Apparatus, Equipment, FDIC

Packed Aisles Mark Successful FDIC International 2019

Issue 6 and Volume 24.

Packed Aisles Mark Successful FDIC International 2019

It’s never easy to put into words what the FDIC International experience is. This year, I have to say I would sum up my experience with one word: traffic.

During the course of three days’ worth of exhibits, I find myself traversing the show floor many, many times. According to my fitness tracker, my average number of steps on the exhibit days was 18,814. And, for all of them I found myself stuck in traffic. I’ve been doing this routine for a while now, and I feel like I have a pretty good idea of how long it takes to get from place to place. But, every time I went to make my way to another location, the number of people in the aisles slowed me down more than normal this year—which is a great thing.

No doubt this year saw even more products than last year designed with reducing firefighter exposure to carcinogens in mind. Whether wipes, clean cabs, particulate-blocking personal protective equipment (PPE), or others, there is a concerted effort industrywide to help firefighters reduce their exposure to harmful contaminants or decon themselves after exiting a contaminated atmosphere.

 MSA unveiled LUNAR, a wireless, cloud-ready device designed to keep firefighters connected on a fire scene and allow person-to-person ranging, GPS locating, and thermal imaging. (Photo courtesy of MSA.)

1 MSA unveiled LUNAR, a wireless, cloud-ready device designed to keep firefighters connected on a fire scene and allow person-to-person ranging, GPS locating, and thermal imaging. (Photo courtesy of MSA.)

The exhibits continued to perfectly complement the hands-on training and classroom instruction firefighters received all week. After using and discussing many of the products on the floor, firefighters got to see them up close and personal during the exhibits and got to talk to, many times, the product managers who helped develop the products.

In terms of my own observations, technology continues to be a focal point of the industry, making our fire apparatus smarter and improving the quality of technology we carry with us to help locate victims or our own crews. PPE manufacturers continue to enhance their product offerings for comfort and protection—which is not an easy combination to master while maintaining maximum breathability.

 OnScene Solutions developed the SafeTSystem for transport of breathing air bottles by personal carry or by wheeled cart. (Photo courtesy of OnScene Solutions.)

2 OnScene Solutions developed the SafeTSystem for transport of breathing air bottles by personal carry or by wheeled cart. (Photo courtesy of OnScene Solutions.)

I did notice a lot of “buzz” around aerial products this year, as many manufacturers worked to enhance existing product lines as well create new ones. More and more, fire apparatus builders are working with their vendors to help end users build rigs that meet customer expectations and are perfectly fitted for the communities they serve. There is truly no one-size-fits-all fire truck.

As usual, we’ve asked our Editorial Advisory Board members who attended the show to contribute their observations based on their particular areas of expertise. Their “trade show reports” follow.

 
 

Components, Equipment, Turnout Gear, and Apparatus in the Spotlight

BY ALAN M. PETRILLO

Highlights of FDIC International 2019 included new models of pumps, nozzles, personal PPE, apparatus, boats, and other firefighting equipment.

W.S. Darley & Company showed its Digitrol™ digital control panel on a high-pressure, low-volume, gear-driven, engine-mounted 1.5AGE 24X pump that delivers 20 gallons per minute (gpm) at 310 pounds per square inch (psi), 140 gpm at 145 psi, and 180 gpm at 80 psi using a 2.70 ratio standard impeller and 25 gpm at 375 psi, 75 gpm at 245 psi, and 120 gpm at 80 psi with a 3.17 ratio high-pressure impeller. Kyle Darley, design engineer, says plug-and-play Digitrol modules can be added “anywhere needed on a truck, the cab, pump panel, or rear of the vehicle.”

Darley also showcased a PURIFIRE® 4S10F fire-truck-integrated water purification module with pump ratings from 500 to 3,000 gpm; compact PSM 1,000, 1,250, and 1,500 single-stage pumps with single suction impellers; and the DARCON air or water decontamination unit that can be used to reduce volatile organic compounds.

Task Force Tips (TFT) introduced its new SHO-FLOW® Bluetooth® Flow Meter series that Vice President of Marketing Phil Gerace says “provides accurate, real-time information for use in testing, training ,and firefighting operations about water flow rates on a single hoseline;” new radio-controlled and transportable configurations of its Crossfire monitor and nozzles; and the Vortex 2 and 2 ER nozzles that flow up to 1,250 gpm and can be used with all TFT monitors.

Ziamatic Corp. introduced the Zico Sure-Grip tool mount with a flexible 1½-inch-wide nylon strap for more gripping surface area, says Sales Associate Keith Creely. “Tension is applied by pulling away from the mount, not toward, giving you more leverage and allowing you to apply more of your strength when securing,” he says.

Elkhart Brass Company displayed its new Brush Hawk™ low-flow, compact, joystick-controlled, wildland quick-attack monitor that flows up to 300 gpm from a 1½-inch inlet and up to 500 gpm from a 2-inch inlet, providing both fog and straight streams. Elkhart also introduced its new Apex valve controller in four models that will operate with all existing unibody valves.

Waterous brought out its C22 chain-driven transmission designed to create a smaller, more efficient power transfer between the apparatus driveline and its fire pumps, a new spring-loaded intake relieve valve that replaces the old-style pilot valve, the improved S100 series pump with an added inducer, and the improved K Series transmission that is lighter and has an added integral oil cooler.

IDEX Fire & Safety introduced SAM, a system that manages valves, intakes, and discharges on pump systems, according to Lazaro Martinez, district sales manager. “The system is very user-friendly, feathers the valves to open and close, eliminates water hammer, and replaces the gauges on a pump panel,” he says.

Attendees to the exhibits were treated to examples of how various fire departments display their company pride. (Photo by Chris Mc Loone.)

3 Attendees to the exhibits were treated to examples of how various fire departments display their company pride. (Photo by Chris Mc Loone.)

MSA unveiled LUNAR, a small wireless cloud-ready device designed to keep firefighters connected through person-to-person ranging, GPS locating, and personal thermal imaging and with a motion-detected person-down alarm. LUNAR can be used as a standalone device or as part of MSA’s G1 SCBA system, according to Jasmine Spencer, MSA representative. MSA Globe Firefighting Apparel also introduced four new fits to its Globe ATHLETIX™ pants: slim, regular, relaxed, and women’s versions.

Honeywell First Responder Products displayed its new Morning Pride structural turnout pant, the Pro Fit, that lowers the front rise 1½ inches and provides a more flexible knee through a sleeve on the side for a more natural curve. Two panels on the front and back of the leg, says Deana Stankowski, senior product marketing manager, allow the leg to move with minimal rise of the cuff.

Other products seen at FDIC include the Clutch™ made by CMC in collaboration with Harkin Industrial, a personal descender or ascender that uses a twin tension system to raise or lower a firefighter on a rope, and the new X30 cargo system made by OnScene Solutions that enables an out-and-down deployment out of a compartment handling a maximum weight of 500 pounds. OnScene Solutions also introduced its new SafeTSystem air bottle transport system.

Alexis Fire Apparatus displayed a top-mount, clean cab pumper for the Dalton Township (MI) Fire Department that has a Hale Qmax 1,500-gpm pump, 1,000-gallon water tank, 20-gallon foam cell, and four self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) in the L3 compartment.

Lake Assault Boats featured a new 22-foot-long rigid hulled inflatable boat rescue/fireboat powered by a 200-horsepower (hp) Suzuki outboard engine.

 
 

Apparatus Designs and Trends

BY BILL ADAMS

FDIC International 2019 solidifies the FDIC’s reputation for being the “in” place to observe apparatus designs and trends. Some manufacturers introduced their newest and greatest innovations while others appear to have tweaked existing product lines to make them better. The multitude of manufacturers and space limitations herein prohibits listing them all. Some of my observations—in no order of importance and showing no favoritism—follow.

The rear step is back! For several years, rigs featured flatback designs sans a tailboard. Many pumpers this year sported usable rear work platforms, enhancing hose operations. Rear hose connections seemed to be in favor, although some are located so high that a tailboard is needed to reach them.

There seemed to be quite a few tankers (tenders) displayed this year. Some had a dump valve on each side and at the rear while some units only had a rear dump. Many carried a portable pond on each side. Summit showed a tanker with slide-in tank storage on one side and slide-in storage for ground ladders on the other.

Maintainer Custom Body (MCB) specializes in the small- to medium-size walk-around rescues. It displayed a unit called the Scene Commander, which featured a small crane with a 5,500-pound capacity and a 20-foot reach. The advertising showed it deploying a small boat.

HME-Ahrens Fox expanded its line of stainless steel pumps with ratings from 150 gpm to 2,250 gpm, a complement to their stainless bodies and piping.

Spencer, known for aluminum body work, featured a rig with a polypropylene body.

Rosenbauer had a couple of interesting features. One was its concept to remove turnout gear and SCBA from the crew cab. They’ll all be copying that next year. The other was a platform with an articulating end for reaching over parapets. Another is what appears to be an extra-long hydraulically operated slide-out hose chute on an aerial device. It also showed its first 55-foot articulating platform with a pump.

KME introduced 84- and 102-foot midmount towers to replace its existing sizes.

There appeared to be an increased number of powered ladder racks on pumpers. Perhaps customers don’t want to sacrifice compartmentation when ladders slide in the rear outboard of the booster tank.

Spartan tweaked its quick-delivery IPS-180 custom pumper. Now called the IPS-NXT, it has a full-bodied 2,250-gpm pump. I understand some “alternatively located single-suction pumps” just meet 1,500 gpm. It also introduced a 93-foot midmount tower.

Seagrave appeared to have the most user-friendly rear hose loads and rear discharges on pumpers. It, among a couple of others, displayed some of its rigs with loaded hose, which is more realistic than looking at a blueprint. Several pumper manufacturers featured rear “steamer” and large-diameter hose connections.

E-ONE, known for its aluminum ladders, introduced a 100-foot steel midmount tower featuring its criss-cross under-slung jacks with short jacking capability. It also redesigned its HP-100 rear-mount platform’s turntable to reach below grade. The rig can also be short-jacked.

Surprisingly, Pierce didn’t have a major announcement this year. It did, however, have a very full and diversified display of its product line. This year, Pierce appeared to emphasize the scope and depth of its dealer network along with service and aftermarket support.

CustomFIRE displayed one of the few rear-mount pumps on the floor. It has a neat looking pump panel in the curbside compartment behind the rear wheels.

Ferrara had a sharp looking tractor-drawn aerial ladder and it also introduced its MVP concept on a quint.

Midwest Fire displayed one of its new pumper-tankers available factory direct, as is the rest of its line of apparatus.

Black “coatings” marketed under various trade names have remained popular, although some are reminiscent of photos of World War 2 era fire apparatus. Rosenbauer uses it extensively as does Ferrara, and one manufacturer showed a top-mount pumper where it seemed everything but the windshield was coated.

Blasphemy was a black-coated Federal Q on an otherwise huge and impressive-looking rescue truck.

Several manufacturers have cut way back on their pass-out literature and catalogs. One said if I wanted info on its rig, I had to look up its order number on the Internet and download it myself.

 
 

Fire Apparatus for Pump-and-Roll Operations

BY CHRIS DALY

As I do every year, I took some time to walk around the show floor at FDIC International and check out any new vehicle safety gadgets. While there is a lot of new technology coming into our industry, one item caught my eye. I came across a brush truck that was specifically designed with “pump-and-roll” operations in mind. I found this vehicle especially interesting because in past years there have been several crashes in which brush trucks have rolled over while members were standing on the exterior of the vehicle during a pump-and-roll operation. As you can imagine, this scenario poses significant hazards to the members who are operating on the outside of the vehicle.

In the case of the vehicle I was looking at, I noted that it was designed with a heavy-duty roll cage. In addition to the roll cage, the vehicle was equipped with several mounting points so that a member equipped with a fall harness could clip in. Should the vehicle roll over during pump-and-roll operations, the theory is that a member would not be thrown from the vehicle and would remain within the protective confines of the roll cage.

Seeing this setup was interesting, as my fire department does not use pump-and-roll operations. We are a suburban fire department with no significant wildland interface. As such, I began to research the issue to learn more.

The vehicle setup I have described is mentioned in National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1906, Standard for Wildland Fire Apparatus. NFPA 1906 describes how a vehicle that will be used for pump-and-roll operations must be designed and built. As you can imagine, it specifies such things as a roll cage, restraint system, and how the doors or gates must be designed to operate. Furthermore, the NFPA 1906 appendix discusses the circumstances that must be present when using pump and roll as a firefighting tactic. These circumstances are as follows:

  1. The apparatus is actively engaged in mobile attack on the fire line.
  2. The fuel model is characterized as fine fuels.
  3. The ground is level, flat, and free of obstacles.
  4. Driver visibility is unobstructed.
  5. Vehicle speeds are no greater than 10 miles per hour.
  6. The firefighter is wearing full protective NFPA 1977, Standard on Protective Clothing and Equipment for Wildland Fire Fighting, compliant PPE and is equipped with a fire shelter.

What is important to note is that while NFPA 1906 discusses how to design a vehicle equipped for pump-and-roll operations, NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety, Health, and Wellness Program, discusses how these operations should be discouraged in the first place (NFPA 1500, A.6.3.1). NFPA 1500 mentions the fact that several wildland firefighting organizations have declared that the “practice of firefighters riding on the outside of vehicles and fighting wildland fires from these positions is very dangerous, and they strongly recommend that this not be allowed.”

So, with all that being said, I am not about to debate this issue in such a short article. In the meantime, should your fire department engage in pump-and-roll operations, make sure that the vehicle and tactics you are using meet the requirements set forth in NFPA 1906. Furthermore, ensure that your drivers and firefighters exercise extreme caution and maintain complete situational awareness during the firefight.

 
 

The Ugly, the Bad, and the Good

BY ROBERT TUTTEROW

First, the Ugly: the “blacking” of apparatus on many of the rigs. Painting a Federal Q siren black is a violation of the 10 commandments of fire truck appearance.

Second, the Bad: the negative safety value to firefighters by the “blacking” of apparatus.

Third, the Good: FDIC International 2019 was awesome! I heard many vendors say it was the best one ever. The layout and design of the exhibits were spectacular. There was so much to see and reflect on. From an overall trend, the focus of contamination control was prevalent throughout the show. This trend revealed the most impressive new product I saw. It was a washing machine from Solo Rescue designed to wash SCBA as well as helmets, boots, and gloves. The price is high, north of $20,000. I really think a piece of equipment like this will be common in fire departments in the coming years, much like SCBA cylinder fill stations.

As for apparatus, the “Clean Cab Concept” was most prevalent, with easier-to-clean seats and flooring to HVAC filtration. I think we can go ahead and delete the word “concept” from this trend. It is real and should be here to stay. There is absolutely no downside and very minimal cost.

Another feature that seemed to be more prevalent than in previous years was the number of vertically mounted slide-out tool mounting panels. This design maximizes the cubic feet of storage available and makes tool accessibility much easier. No doubt the removal of SCBA from the cab by many departments, along with the need for preliminary contamination control equipment storage space, is partly driving more of this design.

From a technology perspective, MSA introduced LUNAR, a wireless, handheld device that includes thermal imaging, firefighter ranging, motion alarm, and cloud technology with GPS. It is clear that the SCBA will be the platform for almost all electronic PPE-related devices going forward.

Most eye-opening discussion: I learned that the Los Angeles City (CA) Fire Department has equipped each riding position with a Seek Reveal FirePro thermal imaging camera (TIC). Since it placed the units in service, search times have been reduced 50 percent. It appears this department is going a step further and might provide each firefighter with his own personal TIC. The units sell for around $700 each. I remember when TICs first came out. The cost was $25,000. This is more than a 97 percent price reduction! Don’t we wish other pieces of emergency response equipment could do likewise?

 Other pieces of firefighter safety wear that are becoming apparent are ballistic vests—bulletproof vests and helmets to protect firefighter and EMS personnel during active-shooter incidents. (Photo by Raul Angulo.)

4 Other pieces of firefighter safety wear that are becoming apparent are ballistic vests—bulletproof vests and helmets to protect firefighter and EMS personnel during active-shooter incidents. (Photo by Raul Angulo.)

Along with the technological advancements in TICs, aerial drones were significantly noticeable throughout the show floor. (Photo by Raul Angulo.)

5 Along with the technological advancements in TICs, aerial drones were significantly noticeable throughout the show floor. (Photo by Raul Angulo.)

Another product modification that was shown by at least three vendors was battery-powered positive-pressure ventilation (PPV) fans. A couple of the product lines, Blow Hard and Leader, used self-contained rechargeable batteries, while SuperVac used either DeWalt or Milwaukee 18-V batteries that are interchangeable with hand-held battery-operated power tools. The units were more compact, using less compartment space, and considerably lighter than gas-powered fans. All came equipped with shoulder straps for ease of carrying.

The value of FDIC International to the fire service cannot be overstated. It is where the fire service and the industry gather. In addition to the product displays and hundreds of educational sessions, the networking and thousands of formal and informal meetings that occur (yes, thousands) during the week are far superior to nonface-to-face communications. For me personally, I arrived at FDIC International with four meetings scheduled. When I left, I had attended more than a dozen. Most were short (only a few minutes), but all were most beneficial.

 
 

Tool and Equipment Roundup

BY RAUL A. ANGULO

GLOVES

What seemed to strike me while walking this year’s exhibits were the number of vendors who were selling gloves! There are gloves for everything now: structural firefighting, wildland firefighting, aircraft firefighting, urban search and rescue, auto extrication, swift water rescue, dive rescue, hazardous materials, vehicle maintenance gloves (for mechanics), and emergency medical services (EMS). In the EMS category, there are basically three different levels of protection related to puncture resistance against needles. And, then there’s the basic latex gloves for everyday janitorial housework.

BULLETPROOF VESTS AND BALLISTIC HELMETS

Other pieces of firefighter safety wear that are becoming apparent are ballistic vests—bulletproof vests and helmets to protect firefighters and EMS personnel during active-shooter incidents. I remember when the term “active shooter” was introduced to the fire service and thinking that this would be an extremely low-frequency event—how wrong I was. I would guess some fire departments have had more active-shooter incidents than hazmat incidents, a sad commentary on our society but a sober reminder of the dangers that firefighters and EMS personnel can face on any given day.

TICs

MSA has integrated a situational awareness TIC into the control module/air gauge readout unit for the SCBA G1 model. 3M Scott Fire & Safety developed the Scott Sight in-mask TIC that can be mounted to any AV-3000 HT face piece. The pro package offers a Hot-Spot Tracker that identifies the hottest part of the scene and displays its relative temperature, as well as a Cold-Spot Tracker that identifies the coldest part of the scene and displays its relative temperature. The pro package also has a thermal video recorder that automatically records all information shown on the in-mask display. Both units are hands-free situational awareness cameras that allow firefighters to see through smoke for search and rescue as well as for quick retreats without becoming disoriented when conditions suddenly change for the worse.

Low-end handheld situational awareness cameras start at about $200.00. The high-end decision-making cameras that are extremely sensitive to heat differentials and have all the bells and whistles, including high resolution, are best suited for size-up and search and rescue. These cameras can range upward of $3,000.00.

DRONES

Along with the technological advancements in TICs, aerial drones were significantly noticeable throughout the show floor. Digital cameras can be mounted to and carried by a drone that can transmit aerial views of the objective in real time to the command post below. Drones and cameras are being used for preincident planning, surveying and measuring roofs, and building collapse and disaster scene surveys by urban search and rescue teams. It won’t be long before they’re used for the 360-degree size-up by the first-in company officer. TICs can also be mounted to drones to show hot spots from an aerial perspective. They can be used to safely evaluate postfire roof conditions and structural stability without endangering the lives of firefighters.

 The “Clean Cab Concept” was a term often heard during FDIC International 2019, and this E-ONE rig was one of several that employs one or more of the components of this concept. (Photo by Chris Mc Loone.)

6 The “Clean Cab Concept” was a term often heard during FDIC International 2019, and this E-ONE rig was one of several that employs one or more of the components of this concept. (Photo by Chris Mc Loone.)

SILLY SMOKER

Jonathan Kaye, Ph.D., creator of SimsUShare (see “Smart Decision Making with Computer Fireground Simulators,” Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, April 2017) used his same fire simulator technology to develop and create a fun application (App) called Silly Smoker.

By snapping a photo or taking a video of your friends, enemies, or even truckies on your phone, you can add a variety of animated (but realistic) smoke, flames, steam, clouds, and explosions to the subject. Load the photo into the app, select the effect, and drag it on to the photo. Pinch and zoom to size the effects. Each effect can be customized by color and intensity by using the slider bar, and you can add a text message or title. Then you can save the image to your gallery, or send your Silly Smoker photo or video via message, or even post it on your social media page. So, instead of telling someone how you really feel, you can show them with Silly Smoker.

You can download the app for free from the Apple App Store or Google Play. You get four free animated effects with the free download, and for $1.99, you get nine more special effects with the ability to reedit and save your Silly Smoker images and video.

 
 

A Window into the Future

BY CARL J. HADDON

In retrospect, FDIC International 2019, as a whole, offered much more to the future of the American fire service than I’ve seen in prior years. My two “focused areas” of attention, if you will, are on technical rescue and rural fire department issues and concerns. Overall, I was pleased with the amount of “firefighter survival” based products and programs offered both in the available educational presentation offerings as well as on the trade show floor.

Let’s face it, our job as firefighters is NOT getting any easier, and it seems that not a week goes by that I/we aren’t notified of a brother or sister who has passed as a result of the job or has been diagnosed with a job-related cancer or other life-altering and career-ending disease or ailment. I was more than encouraged to see this issue being addressed by instructors and vendors alike. “EGH” or “Everyone Goes Home” was a common theme throughout the halls of FDIC this year. Presenters offered methods and tactics that allowed us to increase our awareness and defenses of occupational exposures and hazards. Vendors offered goods and services that allowed us more of an opportunity to protect ourselves while we knowingly sacrifice ourselves and our well-being for the sake of others whom we serve.

Everything from advances in PPE fabrics with toxin barriers to firefighting agents to lessen our exposure to toxic smoke and byproducts of combustion to on-scene decontamination products that allow us to minimize the bad stuff that is absorbed through our exposed skin was on display at FDIC 2019.

In addition to the educational component and commercially available goods and services to prolong our existence, I saw a great number of products on display that allow firefighters to be good stewards of our environment. Products that caught my eye and attention are those that offered solutions to the PFOA and PFOS (flourine) issues caused by traditional firefighting foams. Confined space, structural collapse, heavy rescue, and extrication stabilization products that are made from recycled plastics (with working load limits that traditional lumber does NOT offer) were a welcome sight.

Finally, new advances in hydraulic and battery-powered rescue tools that seem to offer new hope for better success in tackling ultra-high-strength metals and alloys found in today’s new vehicles were more than encouraging.

Overall, I saw this FDIC as a window into the future of our beloved fire service’s goods and products. I look forward to continuing the exploration into products and technology that help us to do a better and more efficient job while minimizing our exposures to the dangerous byproducts that we are exposed to daily while we go about our chosen profession.

 
 

Apparatus Is King at FDIC International

BY Richard MARINUCCI

There are a lot of people who have been attending FDIC International longer than I, and they have a continual streak of years attended. I have probably attended about 25 or so over the past 40-plus years. I must admit I continue to be impressed by the overall conference and the continual increase in attendance and vendors. In some ways, there is way too much for me to take in, and I left this year’s FDIC knowing I missed more than I took in. This emphasizes the need to be prepared and plan your activities so you hit the critical areas that are of most benefit to you.

There are different components to the show that offer education and training through various means. To start, there are preconference and H.O.T. sessions. As I was part of two precons, I don’t have any direct feedback on the H.O.T. sessions. What I will say is that there are a lot of dedicated people, instructors and attendees both, who are dedicated to the profession and commit significant time, energy, and expertise to the event. These are long days to start the week and are as popular as ever.

After the preconference sessions, there are general sessions and workshops for the remainder of the week. The workshops cover just about every topic applicable to the modern fire service. There is a mixture of veteran presenters and new instructors. The opportunities are endless it seems. The general session combines pomp and circumstance with the presentation of well-deserved awards and powerful keynote speakers. This part of the conference is worth the price of admission alone. You can’t leave there not being inspired and motivated to return to your jurisdiction intent on improving the services you provide.

Networking opportunities abound. This is one area where I wish I had more time. It seemed that I didn’t have the opportunity to meet everyone I wanted to speak with and missed seeing some folks I regularly and routinely see each year. With more than 35,000 attendees, it makes sense that I wouldn’t see everyone, but this year it seemed as though there were more people I didn’t see who I know were in attendance. It has reached a point that to make sure I have time with some individuals, I have to schedule an appointment.

The social aspect of the show cannot be discounted as part of the learning experience. While it offers a chance to kick back, it also provides a relaxed atmosphere to continue the day’s discussions or shift to specific issues relative to your experiences. There are various gatherings, some raising funds for worthwhile charities. Firefighters remain charitable in the support of these organizations. The parties accomplish both the need to socialize and support those in need.

The last aspect of the show is the exhibits. This is the most visible part of the show as the various manufacturers, suppliers, and service providers introduce their latest products to the fire service. It is quite a spectacle, and the sheer numbers make it impossible to see it all. You really have to be prepared and have a plan to spend the necessary time with the vendors applicable to your situation. It is easy to get caught up in the event and not get to the booths that you originally intended to visit. Of course, the aisles of the exhibits are more opportunities for networking, and often chats along the way eat up more time than looking at the products.

Speaking of products, there are a couple of observations. First, apparatus is king of the show. The manufacturers offer just about anything you could want or need and provide lots of options. Those in the market get a chance to compare and see what choices are available. Of course, with all the other booths, you need to be disciplined to stay on your plan. The apparatus manufacturers and component companies deserve a lot of credit for putting their best foot forward and committing to improving performance and quality. I realize that companies need to be profitable, but most have taken to assisting in improving the safety of firefighters. One big theme was the “Clean Cab Concept.” Manufacturers are following the lead of the industry in looking for ways to address the cancer epidemic. There are many options to consider, and it appears most, if not all, manufacturers are looking to be partners in reducing risk.

Besides the vehicles, many other displaying vendors were promoting health and wellness. There were many booths with information and products intended to reduce risks associated with the carcinogens faced during the course of doing one’s job. It is good to see this, and I also understand that this can be a business opportunity. There is always the need for “caveat emptor”—let the buyer beware. Some products have not been vetted and may not deliver on the promises. Fire service professionals know they need to do their research, and there are no silver bullets to fix everything. Still, there is value in constantly being reminded of the dangers of the job and things that can be done to reduce the risks while still allowing for the ability to serve the public.

All in all, I continue to be impressed with the entire package presented by FDIC International. Every aspect allows for learning opportunities. It is up to the individuals to find what presents the best value for them personally and for their organization. There is no way to experience everything that is available, but with good planning and preparation, you will add to your knowledge base in your profession.