After taking a day to fully recover and wrap my mind around all the events and activities of FDIC 2014, I wanted to share a few of the highlights with my readers. It seems that the website has added a few followers since this past week in Indy, and I appreciate all of the new readers following along. A little over a year ago, I started this blog as a means of documenting highlights in my career and sharing personal experiences with others. For the first time at Indy this year, it was truly humbling to have a few followers ask for a few photographs and for the opportunity to hand out a few challenge coins/business cards out to members of the fire service who may potentially follow along in the future. FDIC is by all means one of the busiest trips that I make each year, and this year was no exception.
I had the pleasure of travelling to Indy in the “blog mobile” with Cpt. Willie Wines of IronFiremen.com, Rhett Fleitz (The Fire Critic), and Preston Wiley from Louisa County Fire. I made the drive from East Tennessee up to the Roanoke Valley on Tuesday evening, and was treated to a relaxing evening with the Wines family. After 3 hours in the hot tub (I thought we weren’t supposed to stay in those things longer than 15 minutes), I was exhausted and ready for the busy week ahead of us. The Fire Critic arrived early the next morning, and we headed up to Princeton, WV to grab Preston before making the trek to Indy.
As soon as we arrived in Indy, we headed over to The Crane Bay to complete a walk through with our First Arriving Network owners and a few sponsors. As soon as we walked in the venue, we knew that it was going to be a BIG event! The LED columns, the white leather couches, and the stage really set the place apart from last years event (The Fire Critic/ Iron Firemen Meet-up). A few final details were discussed and the layout/menu was set-up for the Firefighter Turnout event that we would be hosting on Friday night.
Indy Metro 2014 F.O.O.L.S. Brotherhood Bash
The highlight of Wednesday evening is always the F.O.O.L.S. Brotherhood Bash that is hosted by the Indy Metro F.O.O.L.S. This year was no different from any of the years past in that the event was the place to be. Many different F.O.O.L.S. chapters from across the country set-up tables inside of a huge tent to sale their shirts, patches, coins, and merchandise. This is a big event and a great fundraiser for all the F.O.O.L.S. chapters in attendance.
The Renegade Pipes and Drums, the band consisted of pipers and drummers from all across the country, always get the party started by serenading everyone with their music, having a moment of silence, and making a toast. If you have never heard them play, it’s truly breathtaking to hear. Afterwards, there was music on the stage for entertainment, drinks to be consumed, and a lot of networking with brothers from across the country. I was able to meet-up with several friends and hang out in the Valley of the F.O.O.L.S booth for a while.
For the next three days, the exhibits were open in the Convention Center and next door in the Lucas Oil Stadium. Even though the exhibits were open for three days, I didn’t feel that I had nearly enough time to walk around and see everything. For the first time, I was able to actually help out in a few booths (TECGEN XTREME gear and Black Diamond Boots). While it was great to help out with the busy exhibits, it limited the time that I had to just browse around.
I was in the TECGEN XTREME booth from 3p-4p on Thursday, and was able to showcase the Extrication/Wildland/Technical Rescue NFPA compliant gear for interested parties that stopped by. The gear is so lightweight and comfortable that I even wore it while running in the Courage & Valor 5K and climbing during the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation’s 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.
On Saturday, I was able to help fill in at the Black Diamond Boot booth for The Fire Critic who had a family engagement to attend. I helped brothers and sisters that stopped by the booth try on the most comfortable boot on the market. I’ve been wearing the Black Diamond X2’s for nearly two years now, and can’t see myself switching anytime soon! While I was helping out, I even had a few brothers stop by and ask for a photo that follow the blog.
Away from my time in the exhibit booths, I was able to stop by and see the crew at MN8 Foxfire and check out their new Flashlight Cuff’s that glow. I was finally able to catch up with Jodi Monroe of Firefighter Art and see a few of her prints. Our friends at Crosstitched made the trip down from New York to showcase their t-shirts and products. The Phenix Fire Helmet crew had a booth that stayed packed with everyone checking out their lightweight leather lids and the new TL-2 Miller 1884 helmet that I hope to purchase soon. I was also able to catch up with Jim Plieth of the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation as they were walking around to raffle off a Bunker Kilt. As always, I was introduced to many other great companies that offer varies products for the fire service including the brothers at the Demers Ambulance booth that unveiled their new fire-based EMS ambulance, the MXP170.
There was one thing that I am now able to mark off of my Bucket List: Meeting Chief Billy Goldfeder. Out of chance, I was walking through the Convention Center and saw Chief signing copies of his new book, Pass It On. I knew that this was one thing that I couldn’t “pass”, so I quickly purchased two copies and found a spot in line. He was taking the time to speak with each person in line and sign a few personal words into the inside of the book for them. As I approached him and introduced myself, he glanced down at my badge and said, “Andrew, I’ve seen your website. Keep up the great work!” WHAT? He had seen the site? I took the time to ask him to be featured in one of the Blowin’ Smoke articles that I feature on the site, and he quickly accepted. STAY TUNED for what will be a great interview that I look forward to sharing!
Here are a few photos from the Exhibit Hall floor: