FDIC 2015: FE/ISFSI Instructor of the Year Award

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Eddie Buchanan, of Hanover Fire & EMS, Richmond, Virginia, is the 2015 Fire Engineering (FE)/International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award. The presentation of the award was made at this morning’s General Session by Steve Pegram, president of the ISFSI, and Bobby Halton, editor in chief of Fire Engineering and education director of FDIC International.  

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Buchanan accepted the award on behalf of various people and organizations he credited with helping him to merit it:

 “I accept this award on behalf of many. I accept it on behalf of my family [members], who have asked, ‘When will you be home, Daddy?’ too many times.

“On behalf of the teams at the National Institute of Standards and Technology; Underwriters Laboratories; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, who have done so much to save firefighters in the future.  I consider my part in the research to be much like the part Ringo played for the Beatles: The engineers were John and Paul; they wrote the songs.  My job as an instructor is to get everyone to dance to the song …  

“On behalf of my many mentors who have guided me over the years. Many are here at FDIC …
“On behalf of the ISFSI, for its support and leadership and the honor of this award …

“And, most importantly, on behalf of my department, Hanover Fire & EMS.  Chiefs Michael Harman, Frederick Crosby, and Jethro Piland have been crazy enough to let me run all of these years.  It’s one thing to sketch out a concept and quite another to bring it to life in the field.  Lt. Jason Burrow, Division Chief Robbie Phipps, and so many others who had the courage to do it differently and sweat it out on the fireground to prove it works. They are the ones who brought SLICE-RS to life.”  [Author’s note:  SLICE-RS: Size-Up, Locate the fire (360˚ walk-around every time with thermal imaging camera), Isolate the flow path, Cool from a safe distance, Extinguish, Rescue, Salvage.]

Pegram noted that Buchanan, “like all good fire service instructors, enjoys working a problem and finding a solution.” He explained the SLICE-RS acronym was originally designed to help Buchanan’s department deal with the modern fire problem.

Buchanan has set his sight on issues he sees as critical for today’s fire services. In an interview, FE asked him which of his accomplishments he believe had the greatest effect on his department/the fire service. “I was heavily involved in firefighter survival training back in the 1990s and early 2000s when survival training was in its heyday,” he explained. “I felt we did a good job giving firefighters the skills they needed to survive, both through the Saving Our Own Hands-On-Training at FDIC and the Mayday-Firefighter Down Program in Virginia.”

“Today,” Buchanan continued, “we’re teaching them fire dynamics to help them avoid being in that situation in the first place.  And I still think both skills sets are important!  We need to be educated on how to manage modern fueled fires and be prepared on what to do when things go wrong.  So as far as accomplishments, neither are solely my own, but I’ve been honored to be a part of incredible teams that have been able to make some great strides toward improving firefighter safety.”

As far as his future goals are concerned, Buchanan says that he has been studying another emerging threat to firefighters–unarmed response to hostile events.  Firefighters, he notes, are being confronted with hostile or potentially violent situations more and more and are not trained for those incidents. He has been working with some specialists in that field to determine how to meet these needs.  

Buchanan is also “very interested in first responder suicides.  My gut feeling is that if we added it to the causes of deaths for firefighters, we would be shocked at how it stacks up to other firefighter killers.”   

Buchanan began his fire service career in 1982. He is a past-president of the ISFSI and author of the Volunteer Training Officer’s Handbook.

The FE/ISFSI award incorporates the Training Achievement Award previously given by Fire Engineering at the FDIC and is named for George D. Post, a long-time member of the ISFSI. Post was a member of the Fire Department of New York, an illustrator of fire service publications, and a developer of instructional materials; he is considered by many to be the father of visual materials used to train fire service personnel around the world.


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