FDIC 2015: Instructor of the Year Eddie Buchanan

FDIC 2015 Q & A: Eddie Buchanan

FDIC Conference Director Diane Rothschild recently spoke with Eddie Buchanan, division chief, Hanover (VA) Fire & EMS, the recipient of the Fire Engineering/ISFSI George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award at FDIC 2015, about the whole FDIC “experience.”

DR: What does receiving this award mean to you? What is its significance?

EB: Receiving the George D. Post Award means so much to me. When I read the list of names of prior honorees, I can’t help but to think of the impact their work has had on the business of firefighting. They have improved the way we think, feel, and operate on the fireground because they had the courage to pursue a passion. To think that I would be even remotely associated with the Post award is incredibly humbling, particular considering all of the great instructors out their doing such great work! I’ve never won an award of any sort, so this is an incredible honor. 

DR: How long have you been teaching the fire service? How did you get into instructing?

EB: I started teaching in the early ’90s. I took every class they would let me take, and when I got my instructor qualification, it didn’t take long to realize the tremendous impact instructors can have on an organization. From there, I was hooked. And I was lucky to have some of the best mentors in the business to lead me along over the years–many of them through FDIC. Without their leadership and coaching, I would have never considered teaching anywhere other than my academy.

DR: What do you look forward to at FDIC?

EB: FDIC is church to me. Every year, I come crawling back, worn out from the year before. FDIC recharges my batteries, exposes me to the latest thinking in the business, and gets me ready to go back out there and work hard for another year. I don’t measure time by the calendar or fiscal year; I measure by when the next FDIC is!  

DR: What message would you like to give to a first-time attendee or to someone who has never been to FDIC?

EB: There is so much to do, you’ll need a plan. Attend everything you can and show up early. There will be more great classes than you can attend at one time, so you’ll have choose based on your priorities. And it’s not just about the world-class training. I’ve made friendships and connections at FDIC that have lasted my career. We talk all year and compare notes on training for our departments. Use every second to make the most of the opportunity. You can rest when you get home.  

DR: What do you think is the most pressing issue in the fire service, why, and what can be done about it?

EB: We still have a long way to go in getting fire dynamics research to every firefighter out there. And it’s not just about understanding the science; it’s about the culture that surrounds it. We can be very aggressive in our mission and incredibly effective using what the researchers have shown us. Sometimes, we still have to battle the hype to prove it. So what do we do about it? Just keep going. We are talking about the laws of physics, so we will all come to the same conclusion sooner or later. It’s important to understand that we’re talking about cultural change, and no matter what our positions on the topic, we are all brothers, sisters, and professionals. So we just keep going. There was a time that we didn’t like SCBAs, but we evolved over time. I hope that we’re approaching the tipping point on the science. 


General Session

Thursday, April 23, 2015

8:00 am-10:00 am

Sagamore Ballroom

Indiana Convention Center

Eddie Buchanan is the recipient of the Fire Engineering/ISFSI George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award. He began his fire service career in 1982 and is a division chief for Hanover Fire & EMS in Richmond, Virginia. He is a past-president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) and author of the Volunteer Training Officer’s Handbook. He serves on the advisory boards of Fire Engineering and FDIC and on the Technical Committee for Fire Service Training for the National Fire Protection Association. He is a past board member of the VCOS and past chairman of the CFSI National Advisory Committee. He was instrumental in the initial development of the firefighter survival program in Virginia “Mayday-Firefighter Down” and created the acronym “SLICE-RS” and has worked with the ISFSI to get the message out. 

Steve Pegram, president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors, which co-presents the award, says: “Like all good fire service instructors, Eddie enjoys working a problem and finding a solution. He did this as he led the ISFSI into the future, and he did it again when fire dynamics became firehouse kitchen table talk. Through his work as a fire officer, instructor, and national fire service leader, Eddie did what he does and threw his ideas up on the wall to see what stuck. The result was SLICE-RS, an acronym originally designed to help his department deal with the modern fire problem. Like any good instructor, Eddie wrote a policy, wrote a training plan, and then worked the kinks out. After a few tweaks, it was approved for implementation, and his department’s training and deployment policies were adjusted. There are many great fire service instructors; some of the best are the ones who share their ideas with everyone. Eddie shared the SLICE-RS concept with the ISFSI, and through grant funding it has now gone viral. Eddie’s creative mind, ability to work a problem, leading attitude, and overall desire to make the fire service–not just his fire department–better are why he is being recognized with this award.”

The award, which incorporates the Training Achievement Award previously given by Fire Engineering at the FDIC, is named for George D. Post, who was a long-time member of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI). Post was a member of the Fire Department of New York, an illustrator of fire service publications, and a developer of instructional materials and is considered by many to be the father of visual training material used to train fire service personnel around the world.


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