FDSOA Apparatus Specification and Maintenance Symposium

Michael Petroff


The dictionary defines “symposium” as a meeting or conference for discussion of a topic, especially one in which the participants form an audience and make presentations.


The annual Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) Apparatus Specification and Maintenance Symposium truly embodies that definition. One attendee describes the symposium as the best fire service gathering because of the mix of people involved in planning, presenting, and attending. Participants are both presenters and audience, discussing apparatus design, maintenance, regulatory standards, and new innovations. The annual event is the only conference dedicated to providing a better understanding of fire apparatus by bringing together end users, leading industry figures, and apparatus and equipment manufacturers. The 2015 event marks the symposium’s 27th anniversary. Although the basic format of the program remains, a new era begins with the addition of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment magazine as its official publication.

An old radio station said its news broadcast presented the facts by describing who, what, where, when, why, and how. A description of the FDSOA Apparatus Symposium, following that format, goes something like the following.


Attendees include fire chiefs, safety officers, apparatus purchasing team members, EMS personnel, and vehicle maintenance technicians. Presenters include that same group plus apparatus manufacturers, accessories and tool suppliers (from bumper to bumper), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) specialists, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health investigators.


The Symposium is a unique chance to learn, ask questions, and network. It provides an opportunity to stay current with the latest developments in apparatus and ambulance safety and to be the first to hear about pending changes and proposed standards. This knowledge will help guide you in making decisions regarding one of your department’s most expensive assets-its vehicle fleet.

In cooperation with the National Association of Emergency Vehicle Technicians, emergency vehicle technicians can take various certification tests.

Attendees can view new innovation exhibits, meet with manufacturers and discuss their products, and ask questions about maintenance or installation of their product.

In 2015, the keynote address will be presented by Gordon Graham, an internationally known speaker on risk management. Additional sessions will include avoiding pitfalls in specification development, the political side of apparatus acquisition, commonly overlooked maintenance items, vehicle accident loss expense, accident avoidance systems, NFPA updates, and ultra high pressure water and foam systems.

Where? When?

The 2015 Apparatus Specification and Maintenance Symposium will take place at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista Resort, 1850 Hotel Plaza Boulevard, Orlando, Florida, on January 18 to 20.


The best testimonial for why to attend comes from comments made by past participants. Comments include the following:

  • “The greatest value for me is the networking opportunity, and that only works when the significant players, or maybe survivors, are around the table.
  • “This has to be a significant event for the big players in the industry to have face time with the nuts-and-bolts guys who are involved in buying and using their products. They can wine and dine chiefs at other events, but this should be the place to talk to the guys who write the specs.”
  • “The opportunity should be priceless. This is where I come to get real technical information.”


How does the symposium come to fruition? The Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association’s Technical Committee and the FDSOA executive board and management staff plan the program. Attendees and presenters, as an audience, hear and discuss relevant topics related to the safe operation, informed purchase, and prudent maintenance of emergency apparatus from aerials to all-terrain vehicles.

Registration for the event can be done at www.fdsoa.org by clicking on the events drop-down menu, and selecting “2015 Apparatus Specifications and Maintenance Symposium.”

The value of this event lies in the inclusion of those involved in designing, building, maintaining, and using fire and EMS apparatus, with the goal of improving all aspects of apparatus safety and reducing line-of-duty injuries and deaths.

MICHAEL PETROFF is the chairman of the board of directors of the Fire Department Safety Officers Association (FDSOA) and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Everyone Goes Home program Region VII Regional Advocate. A retired battalion chief with the Ferguson (MO) Fire Department, he started his fire service career as a volunteer in 1971. He has a bachelor of science degree in industrial education and an associate degree in fire protection technology and is a State of Missouri Certified Instructor III, Fire Officer II, and ProBoard Certified Incident Safety Officer-Fire Suppression.

No posts to display