Alumnus Juggles Career and Fire

Alumnus Tad Buckingham '92, OD '94 was recently hired as the volunteer coordinator for the Forest Grove Fire and Rescue, but that's not all he does.

Buckingham went to Pacific University to become an optometrist. Since graduating, he has been a practicing optometrist, now working as a practicing attendant at Pacific University.

Buckingham has been a part of Forest Grove Fire and Rescue since being accepted into the program, all the way through to when he graduated from the College of Optometry in 1994. A friend from Pacific sent Buckingham an application for the resident volunteer firefighter program at Forest Grove Fire and Rescue.

This program has become a tradition over the years for some Pacific students, these volunteers were called "sleepers." The program offers training and room and board at the station as compensation for volunteering. He then became a full-time professional firefighter and part-time optometrist.  With the firefighter schedule of 24 hour on shift and 48 hours off, he would work his 24 hours with Forest Grove Fire and Rescue and dedicated his 48 off to his optometry career.

In Buckingham’s new position as full-time volunteer coordinator, he has a goal to grow Forest Grove’s volunteer base with his new approach of having a more open door policy giving volunteers more say in the Forest Grove Fire and Rescue operations.  He also hopes to grow the program by working with the colleges in the area to gain more volunteers both for combat and noncombat firefighting.

“Forest Grove Fire Department is the busiest in Washington County,” Buckingham said. Calls jumped from 2,789 last year to 3,049 this year. He continued, “Both combat and noncombat volunteers have ample amounts of opportunity to gain top quality experience in the field and opportunities to help keep the community safe in ways that people recognize and highly appreciate.”

Buckingham also gave some insight to the current burn ban that left Homecoming attendees disappointed when the bonfire was cancelled. He said, “The burn ban was not only implemented here in the Forest Grove, but across counties statewide. Unfortunately even if you took extra precautions in soaking the area and having a team on standby, there wasn’t any thing that could have been done to get our bonfire application approved.”

Due to higher eastern winds, starting the bonfire would have been too risky. Buckingham said, “The winds could easily take a little ember from the fire and start a brush fire somewhere miles away making it uncontrollable and impossible to prepare for.” However, with rain in the forecast, the ban should be released within the next week.

Learn more about volunteering at Forest Grove Fire & Rescue

Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012