John “Skip” Coleman Receives Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award

By Janelle Foskett, managing editor, FireRescue magazine

John “Skip” Coleman received the Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award during Thursday morning’s general session at FDIC. Assistant Chief Coleman, a 33-year veteran of the fire service, retired from the Toledo (Ohio) Department of Fire Rescue in 2008. Coleman is perhaps best known for his developing the “oriented method of search” to train recruits—a search tactic used by countless fire departments today.

During the presentation of the award, Fire Engineering Editor Bobby Halton quoted some of Coleman’s fire service friends and colleagues: Rick Lasky, chief of the Lewisville (Texas) Fire Department, said, “There is no doubt that firefighters are alive today because of Skip Coleman.” David “Chip” Comstock, chief of the Western Reserve Joint Fire District in Poland, Ohio, said that thousands have benefited from Coleman’s work. Mike McEvoy, EMS coordinator for Saratoga County, N.Y., said Coleman is a leader, mentor, role model and friend, and called his contributions to the fire service “priceless.” And Billy Goldfeder, deputy chief of the Loveland-Symmes (Ohio) Fire Department, thanked Coleman for his “heartfelt energy and enthusiasm.”

About the award Coleman said, “I don’t know how I fit into that equation, but I am truly humbled and honored.” He thanked his family and the members of the Toledo Fire Department for their support, and wiped away tears as he left the stage.

The award is named for Tom Brennan, the 1998 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, who passed away in 2006. Brennan’s daughter Eileen presented the award to Coleman. Past winners of the Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award include James O. Page, Vincent Dunn, Frank Brannigan, Ray Downey, John Eversole, Dr. Denis Onieal, John Mittendorf and Ron Siarnicki.

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