FDIC 2016: Giving Back

I wrote this column for the New Jersey FMBA.  I reprinted it here because I like it.

This column is being written from my hotel room in Indianapolis where I have the great privilege of attending and speaking at the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference (FDIC International). This is the Disneyland for firefighters, the Greatest Show on Earth for the fire service, and a great place to meet new and old friends, conduct beer mug case study, and recharge your love for the job.  If you have been here in the past, you know.  If you have not, you need to get out here.  There is nothing that even comes close to this great experience.



Some 35,000 firefighters make the pilgrimage each year to hear the best of the best (who by the way, like all of us, had to start somewhere). Where else can you go and get to hear Norman, Brunacini, Gagliano, Dunn, Dodson, Halton, Goldfeder, Lasky, Buchanan, Norwood, Ricci, Duffy, and many, many others all in one place.  If you don’t know these names, get your head back in the books because you need it.  There is never a time when your fire service career training ends.  The subjects being discussed here are wide and varied.  There are not only first rate hands-on classes, some of which are taught by the brothers and sisters from the great state of New Jersey, but there are classroom sessions for any topic you can think of, from tactics and strategies to leadership to building construction to extrication to….you get it……or you should.  There are also firefighter combat challenges, a stair run in Lucas Oil Stadium, a benefit 5K, vendors from all over the world selling everything fire, and of course, the great night life where we do what we do best…talk about the job.

I have been coming here since 1999 and every year I learn something new and different. It is a place where we come together to honor those who have made the supreme sacrifice and gain valuable information and lessons learned so that we (and our teammates) do not become the next statistics. I have had the privilege to stand before my peers and share with them some of the lessons I have learned form the New Jersey fireground and find out how I could have and can do better from the fireground experience across the country and world.  This happens nowhere else in the world.

I have found that this conference is a chance to give back to the service that has been so good to me for over thirty years. New Jersey is well represented out here as well.  The fire environment we work in, and the congestion of our cities along with the staffing issues, present challenges to NJ firefighters that very fire departments across the country have had the chance to experience.  Many a class is filled when New Jersey’s bravest step out onto the stage.


Hands-on training with some of the best firefighters in the country. Nowhere but the FDIC!

While this conference features the elite of the fire service, they all had their start somewhere, at that first FDIC where they shared the passion for the job, the same passion many of you have. What am I trying to say here?  I am saying that all of you dedicated, passionate firefighters across the great state of New Jersey belong here with the rest of the dedicated American and international fire service (there are people from all over the world here).  I am not just talking as a student.  I am talking as a speaker / instructor as well.  If you have something you would like to say, something you have passion for, I challenge you all to fill out the Call for Papers when it comes out in July and submit a class offer.  That is what I did…and they took a chance on me, to which I am forever grateful.  So did Terpak, Nasta, Viscuso, Kanterman, Riker, Murphy, Alvarez, Berchtold, Bloomer, Hopson, and a host of others who are out here giving back and passing it on.  Someone gave me a chance in 1999 and it changed my career.  Maybe you are thinking the same way.  Go for it.  There might be someone out there who learns just a little something from you that might save their life.

This is not an advertisement for the FDIC….not my style. It is something that too many miss out on simply because they have not been exposed.  Get here once, you will always come back.

Questions, comments, column suggestions, kudos, or criticism – email is deputy1@optonline.net

Tune in with me and Chief Jim Duffy from Wallingford, CT to Fire Engineering Blog Talk radio for Fireground Strategies and Other Stuff from the Street. Out next show is May 2


QOTM: The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires. ~William Arthur Ward


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