Well, FDIC 2014 has come and gone and sure enough, no one was disappointed. We had more folks there than ever, there was electricity in the air and learning was nearly off the scale. There’s no other place like it. For me and many others, it’s an annual family reunion. There are a host of men and women I only see once a year and it’s in Indianapolis. For those of you who couldn’t get there, here’s a bit of it from where I stood, walked, talked, sat and stared.
On Monday and Tuesday, thousands were put through hands-on training in the field and through workshops in the convention center. I taught my “Leadership Excellence” workshop on Monday, only to attend “Leadership in the Real World” on Tuesday, presented by Batt. Chief (ret.-FDNY) Bob Burns. He sat in my class the day before. If you haven’t seen Bob’s show, you’re missing something special. We leadership guys talk and share our experiences. Like the rest of the instructor cadre at FDIC, no egos. We come to share with those who come to listen which includes each other. I also stopped in on Deputy Chief PJ Norwood (East Haven, CT) and Batt. Chief Jim Duffy (Wallingford, CT) doing their “Fire Attack” workshops. Good, clean and crisp classes with information that’s worth staying for. (Keep your eyes open for PJ Norwood. He’s and up-and-comer.) As for my friend Duffy, just pearls of wisdom from a veteran.
As Tuesday afternoon rolled around, the vendors started to load in and started to deck the halls. TV’s, T-shirts, engines, trucks, tenders, rescues, ambulances, SCBA, turnout gear, TIC’s, tools, beds, chairs, computers, and did I say T-shirts? Over 900 vendors, touting their products and supporting our cause. I always looked upon our vendors and fire equipment manufacturers as being part of our “fire community.” They have supported our causes time and time again. I attended the Inaugural Comedy Slam for the FF Cancer Support Network on Tuesday night. (Rumors of me telling a few stories to warm up the crowd were greatly exaggerated. Well, maybe J) There were 5 comedians from Las Vegas and other places and they were great. What was posted on the overhead screen? Sponsors and their logos. People from the exhibit floor supporting our cause. Please join us next year for the second annual. Then again on Thursday night, was the NFFF Stop, Drop, Rock and Roll. What was posted on the overhead screen? People from the exhibit floor supporting our cause. Please join us next year on Thursday night for this great event as well. The vendors are supporting our causes. We need to do the same!
The opening program on Wednesday revealed the Chief Ray Downey Medal of Valor and Editor in Chief Bobby Halton lighting the stage on fire with this key note, followed by Eric Roden with his important message. The Thursday main program revealed the Tom Brennan Life Time Achievement Award, presented to Chief Ronny Coleman of California. Well deserved! Next up was the George D. Post Instructor of the Year awarded to Steve Kerber, from UL. Steve along with his partner Dan Madryzkowsky from NIST have proven with science that we need to fight fires a differently today due to hydrocarbon fire loading and he changes in fire behavior. Congrats to Ronny and Steve. Well done gents!
The rest of the week brought 200 classes, the Courage and Valor Foundation Fun Run, the 343 Stair Climb, the FOOLS bash, the party at the Indy FD Union Hall and more brotherhood than one can almost take.
There’s no place I’d rather be the second week in April. Start saving for next year. You won’t want to miss our annual family reunion. See you there.
Be well, stay well, be safe,