Please read the short piece below brother Jeff Simpson and then tell us why you think FDIC is important to you or how it helps you to do our "work" Bobby
The FDIC Experience:
It’s early February and I just returned from an early morning residential fire, a total loss aided by high winds, modern construction materials and the darkness of night. After a quarter century of participating in the service I still, like all of us, decompress the thoughts in my mind about the details of the surreal experience that was just encountered. Things like fire behavior, apparatus placement, water supply conditions, command decisions, radio communications, what went right and what could go better. A process involving a grueling yet healing review of my conscious and unconscious actions and that of other teammates orchestrating the delivery. Why do we reflect on this self-review of personal behavior and human reaction? I believe this analysis provides insight if not closure regarding our contribution to a special cadre of folks that through dedication and commitment help others we know and those we don’t. A satisfying examination of our promise to adopted brothers and sisters called together through a common purpose to serve the greater good. With the many challenges today, you may be asking how one can experience this sense of belonging, of pure comradery unabated by the confines of your everyday environment. Look no further than Indianapolis during the unparalleled event of the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC).
Several years ago through unforeseeable circumstances and timing, I was given the opportunity to attend FDIC as a substitute in place of a colleague who was unable to attend. After jumping at the chance, I began forming opinions about what a fire service conference might be like. Could it quite possibly be another business sector gathering to review pie charts and data graphs showing industry trends, or product review slides revealing the latest and greatest in plastic replacements for tried and true brass components? Maybe an occasional guest speaker trumpeting the need to remain vigilant in the para-military ways of archaic leadership practices or the pro’s and cons of adopting NFPA standards? On the contrary, as my associates talked about their previous FDIC experiences, I began to develop a sense of child-like enthusiasm relative to that first time rush of visiting the Magic Kingdom. Emotions of swirling anticipation ready to soak up the experience of invaluable hands-on instruction, vendor demonstrations, the opening ceremony, classroom sessions, miles of exhibits and external networking opportunities. A sense of pride swelled to represent my department and all those not able to capitalize on the opportunity. To be chartered with sharing these experiences upon my return, aiding in the growth and knowledge of the department members and neighboring companies. The favorable circumstance was given to create lasting relationships with industry experts and fellow comrades from across the continent and beyond. Through chance if not destiny the trajectory of this occurrence had everlasting impact on me and cemented my belief in a higher purpose. Here’s why.
The networking opportunity I mentioned is the most satisfying piece of the entire FDIC experience. Friendships formed and interaction with other department attendees is truly everlasting. Each year in the spirit of a family reunion atmosphere, returning instructors and participants gather to strengthen relationship bonds, share words of goodwill, tell war stories from back home and partake in social events, instructional sessions and entertainment offerings throughout the week. A level of informal respect, honed by honorable intent, credibility, esprit de corps and the proposition that we all share common ground. No pressure of rank exists or aspiration that one department is above another, no political agenda’s, special favors or personal insecurities masked over through a deflection of blame or insult. A refreshing taste of the true meaning of brother and sisterhood that is so often talked about but less likely practiced. (picture 1)
Open Ceremony of the General Session
An awe inspiring event that provides an exuberant sense of pride as the honor guard and bag pipes file into the auditorium and keynote speakers deliver motivational addresses on relative subjects. Most of the hundreds of attendees are crisp in appearance sporting their class A uniforms or department apparel and snap to attention while the national anthem is sung by Indianapolis Fire Department’s bravest. To balance this outpouring of patronage is the humbling and sobering tribute to the yearly fallen firefighters as the Line of Duty Death names are read aloud. Several award recognitions follow such as the Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award presentation for a meritorious act at a recent incident or the Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award for longstanding contribution to the fire service. Lastly we all are welcomed to the international occurrence by Pennwell executives, the mayor and fire chief of Indianapolis and our best friend and Fire Engineering advocate, Bobby Halton.
The great City of Indianapolis stands as the capital of the Hoosier State and with its museums and monuments it is only rivaled by Washington DC. But the striking keys to experiencing its warm atmosphere revolve around the friendly people that work and live within its confines. FDIC attendees will be impressed by the hospitality offered to them at the many hotels, restaurants and social establishments in the third largest city on the Midwest. Upon my first experience, I was captivated with its energetic atmosphere, cleanliness and feeling of safety provided by our partners in law enforcement. Without fail the 28,000 plus attendees will be treated to a memorable experience provided with care and appreciation from the Indiana city representatives.
Social and Charity Gatherings
Following the daytime conference activities, a host of events come alive throughout the week, offering something for everyone. Each year like tradition, the thrilling pipes and drums jam session begins as a collection of pipers and drummers from across the nation gather to pay homage to our service through Gaelic related music. They gather at the Irish pub Claddagh, play a few tunes and then march throughout the restaurant district playing and entertaining all who gather to listen. By mid week, the local F.O.O.L.S organization put on an open session concert and skills competition to raise money to further to good work they do throughout the Indianapolis area (picture 2). Here F.O.O.L.S. members from various chapters and FDIC attendees meet to share good times, swap T-shirts and build lasting friendships. Towards the end of the week on Friday, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Firefighters’ host an open house at the local Union Hall, where the membership open their doors to celebrate comradery with a good meal, entertainment and tour of their museum-like structure adorned with tradition. Most recently the annual Saturday morning FDIC Courage and Valor Fun Run commences to raise money for the Ray Downey Courage and Valor Medal and Award presented each year at FDIC. This event is a great time to share the laughter, joy, and family that define the fire service.
Training Conference and Exhibition
Strong statements like “the world’s largest and the industry’s most renowned fire and rescue training conference and exhibition” ring true in describing this spectacular event. Where else can 81 years of training experience delivered by the world’s finest leaders in education and industry instruction be offered to attendees from around the globe. Challenging Hands-On-Training and Workshop curriculums are designed to and deliver on providing attendees with a wealth of knowledge. Through demonstration and participation we are better informed firefighters and thus, better equipped to serve our neighbors within our communities. I am convinced that the advantage goes to the participants as they are exposed to immeasurable human resources who are seasoned practitioners on the topics that face all of us each day in the fire and rescue service.
Any questions regarding the latest in products, apparatus advancements, services and industry technology can be put to rest by exploring the largest showcase and exhibition of fire equipment in the world. 900 plus exhibitors with familiar industry names will be ready to assist in demonstrating the latest tools available to making the job safer and more efficient for those making a difference everyday in the firehouses across the continents.
The impact of FDIC on my involvement in the emergency services field has been profound and it can be for you to. By happenstance I was provided with the opportunity to attend FDIC as a participant some years ago and I would have never imagined that the good fortune would afford so many rewards. For all the reasons mentioned above and more, the experience provided the motivation necessary to become better at what it is that drives our passion as a members of the service. There is no limit to the benefits received or satisfaction gained by learning and teaching others and FDIC has provided that to me. So if you’re looking for inspiration or a renewed sense of motivation when the rigors of the job test you there is solace each and every Spring.