TAZEWELL, Va. — Click here for video
Most of the trucks in the town of Tazewell Fire Station were pulled out of the garage bays so the building could be filled with love, admiration, respect and fellowship on Sunday afternoon for the ceremony dedicating the fire station to Chief A.D. “Mac” Buchanan in recognition of his 50 years of service to the department. Buchanan joined the department in 1956, and retired as its chief in 2006.
During an emotional ceremony that included the unveiling of a plaque dedicating the fire station to Chief Buchanan, present Tazewell Fire Chief Josh Roberts said that Buchanan was so dedicated to the department that when Buchanan was recovering from a heart attack, he contacted the department when they were fighting a fire and told the town firefighters what to do.
“Today, we honor our fire chief,” Roberts said, pausing during an emotional moment. “Mac Buchanan is a true hero,” he said. “Chief, today is your day. You’ve earned it.”
Along with his service to the community, Buchanan and his wife, Maxine, served to enhance the beauty of Tazewell through the flowers and plants they raised at their business, Buchanan’s Greenhouse that was located on West Main Street not far from the site of the town fire station. Buchanan, 91, thanked the town council, the fire department and his wife “for putting up with me all of those nights that I woke her up when I left to go on a fire call,” he said.
“I thank the Lord for saving my life in December 1944,” he said. “I nearly got killed. That’s the reason that I help people. To try to pay the Lord back for what He gave to me.” At the end of the dedication and as he headed in the direction of the barbecue dinner prepared by Carl Harry Jr. and Main Street Cafe VIP Room, Buchanan said the December 1944, near-death moment took place in France during the Battle of the Bulge.
Tazewell Mayor Donnie Buchanan, Mac’s son, expressed thanks to the crowd of more than 100 people gathered for the ceremony on behalf of the town and the family. He shared a few of his memories from his youth about some of the big fires his father talked about.
“The thing about firemen is that they don’t want to tell you about the bad things that happen like when someone is badly burned or when they lose their property in a fire,” Mayor Buchanan said. “Those things weigh heavy on the hearts of firefighters.”
State Senator Phillip P. Puckett, D-Russell, himself a volunteer firefighter with the Lebanon, Va., Volunteer Fire Department, said he understood why Chief Buchanan would direct firefighting action from his bed after suffering a heart attack.
“Once a firefighter, always a firefighter,” Puckett said. “When I was first elected to the senate, I went to turn in all of my fire gear and told the fellows that I wouldn’t be able to serve on the department any more. Nobody said anything, and I thought it was because they didn’t want to embarrass me.
“The next morning when I went to work at the Lebanon Insurance Agency, all of my bunker gear was laying outside the door,” Puckett said. “In a few minutes, I received a call on the radio telling me to report to the fire station. Once a fireman, always a fireman.”
Puckett and Mike Hymes, Southern District representative on the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, both talked about Buchanan having “a servant’s heart.” Hymes said that Buchanan also served the church through the years. “He also served his country and served it well,” Hymes said.
Puckett looked around at the beautiful fire station, and all the family, friends and other firefighters from throughout Tazewell County attending the event and said simply: “From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.”
Town Manager Todd Day served as master of ceremonies for the event and town council members Terry Mullins, Chris Blankenship and Jack Murray presented a plaque to Buchanan. Tom Conley led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and Leon O’Quinn offered the invocation.
— Contact Bill Archer at email@example.com