FDIC Conference Director Diane Rothschild recently spoke with Battalion Chief Michael Walker, Oklahoma City (OK) Fire Department, who is keynoting during the FDIC 2013 General Session on “The Fireman’s Standard” about the whole FDIC “experience.”
DR: What does keynoting at FDIC mean to you?
MW: The opportunity is a pinnacle for me. It is difficult to fully express how honored I feel. To be able to address my peers at such a prestigious event is more than I ever dreamed I would ever be able to accomplish.
DR: How did you pick your keynote topic?
MW: As soon as Chief Halton asked me to deliver the keynote, I knew what I was going to speak about. In today’s time of competing priorities, I felt I needed to encourage the audience to remember the primary purpose of the fire service and to never forget our honored and noble commitment.
DR: How long have you been teaching the fire service? How did you get into instructing?
MW: I started teaching about 20 years ago. My family has been teachers for generations and that is probably why fire service instruction came naturally to me. When I got assigned to the city’s hazmat team, one of our responsibilities was to teach hazmat refreshers to the rest of the department. As time went by and I gained more experience, the officers allowed me to take a bigger role in the classes. It didn’t take long for me to realize how much I enjoyed teaching. I realized I learned the most when I had to teach it, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing my students succeed.
DR: How many years have you been attending FDIC? What do you look forward to at FDIC each year?
MW: This will be my fourth year being part of FDIC. It has become an annual pilgrimage for me that I look forward to. Meeting firefighters who truly love the job and the brotherhood recharges me, and the lessons I learn every year have helped me to be a better firefighter and chief.
DR: What message would you like to give to a first-time attendee or to someone who has never been to FDIC?
MW: Take every class you can, visit every booth, and take part of the social time. You can sleep next week! The instructors are excellent, and you will be amazed at what you will learn. I’m blown away every year by what FDIC offers.
DR: What do you think is the most pressing issue in the fire service, why, and what can be done about it?
MW: I believe the standards for acceptable performance have to be raised because of the challenges today’s firefighters face at structure fires. Lighter weight construction, increased security measures on the doors, and heavier fuel loads within the buildings demand that firefighters be able to operate effectively within the “narrowed margins” of interior operation possibilities. In other words, the buildings collapse faster, the doors are harder to force, and the fire grows quicker, but we still have people to rescue. Firefighters today must rise to these challenges and be more capable in every aspect of the job than their predecessors. The training firefighters need to accomplish this must be appropriately challenging and readily available.
Keynote for General Session
Thursday, April 25, 2013
8:00 am-10:00 am
Indiana Convention Center
The Fireman’s Standard
Battalion Chief Michael Walker, Oklahoma City (OK) Fire Department
Being satisfied with minimal effort isn’t enough; in fact, a “minimum” is just one small step above inadequate. This keynote will present the importance of the standard that firefighters must aspire to and why you must continue to raise that standard for the benefit of your brother and sister firefighters as well as the citizens you serve.
Michael Walker is a 23-year veteran of the Oklahoma City (OK) Fire Department. During his tenure, he has served as a training officer, hazardous materials officer, and technical rescue officer. Walker is also the assistant fire coordinator for Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center Fire Training. He has been published in Fire Engineering, Fire-Rescue, and Urban Firefighter magazines. This is his fourth year presenting at FDIC.