Commentary, Leadership

What Did You Miss?

Ron Kanterman

Chief Kanterman’s Journal Entry 59

Last week was supposed to have been the week when the nation’s fire service comes together to share ideas, thoughts, training, opinions and the brotherhood at FDIC International in Indianapolis. While I look forward to this week every year, this year was especially important for me as I missed last year’s FDIC due to major back surgery. It never gets old for me, even after 30 FDICs. However, the old adag “if you want to make God laugh, show him your plans” is more prudent today than ever before. While we’re all on hold, I couldn’t help but reflect on what “would have been” last week for me and 37,000 others. If you’ve never been to FDIC, well……………….you need to go and you may not understand what’s written below, but for you regulars out there, I think you’ll know what I mean.

I missed:

  • Seeing people I only get to see once a year. What I call our annual family reunion.
  • The opening ceremonies with all of its pomp and circumstance, the pipes and drums, the tribute to our fallen, and Bobby Halton’s annual message, brought to us with passion, vim, vigor, love, heart, and lots of caffeine.
  • The Tuesday night fund-raiser for the Firefighter Cancer Support Network billed as “Comedy vs. Cancer.” I have the honor of hosting the show each year and bringing out some of the best comics in the land but I miss the fact that the FSCN lost an opportunity to raise money. Please, don’t forget them.
  • Teaching my workshop on Monday; “Safety Leadership; From the Firehouse to the Fire Ground.” The opportunity to reach more people with a safety and health message they can bring home and share with their colleagues. The banter, the Q&A and the exchange of ideas. Continue to “think safety” whether or not you recently took a class.
  • Hanging out in the Instructor’s Ready Room and catching up with my fellow presenters. I never fail to learn something through mere conversation over a cup of coffee. Catching up with Diane, Ginger and M.J. Priceless.
  • Walking the halls of the Indiana Convention Center and taking in the electricity of the moment.
  • Popping in and out of classrooms, listening to the instructors and getting something new at every turn. I realize every year that for as long as we’re in this business, we can still learn something. When you think you’ve got all of it, it’s time to go.
  • The faces of the major award recipients; Fire Engineering Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award and the Gorge D. Post Instructor of the Year Award. Year after year as I sit and look at their faces, they read the same way. “I can’t believe I’m here getting this and I’m sure it should have gone to someone else.” That’s what makes the recipients worthy in the first place.
  • Stop, Drop, Rock and Roll on Thursday night at the Indiana Rooftop Ballroom, sponsored by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. The good times, the auction, the live music and the brotherhood. Yet another lost opportunity for fund raising for an all-important fire service organization. Don’t forget the NFFF.
  • Walking the show floor and looking for that new invention, that innovative tool and what it may mean for the future of the fire service.
  • Stopping in the hotel lounge at the end of the day and spotting friends and colleagues and having a night cap while catching up on life, family, the job and solving the world’s problems.

I’m not sure when the next FDIC will be but I’ll count down the days like I always do. In the meantime, keep in touch with everyone you know and love and be well, stay well and be safe.

Ronnie K