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I try never to make promises I cannot keep. That being understood, I'd like to share with you why you should invest your valuable time and hard-earned money to attend the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC).

FDIC is a major event for the fire service, bringing together tens of thousands of firefighting, instructors, and manufacturers to keep up with the latest developments, tactics, and equipment in the firefighting industry. The conference includes hands-on training (HOT), classroom sessions, workshops, award and remembrance ceremonies, vendor exhibits, entertainment, and special events like the 9/11 memorial stair climb. All of these provide valuable opportunities to improve yourself, bond with others in your field, and work together as a team.

Here are four specific reasons why you should attend the 2015 conference in Indianapolis, which will be known as FDIC International:  

1. FDIC provides great opportunities for team building

On the surface, you may not think that a group of colleagues jumping into a vehicle or on a plane and heading to a conference is a team-building exercise. Well, think again. FDIC is a perfect opportunity to push yourself both physically and mentally (at a HOT class or physical challenge), and to improve your tactical and technical knowledge base (at classroom sessions or workshops). All of which provide an excellent opportunity to bond with others who are as passionate about our profession and you and I are.

2. FDIC is an incredible way to increases your knowledge base.

Self-education for any profession is important, but for ours it's essential. Firefighters owe it to themselves, their community, and their profession to NOT become complacent. You don't know what you don't know, and what you don't know can kill someone on the fireground. The only way to improve your situational awareness is through education and training. Trust me when I say: experience is not the best teacher. Other people's experience is the best teacher. FDIC provides you with an opportunity to learn from the best instructors in the world, shake hands with icons in our industry, network with like-minded people, and come back with a first-class education in your chosen field. All of which will inspire you and your team to be better then you were before.

3. FDIC is where the leaders will be.

If you intend to become a leader in your field, you will have to do the things that leaders do. Leaders are readers. Leaders are influencers. Leaders never walk past a problem they can solve. Leaders are forward thinkers. Leaders attend fire conferences to network and increase their knowledge base. John Maxwell talks about 'the Rule of Five' which states that you are mostly influenced by the five people you spend the most of your time with. FDIC will give you the opportunity to spend time with and develop solid relationships with, true leaders within our industry. The five fire service leaders I spend the most of my time speaking with are my brother and four others whom I've met at FDIC over the years.

4. FDIC renews your passion for firefighting.

Is your organization consumed with negativity? If so, beware. Negative attitudes are contagious and the end result is the type of drama that will suck the life out of you and your team members. Here's the good news: passion and enthusiasm are also contagious, and there is no shortage of either at FDIC. The passion you will hear from the leaders who will be teaching will be enough for you to increase your commitment to developing and improving your leadership ability, which in turn will help your organization function at a higher level.

When you attend a seminar on your own time with your own money, you are making a commitment to better yourself. You are doing more than you have to do--more than anyone is asking of you. There is something empowering about that. You are not sitting back and waiting for someone else to step up. Instead, you are raising your hand high and saying, "I'm in!" Once you make that type of commitment, you will no longer be considered another card carrying member of the fire service. You will become an active participant. Of course, that is if you take advantage of everything FDIC has to offer.

Lastly, FDIC is about education and camaraderie. It's about becoming a stronger leader and better teammate, but it's also about having fun. Your work is stressful and demanding. You have earned the right to laugh, bond with your colleagues, and enjoy yourself. If you are currently wondering if the brotherhood and sisterhood still exists within the fire service, I want to ensure you that it does. It is still very alive and very well and you will see and experience it first hand when you attend FDIC. That I can promise.

For the complete article on why you should attend FDIC, along with a list of Do's and Don'ts for attendees, click here.

~ Posted by DC Frank Viscuso

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