firefighter of the Year, Justin Joseph!