FDIC 2014 Interview: General Session Keynote Speaker George Healy

FDIC Conference Director Diane Rothschild recently spoke with Battalion Chief George Healy, Fire Department of New York, who will give his keynote on “Keeping Healthy Fire Department Traditions” at the FDIC 2014 General Session, about the whole FDIC “experience.”

DR: What does speaking at FDIC mean to you? What is its significance?

GH: There is great significance in the honor of being asked to be the keynote speaker at FDIC. This conference draws fire service leaders from around the world and, in my mind, is the gold standard in fire conferences. The depth of experience and knowledge that is found at FDIC is unparalleled. At what other conference can you guarantee yourself the opportunity to hear virtually every top instructor in our field speak? The best of the best have made and continue to make themselves available to the legions of students who make the pilgrimage every year to travel to Indianapolis in the spring. Another benefit of this conference is the relatively small footprint of the city’s center, which allows a student the chance to undoubtedly bump into an instructor and have a dialog that the student will carry with them throughout their career. I take great pride in the fact that the request to keynote came from FDIC Education Director Bobby Halton. I greatly admire his continuing passion and drive to ensure FDIC provides the best training it can to the global fire service community. With Bobby’s leadership, FDIC invigorates the attendees and sends them back to their respective departments energized and better educated. They are also better prepared to face any challenges in the field and to be the best firefighters they can be.

DR: How long have you been teaching the fire service? How did you get into instructing?

GH: As with many firefighters, I have spent my whole career learning and passing on the knowledge that I have gained. This principal was fostered in me when I first entered the fire department, but in 2006 I began formally teaching. After a wind-driven fire I commanded that same year, the FDNY partnered with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to investigate this fire occurrence so we could prevent significant injuries to our members. This opportunity to work with Dan Madrzykowski and Steve Kerber began a new chapter in my career where I became a student, building on my experience from the fireground and finding answers to questions I was not aware I even had. A veteran chief once told me, “Learn everything you can and teach everything you know.” So, with that advice, becoming an instructor was the logical progression for me.

DR: What do you look forward to at FDIC?

GH: I have been attending FDIC since 2008 and look forward to the conference each year. It lifts my spirits to be surrounded by motivated firefighters all focused on one common goal: to learn and improve their firefighting skills. There also is a very clear camaraderie that develops with members from departments all around the country. The spirit sensed at FDIC is palpable and infectious to all who have the opportunity to attend. It is quite evident many people go to great lengths and personal expense to partake in the greatness of this training opportunity. At FDIC, the training is the focus, and the conference is renowned for that.

DR: What message would you like to give to a first-time attendee or to someone who has never been to FDIC?

GH: My message to the first time attendee is: Take it all in! When you look at the schedule of classes and instructors, you will have some tough choices to make, so be present for as many as you can. Attend the Opening Ceremony, and get energized by Bobby Halton. Introduce yourself to the instructors and ask questions. The instructors all give their hearts and souls to this conference. They are incredibly passionate and knowledgeable. Make the most of your experience, and certainly don’t make it your last. The education you receive at FDIC will have a profound effect on your career, and the memories you make will last you a lifetime.

DR: What do you think is the most pressing issue in the fire service, why, and what can be done about it?

GH:  The most pressing issue in the fire service right now is the continually changing fire environment. Across the country members are being injured and killed when fire conditions rapidly deteriorate. The silver lining of this situation is we have recognized these emerging hazards. Great efforts are underway to investigate the changes and educate the fire service to better prepare them for the challenges that lie ahead.  The fireground is dynamic and forever changing. To safely perform our sworn duty, we must remain vigilant and informed. FDIC brings like-minded leaders and educators together in a forum that fosters open dialog and an exchange of information. Remain safe, and make the most of your FDIC experience.

General Session

Thursday, April 10, 2014

8:00 am-10:00 am

Sagamore Ballroom

Indiana Convention Center

George Healy is a battalion chief and a 22-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), assigned to Division 11 in Brooklyn. He was Operations Section chief for the Governor’s Island burn testing alternate strategies for combating wind-driven fires in 2008 and Operations Section chief for the Governor’s Island ventilation and suppression exercise in 2012. He is on the Technical Review Panel for Underwriters Laboratories on horizontal ventilation and vertical ventilation. He is a lecturer for the FDNY High Rise Symposium, the Chicago High Rise Symposium, the UK Fire College Symposium, and FDIC. He is an instructor for FDNY’s Battalion Chief Command Course, the Deputy Chief Development Course, and Chiefs Education Day.

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