Editor’s Opinion | Chris Mc Loone
Well, as we covered earlier in the year, normalcy will still be hard to come by during 2021, and the most recent news for us is that FDIC International has been postponed until August 19-24, 2021.
So many in the fire service look forward to April every year to recharge their batteries in Indianapolis, Indiana; meet old friends; and make new friends. This year, as we try to regain normal operations, we’ll have to wait until the second half for our favorite event. And, it’s not too bad a wait if you really think about it. In the meantime, there are numerous digital alternatives, the most dynamic of which is the FDIC Product Network (www.fdicproductnetwork.com). All year, we’ll be bringing you live demonstrations of the newest products and will provide you with an opportunity to connect with representatives from a variety of manufacturers one on one to get all your questions answered. It’s really an experience, and it’s been a pleasure being a part of it.
I wrote last month about being ready to jump, and that still holds true as we work to get back to what life was like before COVID-19. As I look back, it was this month where most everything changed last year. I was in North Carolina at the headquarters for HiViz LED Lighting doing an Unbox Video for a light tower that featured HiViz lights specifically designed for the application. I fly out of the Philadelphia International Airport, and I had never seen it as dead as it was flying to and from North Carolina. I returned home, and by the end of the week my kids were being told they’d be going to an all-virtual learning platform. Talk about being ready to jump! The faculties of my sons’ schools certainly had prepared themselves to jump if they needed. And thus, the oddest year I’ve ever experienced began.
As I write this, I am hopeful that as a firefighter I will be able to be vaccinated soon. We expect to be able to sign up soon. It was some time during the summer of 2020 that I began to wonder if we would be in exactly the same spot in March 2021 that we were in March 2020. Luckily hybrid learning models have emerged, as well as optional 100% in-person learning or 100% virtual. My wife and I were ready to jump and opted to send our youngest to 100% in person. So far, so good.
During 2021, municipal budgets may begin to tighten. Windows of opportunity could be few and far between to make purchases. Money isn’t going to be this “cheap” forever. Be on the lookout for opportunities to make the capital expenditures you’ve been waiting to make, and when the opportunity arrives to better your personnel or your department, don’t be afraid to jump to take advantage of it. 2021, at least the first part of it, isn’t a bad time to put in orders for fire apparatus if your department is in a position to do so. And, don’t forget there are many reputable preowned fire apparatus dealers who can help you and your department make an educated decision on a preowned rig if you decide to go that way.
One of the scariest yet exciting things in the fire service is moving up the ladder. No matter your rank, as you move through your career, you are going to be expected to lead. Whether you are the senior firefighter on the shift, the firehouse boss, or the budding firehouse boss, don’t be afraid to jump into the role. Opportunities to move up in the ranks don’t happen every day. Prepare yourself. Keep mental notes as you move about your daily tasks. Think about the leader you want to be, even it’s as simple as saying, “I don’t want to be that guy.” You might not get the nod your first time around. Don’t be discouraged; be ready to jump the next time.
Just as an update about my fire company’s old American LaFrances (ALFs). As I write this, our two engines are for sale. As soon as one goes, the option to bring one of the old ALFs home, even for a little while, is still a very real possibility. We’ve got a number of options in front of us. We just have to be ready to jump when the time comes.