Former El Dorado County Firefighter recognized as the Vacaville Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year

by Placerville Newswire / Feb 13, 2016 / comments

Brian Buathier is a Vacaville fire engineer who is known for going above and beyond to ensure the safety of his fellow firefighters. He’s also known for making sure they laugh once in a while.

“This is my second family,” said Buathier, who has worked for the Vacaville Fire Department for 15 years and was promoted to engineer about a year ago. “I couldn’t think of doing anything else.”

At a recent fire department event, Vacaville Fire Chief Kris Concepcion called the firefighters together to tell them Buathier was voted Firefighter of the Year by his peers.

“That was probably one of the most special moments of my career,” Buathier said.

Last Saturday, Buathier stood on the side of Fire Engine 71 looking at the water pressure gauges — what he calls “his office.”

As an engineer, his responsibility is to transport the crew safely and supervise the deployment of the various hose lines and manage water pressure. You have to make sure your firefighters have a steady supply of water while they’re inside a burning structure, he said.

Those first 15 minutes of a working structure fire can be high-stress, he said, but he likes the challenge.

Buathier knew he wanted to be a firefighter when he was in high school. His started training as a firefighter during his senior year at Oakmont High School in Roseville. He became a volunteer firefighter in 1993. He worked in South Placer Fire District, Placer Hills Fire District and El Dorado County Fire Department. At one point, he was working for all three. “I didn’t see home very much,” he said.

For a firefighter, each day is different. “You never know what you’re going to get coming to work,” he said. “In two minutes, we could be going to a structure fire.”

Buathier remembers the exact date of one of his toughest calls. It was a multi-vehicle accident on Jan. 27, 2007, on westbound Interstate 80 near Lagoon Valley Road. A car had burst into flames and there were multiple people ejected from vehicles and several others had to be extricated, he said.

The accident claimed four lives and injured numerous others.

“That’s an image you never get out of your head,” he said....

Along with volunteering his time for department projects, Buathier also volunteered to go on strike teams across the state during the record fire season last year, Mahlberg said.

Thursday, Buathier was presented with his award at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theatre. During his speech, he asked every firefighter in the theatre, current and retired, to stand.

“To me, we’re all firefighters of the year,” he told the crowd.

He fittingly ended the speech with a quote he recently read about firefighters helping people: “I am not here for me, I am here for ‘we,’ and ‘we’ are here for ‘them.’”

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