This week, I attended the Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, Maryland for the first time in a number of years. Actually, the last time I attended this conference, I was a 16 year old Explorer with my volunteer department. It has seemed that since I started working at KFD, it has not worked out for me to get coverage to attend the conference due to it being mid-summer. Nonetheless, everything feel into place for me to make the trip this year with my good friends, Rhett Fleitz (FireCritic.com) and Cpt. Wines (IronFiremen.com).
Central Maryland F.O.O.L.S. Bash
We arrived in Baltimore on Thursday evening and were able to settle in to the hotel before heading to the Central Maryland F.O.O.L.S. Bash that evening. The event location was prime as they had the street closed down and incorporated several pups down the block. As soon as we arrived, we started networking with brothers from all across the country. The Pipes and Drums Band were serenading the crowd with music, and seemed to capture everyones attention as always. We met brothers from North Carolina, South Carolina, and caught up with a number of friends. One friend that I spent some time with at the F.O.O.L.S. Bash was Rob Weidman from FDNY Rescue 2. Most of you should be familiar with Rob and all of the great work that he is doing now with the Sons of the Flag. If you aren’t familiar, click here to see how they are making a difference.
The photos above were taken by Brother Stanley Jaworski of DCFD. Click here to view all of Stanley Jaworski’s Photos from the Brotherhood Bash!
It was a great time to meet many brothers and sisters from across the country that have been following the site. Not only did I catch up with a few friends, but it was also nice to finally meet several others that operate websites that I follow regularly. I was able to meet the guys from PhillyFireNews.com, SConFire.com, The Leatherhead Mafia, Firefighter Toolbox, VentEnterSearch, and several others. As always, we were able to share stories and network a bit over a few drinks.
NFFF 9/11 Stair Climb
The National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation hosts a number of 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb’s across the country throughout the year, and I always try to participate in the climb if I am attending the conference where one is being held. This year, the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb was held at the Hilton in Downtown Baltimore. Firefighters from across the country climbed 110 floors in memory of our brothers that were killed on 9/11.
While I haven’t heard the exact total number of climbers, I can say there was a great turnout. The ceremony started off by the presentation of colors from the Honor Guard and the singing of the National Anthem. Baltimore City Fire Chief Niles Ford made an appearance and shared a few words with the participants. The climbers then gathered into their teams and marched across the street to begin the climb. Each firefighter struck the bell and stated the fallen firefighter that he/she was climbing for before assending the stairs. I gathered with the four brothers on my team, and we each rang the bell before announcing the name…
Ding! Firefighter Robert Hamilton from FDNY Squad 41.
After the climb, I always research information about the individual that I carried to the top. Firefigher Robert Hamilton was 43 years old when he was killed at the World Trade Center site on 9/11. He was known for always giving back, and not only on the job. Every Thanksgiving, FF Hamilton would help a local church near his firehouse cook yams for nearly 400 senior citizens. It is also said that he was known to help local children repair their bicycles at the firehouse. Hamilton is survived by his wife, two children, his parents, and three siblings.
Firehouse Expo Exhibits
The exhibit floor is not only one of the best place for firefighters to see the latest and greatest of a variety products and services offered for the fire service, but also gives them a chance to get their hands on the product! We spent the majority of the day walking the show floor. It was great to see all the familiar faces that I typically see at the trade shows.
- ESS EyePro recently released their newest Rollbar sunglasses. While I have worn ESS EyePro in the past, I had to stop by the booth to pick them up.
- I was able to catch up with our brothers with Phenix Fire Helmets that were showcasing their newest leather helmet, the TL-2 Miller.
- Lori Mercer with FireFighterWife.com and her crew had a very busy booth where they were passing out information on the programs that they have available for all of the fire wives out there.
- The guys from Hooks and Irons apparel seemed to have a popular booth with all of their apparel items. While I have a few of their shirts, this was the first time that I was able to meet them.
- I also ran into Robbie Owens (Average Jake Firefighter) and his wife. They were in town for the day and working the show floor as well.
Firehouse Expo Street Party
The event for the evening was the Firehouse Expo Street Party at Pickles Pub near Camdem Yards. Unfortunately the Orioles were on the road this week, so there wasn’t a game to attend. The Street Party was once again full of familiar faces, and there was a live band, food, and drinks. What else do you need? Cpt. Wines and The Fire Critic attended the event for a bit and we were able to enjoy our meal with a great band playing in the background.
The “3-time High School Bullriding Champion” Cpt. Willie Wines Jr.
Thanks to our friends at Box Alarm Leather, LLC, Andrew and Mary Arnold, we headed to the Power Plant Live immediately after the street party. While it was my first time there, it obviously wasn’t Cpt. Wines’. He showed me the ropes as he headed straight to the PBR. If you were in town, it was no problem following Cpt. Wines around…all I had to do is follow the rather large cowboy hat! While it was hard to believe that they weren’t wearing their fire helmets and “dresses” all weekend, Cpt. Wines wore his cowboy hat the majority of the weekend. We ended up spending time with old and new friends for the evening! I almost forgot, the “3-time High school Bullriding Champion” Cpt. Wines did climb on the mechanical bull before calling it a night…
The entire trip was well worth the ride to Baltimore and the time off from work. As Cpt. Wines and myself headed back on Sunday, we stopped by Silver Springs, Maryland to spend some time with the brothers in MCFR Station 1. The guys gave us a tour of the station and we had the chance to look at all of the different examples of PRIDE they are showing. I will be covering our stop there in a follow up post soon!
CLICK HERE TO READ Cpt. Wines’ Recap of the trip in: Dave Statter “Scores” at Baltimore Expo… or does he?