FDIC International 2019: Interview with Bill Gustin

Bill Gustin teaching at FDIC

FDIC Conference Director Diane Rothschild recently spoke with Captain Bill Gustin of Miami-Dade (FL) Fire Rescue, who will be the recipient of the 2019 Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award at the FDIC International 2019 Opening Ceremony Day 2, about the whole FDIC “experience.”

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DR: How long have you been teaching/attending FDIC International?

BG: Since the mid-1990s.

DR: How did you get into instructing in general?

BG: I began teaching my department’s recruit classes in 1983.

DR: What sets your experience at FDIC International apart from attending other conferences?

BG: The enormous size of the conference–its broad range of classes and hands-on topics and the opportunity to meet firefighters from throughout North America and around the world.

DR: What was your reaction to being selected to receive the Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award?

BG: It’s humbling because I can think of a lot of veteran fire officers who are qualified and deserving of the award.

DR: What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the fire service today and why?

BG: Conflagrations such as last year’s wildfires in California and fires in lightweight wood-frame apartment complexes nationwide.

DR: What is your “takeaway” from a week at FDIC International?

BG: It’s daunting; what you learn from a week of FDIC International opens your eyes to how much you don’t know and still have a lot to learn.

DR: Who are your FDIC International role models and why?

BG: There are too many to list, so instead of naming names and risking missing one of them, let me list the traits of my FDIC International role models: experience, humility, credibility, and they never forget where they came from. The FDIC International instructors I look up to set an example of all instructors by constantly updating their material and changing the focus of their classes. Although these instructors are highly experienced veteran fire officers, they are still students of the fire service and examine, if not embrace, new concepts and ideas such as lessons learned from recent research in their books, magazine articles, and classes at FDIC International.   

DR: What advice do you have for first-time attendees?

BG: Go ahead and enjoy the nightlife and brotherhood that is a huge part of the FDIC International experience but DO NOT let it interfere with getting up in the morning for Opening Ceremonies and morning classes. Also, if you come with others from your department, don’t all of you take the same classes. Take good notes and, at the end of the day, get together and exchange information.

Presentation of the Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award

Opening Ceremony Day 2

Thursday, April 11, 2019, 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.

Sagamore Ballroom 1-7, Indiana Convention Center

The Lifetime Achievement Award is named for Tom Brennan, who was the editor of Fire Engineering for eight years and a technical editor. Brennan had more than 35 years of fire service experience, including more than 20 years with the Fire Department of New York and five years as chief of the Waterbury (CT) Fire Department. He was co-editor of The Fire Chief’s Handbook, Fifth Edition (Fire Engineering Books, 1995) and the recipient of the 1998 Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award.

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