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Retired fire chief chosen for prestigious state award

WHITTIER — Chief Tracy Rickman, who retired as Río Hondo Fire Academy coordinator in 2019, will receive the California Community Colleges’ highest faculty honor in recognition of his service to students and colleagues.

The Hayward Award, established in 1989, is conferred annually by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges upon four faculty members statewide nominated by peers from their respective colleges. The award honors outstanding community college faculty who have a track record of excellence in teaching and in professional activities and who have demonstrated commitment to their students, profession and college.

Rickman helped lead and expand Río Hondo’s firefighter training academies and launched a cadet crew that battles California wildfires. He served the college for 22 years, training cadets to fight urban fires, wildland fires and serve as emergency medical technicians.

“Tracy is incredibly deserving of this award, which is the latest accolade in a career filled with recognition for excellent service not only to his students but also to our community,” Superintendent/President Dr. Arturo Reyes said. “Over the years, Tracy’s leadership became a hallmark of Río Hondo College.”

Rickman oversaw the refurbishment of the Fire Academy and the design and construction of the College’s Regional Homeland Security Training Center, for which he also assisted in securing federal appropriations. In 2001, he helped create Roadrunners Fire Crew 77, which is called up multiple times a year to aid the U.S. Forest Service fight wildfires.

Under Rickman’s watch, Río Hondo College has enjoyed a surge in cadet placements, with 100 percent of wildland cadets finding employment and a high percent of urban firefighters doing the same.

Rickman, who retired in December, will be honored with the award during the California Community Colleges Board of Governors meeting at 9 a.m. March 17 at the Chancellor’s Office in Sacramento.

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