It’s hard to believe more than two years have passed since we last gathered in Indianapolis for the annual Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) International.
But the wait is almost over. In just a few short weeks, thousands of firefighters will be headed to what could be described as Mecca for firefighters.
For serious firefighters, attending FDIC is like a rite of passage. It’s the biggest trade show of its kind in North America and one of the largest in the world. Manufacturers and vendors from all segments of the fire service industry gather in one place that’s easy to get to for nearly everyone on the planet.
In addition to seeing more vendors, products, and apparatus in one place than virtually anywhere, FDIC offers outstanding education throughout the conference in both hands-on and classroom settings. In fact, some of our long-time authors will be teaching classes, including Bill Peters, retired battalion chief from the Jersey City (NJ) Fire Department. Bill is an icon in the fire apparatus world, and he’ll be teaching a four-hour, comprehensive class on apparatus purchasing, covering everything from specification decision making to final inspection and delivery.
Long-time author Christopher Daly, a retired firefighter and EMT from the Goshen (PA) Fire Department, will also be teaching a class on advanced emergency vehicle operations not normally covered in similar classes.
Two other authors, Raul Angulo, retired captain from the Seattle (WA) Fire Department, and Carl Haddon, retired deputy chief of the North Fork (ID) Fire Department, will also be teaching at FDIC. Angulo will be covering drills you won’t find in the books and Haddon will be covering new vehicle extrication, including electric vehicles.
For me, being the editor of the trucks and equipment publication, it’s the show floor that gets me pumped up. For various reasons, including a pandemic, I haven’t been to FDIC for more than three years and, boy, do I need a fix. There’s nothing like it around anywhere. Period. From the moment you set foot in downtown Indianapolis, you can tell something special is going on. Banners span streets and intersections. Streetlights are adorned with signs welcoming firefighters. Restaurants and watering holes advertise specials for first responders, and there’s festive spirit in the air. And that’s all before you set foot in the convention center.
FDIC is a time to catch up with old friends, make new ones, and talk shop for almost a whole week. Those who want to get their “learn” on can head straight to the classrooms and be educated by some of the foremost authorities on their given subjects in the nation. Others can head straight to the show floors to see more brand-new apparatus in one place than virtually any place else on earth. And each apparatus features the newest and best technology and innovation the industry can provide.
If you’re into the loose equipment that goes into the cabinets of the big shiny trucks, there’s a LOT of that too. Everything from spanner wrenches to state-of-the-art rescue tools, it’s all there and, in most cases, the people who invented and built the trucks and equipment are there too, available to talk about and demonstrate their products.
Turnout gear, SCBA, radio and communications equipment, nozzles, extrication tools, lights, monitors, station furniture and equipment, portable pumps, alarm systems, station designs, extinguishers, and various suppression agents are just some of the items to be viewed, touched, demonstrated, and even purchased in some cases. I guarantee there will be several demonstrations that will stop you in your tracks and draw you in to learn more. It happens to me every year, and I’ve been going for 20 years or so.
I might be carrying on a bit with my enthusiasm for FDIC, but it truly is an event not to be missed. It’s hard to overstate the variety and quantity of everything fire related that can be seen on the showroom floors. And we can’t forget the Lucas Oil Stadium, which is an impressive structure, worthy of a visit, never mind the vendors and products displaying their wares within.
After a one-year forced hiatus thanks to COVID-19, there is sure to be an abundance of items that will more than likely make you go, “WOW.”
Make plans to go this year. You owe it to yourself to go at least once in your career. After more than a year of being cooped up, why not make 2021 your year to go to “Mecca,” catch some classes, and see all the latest the fire service industry has to offer?
Oh, and by the way, FDIC runs from August 2-7, with the exhibition halls and outdoor demonstrations open August 5-7.
Make your reservations, and see you there.