Editor’s Opinion: Keeping FDIC International a Platform for Discussion

With FDIC International 2020, the fire service trade show season officially opens.
Chris Mc Loone

Many articles have been written and videos produced by presenters, show management, and attendees covering the importance of this event, which is the largest fire service conference and exhibition in North America.

At Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, our primary focus at the show is on the new fire apparatus and equipment on display on the show floor. There are a few examples from recent years that provide a glimpse into how important FDIC International is from a product introduction and innovation perspective and how interesting it is to watch products go from the design/concept phase to market-ready and witness firsthand how FDIC International is a platform for discussion for these products.

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At FDIC International 2017, Rosenbauer held an invitation-only event the night before the exhibits opened. Invitees were given a chance to get a first look at what it calls its Concept Fire Truck (CFT). There were many technological aspects to the truck, the most notable of which was its electric drive. Rosenbauer personnel were on site to answer questions but also to ask questions. They were quick to explain that what we saw then was not a final product but one still being developed. It was there to generate discussion.

Three years later, Rosenbauer took the current version of the CFT on tour in the Western United States. Rosenbauer demonstrated the rig to many California departments in the beginning of the year. By the end of February, Rosenbauer announced that the Los Angeles (CA) Fire Department (LAFD) had placed an order for a pre series vehicle based on the CFT. It is the first service in North America to place an order for one.

I am looking very forward to seeing how the LAFD adapts the CFT to its needs and its citizens’ needs. We saw the CFT in 2017. It will be back in 2020. And, hopefully, we’ll see the LAFD iteration of this fire apparatus in 2021.

The second example goes back to FDIC International 2019 and is related to our February article covering a Boston (MA) Fire Department (BFD) field test of MSA’s LUNAR.

Visitors to MSA’s booth at FDIC International 2019 were introduced to its LUNAR product, a standalone, cloud-based unit using a combination of WiFi and LTE wireless communications technologies to deliver constant tracking, monitoring, and accountability of a firefighter when activated. It was very much a concept last year. There weren’t any functioning prototypes yet, but MSA had a rendering of what it would look like and promoted it at the show. At a recent visit to MSA’s headquarters, I received a short demonstration of LUNAR and a presentation on its features. You’ll be hearing more about LUNAR soon.

Another product from FDIC International 2019 is SAM, an integrated total water flow control system that manages your truck’s pump, tank, intakes, and discharges, brought to market by IDEX Corp. Already we are starting to see departments incorporate this system into their pumper specs.

Going back even a few more years to FDIC International 2015, Pierce revealed its Ascendant 107-foot aerial, which in about a year’s time became the company’s most popular aerial introduction to date.

While, to a certain extent, this is shameful self-promotion, my reason for bringing these examples up is to illustrate the importance of this event. It’s not just “a show” or “a conference.” Much of what you see tomorrow is going start at FDIC right after a company develops it. Companies aren’t just looking to show and sell here. They want to know what you think—good and bad. Feedback MSA gleaned in 2019 was put to use immediately as it built prototypes that were later field tested by departments like the BFD. Everything MSA learned in Boston has been digested, and you can be sure that the observations from Boston’s Jakes are going to be incorporated into what we get to see at this year’s event.

But, you’re not going? It doesn’t matter. Pay attention during that week to everything we cover online. Write down your questions and opinions, and let the vendors know what you think and what you want to learn about the products. In doing so, whether you can be there or not, you are ensuring that FDIC International remains a platform for discussion.

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