Redlands Fire Capt. Richard Sessler has been named the department's Firefighter of the Year for 2012, a city spokesman announced Monday.
In August and September, Sessler was assigned to the North Pass Fire in the Mendocino National Forest, north of Sacramento and Santa Rosa, according to the city of Redlands.
Sessler's "ability to coordinate and lead firefighters on an extremely stubborn timber fire in tremendously difficult terrain was noted by his branch director," Redlands Fire Chief Jeff Frazier said in a statement. "His actions and leadership saved multiple residences and thousands of acres of precious watershed."
The North Pass Fire was started by lightning and it scorched more than 41,000 acres between Aug. 18 and Sept. 18, according to the Forest Service.
Sessler’s current supervisor, Battalion Chief Jim Topoleski, described him as a "quiet leader who listens and earns the trust of his employees by doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons," Frazier said. "On the fire ground he remains calm and methodical."
Sessler entered the fire service as a Fire Explorer with the Rancho Cucamonga Fire Protection District in 1999, Frazier said.
Two years later he became a volunteer firefighter with the Riverside County Fire Department, attending the 42nd Basic Fire Academy and completing his Associate of Science Degree at Crafton Hills College, Frazier said.
Sessler's professional experience includes seasonal firefighting in the San Bernardino National Forest Mountain Top District and work with the Del Rosa Hotshots, an elite team of wildland firefighters based just north of San Bernardino.
Sessler is committed to his job and the Redlands community, but he emphasized his most important commitment is to his wife, Tammy, and their three children, Anthony, Tyler and Khloe, Frazier said.
"You know, I love my job," Sessler said. "I love doing what I get paid to do, but my job is second to my family. I just love them a bunch more and that really is what matters."
The Redlands Firefighter of the Year is chosen by the department's executive team with participation from department firefighters.