Firefighter Training, Firefighting

How Can You Help Your Department? Eddie Buchanan on Firefighter Leadership

Eddie Buchanan, division chief of Hanover (VA) Fire & EMS and president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI), challenged students attending his FDIC 2010 class, “Leading  with Attitude,” to make a difference in their department. Buchanan discussed the attitudes of various types of firefighters that one encounters on the job, and exhorted students to reflect on how they could be part of the solution, rather than the problem.

“Every firefighter, regardless of rank or experience, must consider how they contribute to the fire service as a whole,” Buchanan said. “Most of us join the fire service with the intention of being a go-to firefighter; we join with the expectation of the being the best. Yet, over time, we can loose some of that motivation. What happens to it? Where does it go? This program challenges us to take command of our own careers and make the fire service what we know it can be.”

Speaking to a packed room of several hundred students, Buchanan pointed to historical leaders, both in the fire service and out, seeking a common thread between them, but finding none. “There is no quintessential book on leadership,” he said. “There’s more to it.”

Buchanan pointed to the fact that great leaders tend to be passionate, vocal about their passions, and willing to take ownership of their passions–even risking failure, or that they might be wrong. He challenged students about whether there really is a “brotherhood” in the fire service, and discussed the typical cast of characters you find in fire stations around the country.

Buchanan is featured on the ISFSI‘s bi-weekly radio program, “The Voice,” which is hosted by Fire Engineering, and speaks on issues related to the ISFSI and fire instructors in a new video series appearing on the site. He is a regular presenter at FDIC and recently presented a Web version of “Leading with Attitude” at FDIC Online.