Orland Fire District dedicates training center in honor of former Chief Robert Buhs
Robert M. Buhs is credited with building the Orland Fire Protection District rising from the ranks of volunteer through serving as Fire Chief until 2003. The OFPD, which is recognized as having the highest save rate in the country, dedicated the Robert M. Buhs Education & Leadership Development Center on Friday, July 15, 2022 in his honor
The Orland Fire Protection District, ranked as having one of the highest ‘save rates’ in the nation, dedicated the “Robert M. Buhs Education & Leadership Development Center” on Friday (July 15, 2022) in honor of a former fire chief who officials said was the district’s chief architect.
Orland Fire Chief Michael Schofield said that the Orland Fire Protection District (OFPD) Board of Trustees, including President Chris Evoy and Trustees John Brudnak, James Hickey, Jayne Schirmacher and Craig Schmidt, created the rank of “Fire Chief Emeritus” in recognition of the contributions Buhs made during his 27 years of service.
In ceremony filled with emotion, Buhs was presented with the newly created rank to reflect his role in building the Orland Fire Protection District. A naming plaque was unveiled at the “Buhs Education & Leadership Development Center” located at 10728 W. 163rd Place.
“Buhs is the first recipient of the rank of Chief Emeritus in the Orland Fire District,” Schofield said.
“For us as an organization and as a Board of Trustees, this is just a small gesture for everything that you have done. For everything that you have meant to the organization and how this organization continues to grow for what you did.”
Schofield presented Buhs with a new name tag that included the title “Fire Chief Emeritus.”
“In the early days we didn’t have battalion chiefs so when there was a fire, Buhs had to go and leave his family to respond,” Schofield explained. “Family means so much to Bob Buhs and to have his family pin the medal on him.”
Schofield added, “Bob has set the bar extremely high and if you look at what he has done, it is going to be very hard for anybody else to come close.”
Buhs, who had volunteered four years as a firefighter before his formal service began, expressed his gratitude in receiving the honor, saying he is honored by “the dedication and continued spirit” of the Orland Fire Protection District’s service to the community.
“I think the message I would like to see go on to the future men and women of this organization. Orland has been a family while serving today and those who will be serving in the future of this organization,” Buhs said.
“To the current young men and women who are now a member of this district, this family, let this building serve not as an educational and leadership development center, but as a reminder that it took a team, a team of dedicated people who supported me, who stood next to me, and who built the district. Now, the challenge is you to move forward. Thank you.”
Former Frankfort Fire Chief and now Executive Director of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association Jim Grady III who opened the ceremony emphasized that Buhs “has been surrounded by and centered by family first. Always family first.”
Today, the Orland Fire Protection District is recognized as having a 65 percent save rate for individuals who suffer heart attacks. The national save rate is only 10 to 15 percent. The OFPD is Certified with ISO-1 and as an Internationally Accredited Fire Department, one of only 100 in the United States and Canada.
Schofield read the dedication on the plaque that outlined Buhs’ service which was placed at the new Buhs Education & Leadership Development Center.
“Bob started his fulltime career here in 1977. Was promoted to lieutenant in 1981. Promoted to Deputy Chief in 1986. He was first appointed Chief/Administrator in 1988. One of Buhs’ earliest visions was to build a regional training facility. He was one of the first to start training officers and command functions knowing the importance of the unified command, Chief Buhs was always a leader within the State of Illinois with regards to training,” Schofield told the gathering at the newly named Center of about 150 firefighters, command staff, employees, families and friends.
“And his vision for the Fire Service was that every firefighter have every opportunity to learn, to practice and to implement the best practices of the Fire Service.”
Schofield said that through Buhs leadership in establishing the training program, battalion chiefs were recognized through intense training.
“Bob saw that the command staff had become leaders and it was accomplished through training and giving them opportunities. Opportunities to learn and practice their knowledge in a controlled environment,” Schofield said of Buhs who retired as Chief in 2003.
“Today we train at the regional training center, train our firefighters at the highest level to create the next generation of firefighters, command officers and leaders.”
Chief Buhs also served as Executive Director of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association from 1988 until 1999 but continued as a consultant and mentor to every chief that has served since that time, Schofield noted.
“Bob, it is a great honor to know you and it is a great honor for everything you did here. This organization would not be what it is without you,” Schofield said.
CLICK HERE to view a video of the ceremony (video courtesy of Steve Neuhaus) or use the video widget below to watch it here.
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