By Chris Mc Loone
If you’re a firefighter attending the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), taking place annually in Indianapolis, Indiana, you are looking forward to the most intense training available and leave undoubtedly feeling better about your skillset than when you came, and hopefully are anxious to share what you have learned with the rest of your department.
Hands-On Training (HOT) evolutions are always popular and these classes fill up quickly. Because of the relationships with the Indianapolis Fire Department and surrounding communities, FDIC enjoys resources unavailable to most conferences. Acquired structures, salvage yard use, working farms for grain elevator emergency training, and fire academy facilities are just some of the luxuries afforded to HOT attendees. Sometimes, acquired structures end up being in residential neighborhoods. When this is the case, there is an impact that firefighters might not realize.
This year, Mike Ciampo, lead instructor for Truck Company: Essentials, arranged for his instructors and students to give back to the neighborhood around it.
This class took place in a downtrodden neighborhood. Noticing on the first day that there were kids in the house next door to the one in use by FDIC, Ciampo arranged for the students and instructors to pool unused portions of their boxed lunches to make “care packages” for the kids. “We asked their mother if it would be okay if we left some treats for the kids,” says Ciampo. “I told the guys, ‘don’t throw away anything you don’t eat.’ So, we separated the food and left it on their porch. I hated to see the food go to waste.”
Not only was this about not letting food go to waste, but according to Ciampo, it’s about influencing the kids. “We’re firefighters. By doing this, we’re establishing a bond, and letting the kids know they don’t’ have to be afraid of firefighters—that we are regular people. When they’re that little, you make an impression on them.” And, the group did make an impression. The second day of HOT, the young girl from the family brought out a card for “Fireman Mike.” It was just a small gesture, but one which the kids in the neighborhood will remember forever. As Anthony Kastros said his opening ceremony keynote on April 24, “Heroes don’t just save lives; they shape lives. Heroes still exist. You are today’s heroes.” Ciampo’s HOT team and students became heroes to the kids of Indianpolis, Indiana this year.
By Chris Mc Loone