Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Fire Chief for 36 Years, but Not Yet Burned out ; German Township's Leader Needs Time for State Level Job

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Fire Chief for 36 Years, but Not Yet Burned out ; German Township's Leader Needs Time for State Level Job

Article excerpt

To be a good firefighter, it takes willingness to sacrifice and give up your private time to do things for people that you don't know, said retiring German Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief John M. Buckman III. But he said it also takes more to be effective. "Other than sacrifice, you've got to have a willing family who is willing to give you up," Buckman, 60, said. "Because the reality is that my girls didn't see me a lot and their mother raised them very well. That's a tough one, but you've got to have a family that's willing to sacrifice as well."

Family, friends and coworkers gathered Sunday afternoon at an open house celebration at the German Township Fire Station to congratulate Buckman on his retirement.

He joined the department in 1970, and served as fire chief for 36 years. Buckman is currently the branch chief of the Indiana Firefighter Training System, Indiana Department of Homeland Security in Indianapolis.

Along with two childhood friends, Buckman, who lived one block from a fire station, decided as a 17-year-old that he would be a firefighter. He remembers hearing the station sirens and sprinting to the station to tag along on his first run, a brush fire. His favorite part of the job is fighting a fire, but it's really about helping people.

"If you do not like helping people, then you're not going to survive in this business, because that's what it's really about," Buckman said. "Today people dial 911 and they expect someone to come help them, to be nice to them and take care of their problem."

According to incoming fire chief David Bretz, Buckman is the face of German Township.

"The reality of it is, even though I'm going to be the chief, John's always going to be chief," Bretz, 52, said. "That's just the way it is. We're always going to look to him for guidance. He's not going to be too far, as long as he's got his telephone."

Bretz has worked in fire service for 33 years and served as assistant fire chief for German Township for about eight years. He will take over as chief on Tuesday.

Bretz said he's been learning from Buckman his entire career. He said Buckman brought knowledge to the department. …

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