Vice President, Interim Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer at Rollins
Thank you, Jerry. We delivered a strong first quarter highlighted by significant growth across many key financial metrics. Like last quarter, we are including a slide deck on our website, which presents the numbers we discussed during today's earnings call presentation. To view the deck, please go to rollins.com, click on news and events, then presentation.
Now on to the numbers. Our first quarter revenues of $590.7 million was an increase of 10.3% actual exchange rate and 7% organic. With the constant exchange rate, the total revenue growth totaled 9.6% with 6.3% organic. As previously mentioned, residential, commercial and termite all presented strong growth for the quarter. Residential grew 10.2%, 5.8% organic, commercial grew 9.1%, 7.9% organic. Lastly, we have termite which grew 13.3% with 8.5% organic.
Now on to our income. For the first quarter, we are presenting adjusted EBITDA for comparison purposes due to the impact of our gain on sale of several of our Clark properties of $31 million in Q1 of last year. First quarter EBITDA 2022 was $117.8 million or 4.2% over 2021 adjusted EBITDA of $113 million. First quarter 2022 EPS was $0.15 per diluted share or 7.1% improvement over 2021 adjusted EPS.
For the first quarter 2022, gross margin decreased to 50% or 1.2 points below last year. As mentioned fleet created another quarter of strong headwinds in Q1 2022 primarily from fuel in the amount of $4.6 million and vehicle repairs of $1.2 million over last year. Combined, these fleet expense increases equated to seven-tenths of a point in additional costs. Service salaries were up four-tenths of a point while pest control materials and supplies were at $2.9 million or one-tenth of a point. Fuel increases were driven by a 42% increase in the average price paid per gallon in Q1 2022 over 2021. This along with customer growth brought a 55% increase in our total fuel cost for the quarter.
The service wages increase was a combination of COVID sick time taken and overtime paid to cover work for employees out sick with COVID. We faced some difficult challenges in January as our reported number of employees testing positive for COVID-19 increased 154% over January 2021. Additional overtime pay required to complete our routes and cover for these COVID cases contributed to a 21% increase over Q1 2021. We believe this to be a one-time event unless another COVID surge occurs. Sales, general and administrative or SG&A on the other hand held flat Q1 2022 over 2021 with both quarters coming in at 30.3%.
Now, for a few notes regarding our cash flow. Our dividends for Q1 2022 totaled $49.2 million or an increase of 25% over 2021 while cash used for acquisitions declined 22% to $13.2 million for 2022. We ended the current period with $258.3 million in cash of which $86.1 million was held by our foreign subsidiaries. As you probably noted, we have also increased our term loan over last year. This will put us in a strong position to act quickly on either potential acquisitions or stock repurchases as opportunities may arise.
Now to free cash flow. For the first quarter of 2022, our free cash was $79.5 million or a decrease of 28.8% over last year. The decline was related to $30.6 million in payroll taxes deferred under the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security or CARES Act in 2022 and subsequently paid in the third quarter of 2021. In comparing the current first quarter to last year, the deferral was within the Q1 2021 operating activities.
Last, I'm pleased to share that yesterday the Board of Directors approved a regular cash dividend of $0.10 per share that will be paid on June 10, 2022 to shareholders of record at the close of business May 10, 2022. This represents a 25% increase over the dividend paid in June 2021. The dividend increase reflects our strong performance in the quarter of 2022, accentuates our financial strength, the Board's confidence in our outlook for continued growth.
Gary, I'll turn the call back to you.