Your FDIC International 2016 “Backstage Pass”

Last year, FDIC International 2015 drew 31,468 attendees-1,261 of them international, representing 55 countries; there were 830 exhibitors (55 international). Of those attending, 95 percent of them said they want to attend FDIC International 2016. Here’s why. Read on for your FDIC International 2016 exclusive “Backstage Pass,” a sneak peek at what’s new, what’s popular, and what’s not to be missed.


Nominations are now open! Do you know a firefighter or first responder who has made remarkable contributions to his local fire service such as superior or notable work in a specific role, distinguished leadership, devotion to the community, or outstanding implementation of initiatives and best practices or is an up-and-coming member? Explain why in a short video or a short essay, and your nominee could be awarded a full scholarship to attend FDIC International 2016!

Honeywell and DuPont™ Kevlar® have partnered to award 20 deserving firefighters and other first responders with a full-paid scholarship-including travel and accommodations-to attend the industry’s premier safety and training event. Winners will receive admission to FDIC International 2016, which includes classroom training, seminars, and exhibits. Nominations are being accepted until January 15, 2016, and must be approved by the chief of the applicable department.

New this year: The finalists will be chosen by YOU! Visit to nominate and to vote for your favorite nominee! Winners will be announced in February 2016.

Lifetime Achievement

Jerry Tracy is the recipient of the 2016 Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award and will be recognized on Thursday, April 21, during the General Session. He is a battalion commander (ret.) from the Fire Department of New York (FDNY).

“I would not be here today if it were not for Fire Engineering and the FDIC,” Tracy says. “It gave me the acquaintance to great minds and leaders in the fire service. The relationships I was fortunate to forge through the FDIC gave me the instruments of support to achieve surmountable success in the development to better understand fire behavior on the fireground. The research that I became involved with provided not only data but also live video that was the clincher to prove the business case I brought before the administration of the FDNY. Those results and video were the defining evidence in convincing the FDNY to review its policy and procedures in high-rise fire operations. The most profound consequence of this research was that it was conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in collaboration with Brooklyn Polytechnic University of New York University and the results of the study were made public to the world. The impact of the information caused a ripple effect throughout the fire service nationally and internationally to also review fire operations in high-rise structures. It also facilitated understanding and clarification of some of the most devastating events, including line-of-duty deaths (LODDs), experienced in past history. This award is not about me; it represents proof to all of us that if we continue on a path to develop our skills and knowledge in this profession, we can achieve greatness.”

What does a seasoned veteran of FDIC look forward to? “I look forward to meeting with firefighters with the same passion to learn from the best of the best, the creme de la creme of the fire service. The FDIC experience has broadened my knowledge and appreciation of the collective challenge in the fire service to evolve in excellence of duty and service. It excites my passion in this most rewarding profession. It provides clarity of purpose to us and the public we serve,” Tracy says. “You will be guaranteed a better understanding of what we do, how we do it, and why. You will acquire the tutoring to not only improve on your career skills and performance but to also prepare to become a mentor for other firefighters.

When asked about the most pressing issue in the fire service today, Tracy says: “A conundrum in the fire service today is how to integrate technology and science within respective departments. There are various impediments for implementation of the latest science and technology-most notably the pushback and interpretation of the written results and personal analysis by some of the most influential individuals in the fire service. They acknowledge the science of late on fire behavior and methods of extinguishment but in some respects discount its relevance on the fireground. I find that astounding! What I perceive is they believe some of the findings are in conflict with their perspective and position that profess aggressive interior attack no matter what fire circumstances we are confronted with on arrival. These individuals should participate in the science rather than interpret the data to their own experiences. I personally believe I could not live long enough on this earth to make every mistake imaginable. In other words, if I cannot learn from others, I cannot learn enough.”

Keynoters: Voices of the Fire Service

There are 30,000-plus people who travel to FDIC each year; only two get to keynote, which makes it an exclusive group among fire service professionals.

“I have sat in the main hall watching the Opening Ceremony and keynotes for the past 20 years, wondering what I would say if I ever got the opportunity to stand on the ‘Big Stage,’ ” says Steve Pegram, chief of the Goshen Twp. (OH) Fire Department and president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI), who is keynoting Wednesday, April 20, during the Opening Ceremony. “Ironically, my message at FDIC 2016 is different from what I ever thought I would be talking about, but life experiences have a way of changing our outlook on life and our priorities, and I think I have something important and special to share.

“I began teaching informally on drill nights in my volunteer fire company. At that time, we drilled two to three nights a month, and planning training generally fell on the youngest officer who had the most free time: me. As time progressed, I got certified as an instructor and worked as a part-time adjunct instructor for the Mercer County Fire Academy in New Jersey. I spent a lot of time lying on the floor of a concrete burn building loading and reloading pallets for live fire evolutions. My gear looked ‘salty,’ and I was having a lot of reckless fun. It was later in my career that I realized how ineffective a lot of that training was in really teaching the students anything. When I moved to Ohio and the paid side of the fire service, I was always either assigned directly to the training division or supervised training as a chief officer. Early on, some great company officers taught me, and I have always thought it was part of my responsibility to pay it forward and teach those around me, especially the newer people. That’s part of the reason I joined ISFSI and ran for the Board of Directors: to give back on a larger scale to a fire service that has done so many wonderful things for me personally and professionally.

“FDIC is my favorite time of the year. If you have never been, GO! It is worth your time and money. The first couple of years I attended FDIC, I did so out of my own pocket, and it was well worth the financial investment. Many of the people whose classes I took as a firefighter are now my peers on the Board of the ISFSI or in the instructor cadre at FDIC. FDIC is all about learning and networking. Never be afraid to walk up and ask questions; there is no other event during the year where just about every fire service instructor, author, or celebrity is on site at the same time. Reach out to those people whose articles you have read or someone whose class you took. The instructors want to meet and hear from you just as much as you want to meet and talk to them. Don’t waste time during the week doing things you can do at home. Instead, attend every Opening Ceremony, General Session, classroom session, and then wrap up the week on the exhibit floor. You only have to attend FDIC once to be hooked for life, and you will find you make friendships that last a lifetime. I sure have.”

When asked about the most pressing issue in the fire service, Pegram says, “Normally I would say staffing; I think sufficient staffing on fire and EMS units has been and continues to be a huge issue for the fire service. But, more than ever, I think it’s health and wellness and the issue of firefighters who are and are not ‘fit for duty.’ A lot of effort has been made to reduce line-of-duty injuries and deaths, and a lot of focus has been on making apparatus, equipment, gear, and scenes safer, but I think we still are falling very short of the real issue: our own personal health and wellness. So many firefighters join the service when they are young and in tip-top shape; many get an entry-level physical to ensure they are fit for duty when they join; but for most people and organizations, the commitment and investment in being fit for duty stop there.

“If we are serious about reducing LODDs in this country, we need to address the fit-for-duty issue. Everyone could be a little healthier, including me! Locally in our department, we have implemented annual physicals and daily physical fitness training. Some firefighters are all in, some do the bare minimum to meet the requirements, and others avoid it like the plague. As a fire chief, I think it is my responsibility to invest at least as much money into the health and wellness of my employees as I do on bandages and other supplies. As firefighters, we need to look in the mirror and ask, ‘Can we do our job? If I go down on an emergency today, will they be able to rescue me? If my partner goes down, will I be able to rescue him or her?’ It’s unfair to you and your crew to show up to the fire station unfit. The harsh reality is, many of us are out of shape and are not doing anything about it. Until we fix that problem, the LODDs will remain the same,” Pegram concludes.

Assistant Chief Derek Alkonis from the L.A. County (CA) Fire Department will keynote during the General Session on Thursday, April 21. “I’m honored to be selected and to have the opportunity to speak to firefighters who are motivated to learn and improve their knowledge, skills, and abilities,” Alkonis says. “Firefighters attend FDIC looking to learn. The keynote sets the tone for the learning. My message needs to inspire and motivate firefighters to discover information at the conference that will make them more effective and safe firefighters.

“I like the whole FDIC experience: The presentations, the hands-on training, the vendors, and the networking with firefighters from all over the world makes for a perfect learning environment,” Alkonis continues. What message would he like to give to a first-time attendee or to someone who has never been to FDIC? “Seize opportunities for learning. Align yourself with individuals who are positive and who are problem solvers. Find teachers who speak truth, and listen carefully to what they say, and even take notes so you can remember their words and you can apply their message when you get home.”

What does Alkonis think is the most pressing issue in the fire service? “Accountability is the first word that comes to mind; however, there are other words like training and competency that come to mind as well. Accountability is first because fire departments (this includes management and all the policies, procedures, and bureaucracies that make up the department) need to recognize they may be accountable for poor or unsafe performance. They need to find where they must make changes to avoid accidents and improve efficiencies and effectiveness in saving lives, property, and the environment. But it’s not only the fire department that is held accountable for firefighter performance. Each one of us firefighters also must be held accountable for our learning and our performance. As a fire service, we need to make our performance expectations clear and provide learning opportunities for personnel to achieve them, and if we can’t meet the realistic and valid expectations, we need to be held accountable so we will change our behaviors for the better,” Alkonis concludes.

There Is No Such Thing as Extreme Fire Behavior

Dr. Stefan Svensson, Ph.D., associate professor at Lund University in Sweden, explains the focus of his classroom session, brought back by popular demand: “Understanding fire is the key to success at any fire scene. If we can predict how the fire will develop and its impact on people, property, and the environment, we may also be able to deploy the right resources at the right time and in the right place. But, to be able to do so, we must have knowledge on a few key concepts about fire, the main factors to why and how it develops, and be able to identify such concepts and factors on the fireground.

“Fire is a fascinating phenomenon that has attracted people for millennia. It catches the eye, and many times the fire is described as a living thing, an unpredictable force of nature, or even magic. The effects of fire and the consequences of its force are often described with superlatives. It happens that we express the fire as ‘extreme.’ But, our way of describing fire is based on what we see, feel, or perceive. However, if we consider it from another perspective, from a ‘fire point of view,’ it’s no longer alive or unpredictable, magical, or extreme. It may very well be hard to predict how fire will develop or the consequences of fire. The consequences might be horrifying and way beyond any imagination. But this still doesn’t make the fire extreme in any way-not if we look at it as a physical phenomenon.

“The fire simply follows the conditions given, whether we know them or not. The fire requires certain conditions, and it is controlled and influenced by some basic natural laws and conditions. That we do not always understand these fundamental laws and how they affect the behavior of a fire does not make the fire extreme in any way: It reacts and develops as it is supposed to, given the circumstances.

“This class is on fire behavior. Starting with a very simple fire from a gaseous fuel and ending with a room fire with a very complex composition of the fuel, it will describe the most important factors that control fire. This knowledge is crucial in our understanding of how a fire develops and how we can deal with it on the fireground. However, even if our knowledge regarding the properties of fire or the effects of our tactics is good, it is not always possible to predetermine or assess the development of fires. We cannot always explain or understand why something happened. The fire is still behaving as expected from a physical-chemical perspective. There is no such thing as extreme fire behavior.”

Saving Those Who Save Others

Jeff Dill, founder of the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance (FBHA), will present the workshop “Saving Those Who Save Others.”

“This is an in-depth look at firefighter suicide prevention/awareness. The FBHA is the only known organization in the United States that tracks and validates these tragic events. Discussion will evolve around communications, signs/symptoms specific to fire/EMS, developing a behavioral health program, and retirement issues,” he explains. “This is a difficult but necessary subject. I believe everyone who is concerned about the behavioral health of their employees should attend this session. We are seeing more members dealing with personal issues who need help than we are seeing structure fires. Developing a behavioral health program is imperative in today’s world of firefighting. Attendees will walk away inspired to develop behavioral health programs or to enhance ones already in existence.”

Hand-to-Hand Combat: Auto Extrication Hand Tools Only

According to Lead Instructor Jeff Pugh, a lieutenant from Central Pierce (WA) Fire & Rescue, this new Hands-on Training (H.O.T.) evolution “focuses on the basic hand tools that departments have used for years, such as reciprocating saws, air chisels, chains, and prying tools. Firefighters will learn or be reintroduced to extrication maneuvers using these basic tools.” He and his training instructors from PXT have instructed thousands of firefighters in extrication all over North America and in parts of Mexico, El Salvador, and Chile.

Extrication station rotations focus on stabilizing the vehicle in its physical orientation, providing new and modified old extrication techniques for gaining access to patients. The emphasis is on making every movement, cut, and relief count in the “Art of Making Space” quickly and efficiently. The systematic approach focuses primarily on using hand tools-mechanical, electric, or pneumatic-to illustrate the following objectives: seat displacement/removal, door displacement/removal, maxi doors or side blow-out B-post displacement/removal, dash displacement, push/lift roll steering column displacement, pull third door conversions hood, trunk access and removal, and lock mechanism bypass through floorboard access.

“Hand tools are and always will be a large part of the extrication discipline. The opportunity to share this knowledge with firefighters (our peers) at FDIC 2016 is an incredible opportunity that is both humbling and exciting for our team. This course, as all of our courses, was designed by firefighters for firefighters. The fact that we were chosen to teach a H.O.T. class at FDIC out of the 900 or so entries is exciting to say the least,” Pugh adds.

Leadership Panel on Firefighter Addiction, Mental Health, and Recovery

The mental health and well-being of the men and women in the fire service are the focus of this forum. With growing awareness and discussion on topics such as suicide, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse, fire service personnel are looking for venues that provide information and direction on such topics. The experienced professionals on this panel have presented on these topics across the United States. They will share some of their experiences and field critical questions surrounding these issues.

Daniel DeGryse, director of the Rosecrance Florian Program and panel moderator, says: “We have learned that the toll taken on firefighters from what they experience through the traumas they are exposed to in their career may lead to depression, PTSD, anxiety, and substance abuse, among other conditions. Unfortunately, this is not a new issue in the fire service. It is, however, a topic now gaining in recognition and attention and one that needs to be openly discussed. I am sure you have attended presentations covering mental health and substance abuse issues in the fire service. I am also sure you, like me, find there is little time after a presentation to interact with the presenter to delve more into the topic or ask a personal question. Well, here is your opportunity! Here is your chance to speak with not one but a panel of five leaders in the area of behavioral health within the fire service-leaders who have actual life, personal, and professional experience in the topic of what they discuss nationally.

“Come be a part of an open discussion with leaders who address behavioral health and its applications to the fire service. Our approach in the fire service has to shift from a reactive to a proactive one regarding the significant but often overlooked impact our daily work experiences have on our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Our panel has many years of combined first-hand experiences and education to share with attendees. Anyone who has ever had an issue that was very personal knows the power of having a conversation with someone who has been there,” DeGryse concludes.

Panel members include Chief Patrick Kenny, Western Springs (IL) Fire Department; Captain/Chaplain Jeremy Hurd, Palm Beach County (FL) Fire Department; Firefighter (Ret.) John Walters, Fire Department of New York; Captain (Ret.) Jeff Dill, Palatine (IL) Rural Fire Protection District; and Firefighter (Ret.) Dr. Beth Murphy, Bellevue (WA) Fire Department.

Taught in Spanish

Pedro Cáceres, a captain in the Wayne Township (IN) Fire Department and instructor of “Common Principles of Firefighting” (taught in Spanish), says: “One of the greatest benefits of a true international conference such as FDIC is the opportunity to share knowledge and expertise with so many firefighters from all over the United States and so many other countries around the world. We can all learn so much from the different perspectives that this international audience brings. It is this exchange of information that is so valuable to all who attend, regardless of their role. Firefighting often differs from one department to another, from one region of the country to another, and definitely from one country to another. At the same time, several principles are constant for all good-quality firefighting regardless of the location. Physical fitness, training, teamwork, command presence, and situational awareness are all factors that can improve the fire service regardless of its location. This class uses these common factors to share and explore ways in which the international fire service can be improved and delivered in a safe and efficient manner.”

Caceres continues: “The fire does not care where you are or what language you speak. Many of the risks are the same. For instance, the additional weight of the protective fire gear, the heat stress created by the gear, the physical requirements of the tasks, the environment in which we work, and the work schedule all have a great impact on firefighters. The fire will treat those trying to extinguish it the same. Regardless of the type of incident, firefighters answer the call every day without hesitation in every corner of the world. Many of the hazards are the same. Structure collapses, getting lost, getting disoriented, losing water, getting trapped, and falling ill from the stress can also be found at many incidents regardless of the location and type of fire. Despite the fact that the fires we fight can vary in so many ways, many of the hazards remain similar and, therefore, a methodical approach and use of known successful strategies can lead to safer, more productive firefighting.”

He concludes, “This class will be taught in Spanish, and I seek to learn as much as I seek to teach. FDIC International 2016 offers a unique setting for the exchange of ideas and implementation of this concept.”

José Troncoso is teaching “Rapid Intervention and Air Management” (in Spanish): “Over the years, a lot of courses have been developed for firefighters. As we all know, most changes occur as a result of a tragedy. At a fire scene, these two topics are among the most important for the suvivability of firefighters. They were both developed to avoid firefighter injuries and deaths. The focus is to have a rapid intervention team (RIT) and to understand why it is needed and its function. Additional discussion is on the equipment needed for RIT, running Command with a RIT, and how you should use your RIT.

“During my 16 years teaching firefighting courses in Mexico and Central and South America, I’ve taught these courses many times. I’ve also had the opportunity to observe these classes given by others. I’ve observed that in Latin America, most firefighters have RIT confused with firefighter rescue. It’s important to know different techniques to extricate a firefighter from a building, but that isn’t the only thing RIT is about. I have asked firefighters leaving RIT courses there to explain what RIT is. Almost always they talk about the different methods to carry a fallen firefighter by themselves or with a partner. This is only one component of what RIT is. RIT is also about establishing a group dedicated to firefighter rescue and how to manage RIT during an emergency. In this course, we cover all of the different elements to know to manage a RIT,” Troncoso adds.

“The other theme is air management. We will cover the requirements for air management in the United States, obstacles we had implementing it here, how to implement air management standards, and how to practice them. Tragically, in most incidents that have resulted in a firefighter death, the firefighter either suffocated in his mask or removed it and died from the toxic gases or heated air and smoke. We’ve seen that, historically, firefighters were accustomed to working until they exhausted their air and only then would they exit. The problem with that mindset is that fires and other emergencies are dynamic environments and they can change in an instant. If any change or complication arises when a firefighter is exiting without air, he no longer has time to figure out a solution. This course is about how to manage your air and avoid the situations where you could be left without air.”

For the past 16 years, Troncoso has been the director of the international firefighting training program “Portland Bombero Association-Bomberos Latinos,” which translates and teaches firefighters throughout Latin America. “The courses aren’t only translated into Spanish but also have been adapted to the reality of Latin America, factoring in that construction, resources, and water supply are different than they are here in the States,” Troncoso explains. Bomberos Latinos has had 44 international training missions and four international disaster responses.

Regarding his class “Heart Heroes: Successful Cardiovascular Program for Volunteer Firefighters,” Santiago (Chile) Fire Department Assistant Chief Ivo Zuvic García says, “Statistics don’t lie. In Chile, as well as in the Unites States, we’ve been part of the trend where better technically prepared firefighters left behind the days when fire suppression was the main reason for the premature death of our firefighters. More stress in every minute of your life, less time to develop a sport, eating unhealthier food, higher physical demands to put out a fire, and being sedentary make heart-related conditions the number one cause of premature death in the fire service.”

He will share some characteristics that make the Santiago Fire Department a unique entity, responding to more than 5,000 emergencies a year with a base of more than 2,000 volunteers. You will learn the basics for starting your department’s cardiovascular program-including setting up a successful prevention campaign to reduce the cardiovascular risks, getting everybody involved in the task, and ensuring the leadership is fully committed.

In his class “High-Rise Fires: Essentials for Volunteer Fire Departments,” Firefighter Sergio Selman, Cuerpo de Bomberos de Santiago, Chile, will discuss how the challenges have grown exponentially for volunteer fire departments during the past decade and why high-rise building fires aren’t making the job easier. “Cities developing at an extremely high speed, lack of enforcement on the passive fire protection measures, and differences compared with ‘regular fires’ have enlarged the complexity of handling this type of fire.

“We don’t want to teach a step-by-step methodology with thousands of case studies to memorize but to generate the ability in our firefighters to think strategically about each possible future assignment. They have to learn to think not only about what to do but also what the consequences will be and how to anticipate any sort of problem, because the only certainty is that your next call will not even be similar to the previous one.”

Honor Guard Competition

Captain Glen Busch, Division 20 Honor Guard: “The fire service honor guard is required to work under conditions that are both physically and emotionally demanding. They get only one chance to provide a fitting and honorable tribute to a fallen brother or sister who has given the ultimate sacrifice in service to their community. These duties are much different from those that any of us signed up for when we raised our hand, but beneath it all is a sacred dedication to the service and traditions that bind us together.”

He continues, “Not all of the functions that are performed by the honor guard are related to funerals, but even the more celebratory ceremonies require hours of preparation and precise attention to detail. Teams must develop the ability to coordinate movements and provide a uniform and calming presence while always mindful of our history, traditions, ceremony, etiquette, and protocols. Each year at FDIC, these skills are placed on display as honor guard teams from across the country put their pride and reputation on the line in the National Fire Department Honor Guard Competition.

“The competition atmosphere is one of the most effective ways to raise the level of professionalism among those who compete, placing them truly in a league of their own. Teams are evaluated based on their skill and proficiency at executing several key honor guard functions such as color guard and flag posting, casket carry, changing of the guard, and folding of the casket flag,” Busch adds.

Do you think you have what it takes to put your skills up against some of the best teams in the country? This competition has been designed so that teams of any size or experience can expect to perform well given enough time, preparation, and dedication of its members to training while still ensuring the course remains challenging to the most experienced teams. New teams are always welcome, and the more experienced teams and competition mentors can assist with questions and suggestions.

Honor your skills, come out to display them, network, and learn from other teams in an environment that displays the brotherhood we strive to honor. “Whether you are part of a team who wishes to join the elite across the country or you just respect the willingness of these folks to honorably stand in reverence, be sure and make time to stop by the 500 Ballroom on Friday, April 22,” Busch says.

The competition runs most of the morning and concludes with the Awards Ceremony at 4 p.m. As in previous years, competing teams are given the opportunity to volunteer to carry the Colors at various events during FDIC throughout the week, and each competing member is given a complimentary two-day exhibitor’s pass.

To register your team or for more information, contact Glen Busch at (630) 290-8155 or

New Three-Day H.O.T. Evolution

“Preparing for the Acquired Structure Burn-Completing the Task List” is a new three-day evolution that provides a venue for training officers and live burn instructors to document the majority of the components in the Task Books for Live Fire Training Instructor-Acquired Structure and Instructor In Charge. Administrative requirements of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1403 will be reviewed and verified for the location. Students will prepare the property for the FDIC H.O.T. evolution “NFPA 1403-Compliant Live Burn Training in Acquired Structures.” All end-of-drill administrative documentation will also be addressed. Development of a site plan will include vehicle staging, water supply location, shelter, emergency medical services, exposure protection, rehabilitation, traffic control, and verifying utility removal as a few of the task book items the student will fulfill. Inspection of the site then allows the student to recognize issues to be addressed and plan the necessary logistics to render the structure safe for live fire training.

FDIC staff will have a cache of tools and materials to facilitate the building preparation. Exterior ventilation openings, surrounding grounds, prop construction, and repairs will be made. Interior inspection and subsequent debris removal, wall-floor-ceiling alteration, and hazard recognition and removal will be accomplished and the structural “footprint” for each floor will be developed to aid in the pre-entry briefing for each evolution.

Once the site and floor plans are documented, the students will be assigned rooms within the structure to develop objectives for a live fire training evolution. Maintaining the proper instructor-student ratio, each writer will take the role of Instructor in Charge for an evolution during one of the Monday or Tuesday H.O.T. Live Burn evolutions. The other students involved in the special three-day evolution will fill in officer roles.

Fulfilling the requirements of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors Live Fire Training Program for Fixed Facilities and its Acquired Structure online program is recommended and encouraged. To be considered, students must provide documentation of similar live fire training credentials from their authority having jurisdiction.

Lead instructor Captain (Ret.) Gregory A. Fisher, Champaign (IL) Fire Department, says, “Conducting live fire training in acquired structures while maintaining compliance with NFPA 1403 can be a daunting task and difficult to accomplish. Through the skills, knowledge, and resources presented in this class, you will be prepared to meet the responsibilities of the Live Fire Training Instructor and Instructor-in-Charge to safely conduct the drills in a realistic and relevant manner.”

Compartment Fire Training Workshops

Benjamin Walker, United Kingdom Fire & Rescue Services: “Like each of you, I shed a tear and sigh every time I read about a line-of-duty death and each time I ask myself, What could I personally have done to stop this? Well, this is my manifesto, my mission, my answer, and this is what we’re doing at FDIC: reevaluating our outlook, tactics, and training globally to reduce LODDs.

“I view the fire service like a shamrock: on the left petal, tradition; on the right, science and innovation. We are duty-bound to merge both-honor the past by learning from mistakes and sacrifice; embrace the science and use it for our benefit and bring them together in the direction of the third petal-“forward”-with progression reflected in a safer, more effective approach to firefighting.”

In “Driving the Change,” Ph.D. Research Student (Group Commander Ret.) Bill Gough, Coventry University, UK, discusses responses to LODDs in the UK from his personal experience as investigating officer. He tracks the process from event to alterations in national guidelines/tactics moving toward interior compartment firefighting on the basis of scientific research, creation of compliance frameworks nationally, and implementation at both the departmental and company operations level.

In “Dynamic Decision Making and Reading the Fire,” Station Officer Shan Raffel, Queensland Fire and Emergency Service, evaluates “reading fire” as part of the size-up, tactical selection, appraisal, and methodology while prioritizing the primary objective of putting the fire out. Safe, effective operations, based on science linked to UL/NIST findings, executed with discipline and commitment, are analyzed in depth.

In “Implementing Compartment Fire Training Programs in Your Department,” Walker covers effective training in this approach to compartment firefighting. He leads students through a fully interactive “ops refresher” theory session, as used with the London Fire Brigade; discusses striking the balance between science and practition/recognition to achieve the outcomes for your department; and covers coaching vs. instruction alongside the challenges for instructors in implementing a new approach.

Walker concludes, “We welcome you to attend all three of these workshops for the widest perspective of why, where, how, and when we can move forward together, blend our approaches, and reduce LODDs permanently.”

Firefighter Throwdown

Since day one, the Firefighter Throwdown has promoted firefighter fitness, health, and nutrition as it relates to safety, job performance, and quality of life. This mission continues, and over the past few years a true community of firefighter athletes, fans, sponsors, and followers has evolved. And according to John Carpenter, founder/manager of Firefighter Throwdown, this only promises to continue increasing in years to come.

“FDIC, because of its focus on education, sheer size, and major impact on the industry, is the perfect stage for the Firefighter Throwdown. We plan to entertain the FDIC audience and raise awareness of our mission both at the show and on a public Webcast,” Carpenter says.

The explosive growth of functional fitness in the ranks of firefighters across the country and abroad has fueled the popularity of the Throwdown. “FDIC has always been at the forefront of spotting industry trends, so we were thrilled to combine forces to present a new and exciting functional fitness competition to a critical mass of fire industry professionals in Indy in 2016,” Carpenter continues. “What spectators will see in a functional fitness competition are movements that mimic those a firefighter would use on a daily basis when responding to a fire. These are useful exercises that not only keep firefighters in shape but also prep them for the grueling demands they face on the job. This competition is not for the weak and the shy and, for that matter, neither is the profession of firefighting, where peak performance is key to success and safety.”

Firefighter athletes come from all over the United States and Canada to compete. “We’ve even had inquiries from New Zealand, the Middle East, and Sweden, so hopefully these athletes will be joining us as well at FDIC,” Carpenter says. “Every firehouse with an athlete in the Throwdown becomes a cheering center for the event, and we have consistently brought the Throwdown to the viewing audience via a Webcast.”

The competitive atmosphere of the Throwdown also matches the culture of firefighters. The athletes are performing as individuals, but they also support and even help out their fellow athletes during the competition. “Even if athletes are lagging, they are cheered on to push harder vs. being ridiculed. The Throwdown brings out the best in people while still being fiercely competitive,” Carpenter explains.

“The subject of LODDs and the fact that 50 percent are from heart attacks from overexertion is a hot topic in the fire industry now. By FDIC staging the Firefighter Throwdown, the athletes have a chance to prove by example how this problem can have a viable solution. And, the solution doesn’t mean every firefighter has to be an elite functional fitness competitor. With the Firefighter Throwdown at FDIC, if the athletes proving by example can motivate just one fellow firefighter to forgo the chicken wing and soft drink and opt to walk around the block, then our mission is accomplished. This is a fast-action, intense, and highly competitive event perfectly suited for those seeking entertainment, motivation, and inspiration,” Carpenter concludes.

NFA Alumni

“The National Fire Academy Alumni Association (NFAAA) was founded by the proposition of Fire Engineering, which fundamentally assisted us in establishing and creating the Association. Our objective is to provide this resource to the National Fire Academy (NFA) students for free. The Alumni Association helps the more than 32,000 alumni around the world stay connected to each other and to the NFA. We look to you for your support through alumni leadership and through Web site suggestions and volunteering content contributions,” explains Ron Kanterman, administrator, NFAAA. There is an annual meeting of the Association each year at FDIC; all alumni are invited and encouraged to attend.

“One of the attributes of an NFA education is the way we connect theory to hands-on practice as it relates to our careers in the fire and emergency services. Providing support is one of the best ways you can translate your appreciation for your education into meaningful, hands-on work. Thousands of alumni put their talents and expertise to good use each year in support of the training and education they receive at the NFA. On a local level, they provide career guidance for other students/firefighters, serve on boards and committees, help with student recruitment, and devote their time in many other ways that are both personally satisfying and essential to the health and welfare of the fire service,” Kanterman continues.

“Our members consist of all ranks-firefighter to chief, men, women, all races, creeds, and religions. We encourage you to join our cause. If you attend the NFA on campus or take a class online, you are eligible for free membership,” he concludes.

Fire Training Directors

Eriks Gabliks, president, North American Fire Training Directors Association (NAFTD): “The NAFTD is pleased to be involved in one of the largest fire-rescue conferences in the world, FDIC International. Our members provide training to more than one million career and volunteer fire-rescue personnel on an annual basis across the United States and Canada, and a week in Indianapolis in April at FDIC is always on our calendars. We have enjoyed a great partnership with FDIC for decades, and our members offer a number of sessions during the conference on the latest training techniques.

“Equally important, state and provincial fire training directors send their instructors to FDIC to learn new techniques, network with other instructors, and see the latest apparatus and equipment being manufactured for the fire service. Everything you will see and hear at FDIC has an impact on training. Classes offered at FDIC range from technical rescue, live-fire training safety considerations, all the way to how we train our new generation of firefighters using a blended online hands-on learning approach. FDIC is an experience you will never forget; once you have attended, you will know why this has to become an annual event for thousands of firefighters, fire instructors, and chief officers,” Gabliks concludes.


The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) is a proud participant at FDIC. Attend two extraordinary and popular events that get bigger and better every year!

Stop, Drop, Rock ‘n’ Roll: For 14 years, this has been THE place to be for a night of great music, food, and fun, especially at the live auction when talented auctioneers encourage competitive bidding, which can get fierce! You can bid on a wide variety of items that will appeal to just about everyone. Top items from previous years included a full set of TecGen® PPE, a Cairns® Invader 664 Composite Fire Helmet, a Seek™ Thermal Imaging Camera, a Coach™ Handbag and Double-Zip Wristlet, and a Swarovski Crystal Bangle Bracelet.

Stop, Drop, Rock ‘n’ Roll has played an important part in honoring America’s fallen firefighters at FDIC. It’s a chance for firefighters to give back to the fire service and have fun at the same time. Through a small donation at the door, you help the NFFF honor and support the families of firefighters who have died in the line of duty. If you would like to provide an auction item for Stop, Drop, Rock ‘n’ Roll, contact Cathy Hedrick at

FDIC 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb: Show others that you will never forget the 343 members of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) who bravely gave their lives on September 11, 2001. Be part of the 5th Annual FDIC 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb at Lucas Oil Stadium.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the NFFF was there to provide support and comfort to families and members of the FDNY. Since then, the NFFF has continued to work with the FDNY Counseling Services Unit to ensure that all survivors receive the assistance they need through a variety of programs, including peer counseling.

Fire service members and their families from across the United States are invited. Participants will climb the stadium stairs three times for a total of 110 stories, representing the number of floors in the Twin Towers. The fee is $35, and everyone will receive a T-shirt and photo ID of one of the fallen heroes of September 11. The first 343 registrants will also receive an exclusive numbered Challenge Coin. The proceeds will benefit the FDNY Counseling Unit and the programs provided by the NFFF to support the families of fallen firefighters.

For more information about the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, visit“>www.

Real-World, Street-Smart Extrication

Scenario: Engine 21 is on scene of a two-vehicle motor vehicle crash with heavy damage and complete road blockage. Shortly after the initial arrival report, Command confirms multiple critically trapped patients. With urgency, Command asks for your unit’s ETA.

This radio transmission happens millions of times across the country. Now ask yourself, is your crew ready for what awaits?

Isaac Frazier, special operations lieutenant, St. Johns County (FL) Fire Rescue, says, “It is no secret that FDIC is the Super Bowl of fire service instruction. Having the opportunity to share my passion at a venue with more than 900 submitted classes is an incredible feeling. However, the opportunity to teach isn’t the only benefit of attending the conference. The hands-on training, workshops, lectures, show floor, friendships, brotherhood bash, and stair climb barely scratch the surface. If you are looking to ignite your fire service passion, this is the place.”

He is the lead instructor for the hands-on training evolution “Real World, Street-Smart Extrication,” which will provide a realistic “street” approach to training that’s been forged on the nation’s deadliest roadways. “The most important aspects of extrication are commonly overlooked. Many departments get fixated on the advanced/low-frequency extrications while the extrication skills that are most commonly used are misunderstood. This program hits many important and high-probability scenarios-side-resting vehicles, side outs, various alternative dash displacements, steering wheel de-ringing, guardrail entrapments, tips, and more. When we understand the whys of each method, we can understand the hows when Plan A doesn’t work,” Frazier says.

“It has taken thousands of training/teaching hours, combined with many years of street experience on Florida’s Interstate 95, to get the program where it is today. With this training, we won’t show techniques that we haven’t personally applied on real calls. Realistic problem solving is more than picking a tactic; it is breaking out of tunnel vision and being aware of the entire scenario. You must see more than just methods; you must see and process the scene, the entrapment level, and the patient’s condition. Are there opportunities in the plan that will provide quick extrication and save lives? ‘Real World, Street Smart Extrication’ will not just make you a better operator. It will help you understand many important aspects of extrication applicable in the real-world setting,” Frazier adds.

Working in the Fire Flow Path

FDIC International proves once again it’s the top fire conference in the country. This year’s FDIC will see a new H.O.T. evolution that will help meet the mission of the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute (UL-FSRI) by bringing the research to the streets.

Lead instructor Sean Gray: “Over the past 10 years, UL-FSRI has worked hard to provide the fire service with research-based data and tactical recommendations. However, there are some departments that have struggled to apply the data and research to their tactics.” The instructor cadre, comprised of UL-FSRI advisory board members, members of the Los Angeles County (CA) Fire Department, and members of the Cobb County (GA) Fire Department, will discuss recent research and data in detail, and students will learn how to apply the research to their tactics to achieve a safer, smarter, and more efficient fireground. This class will bridge the gap between the research and the fireground to reinforce research-based tactics such as fire attack, door control, and size-up considerations of fire behavior. Experienced live fire behavior instructors will demonstrate rollover, flow path, and the effects of ventilation.

The Fire Attack station will focus on interior attack with an emphasis on door control, hoseline management, and hose stream placement and exterior attack with a focus on stream placement and coordination. The Search station will focus on controlling the flow path with door control, search techniques, room orientation, and an oriented thermal imaging camera search. The Fire Behavior station will cover fire attack, door control, and fire behavior. A small-scale four-compartment fire behavior box will be used as a visual demonstration along with charts and diagrams of flow path and extinguishment research results.

5K Fun Run

Sue Shepherd, Indianapolis Fire Department, is the coordinator/co-creator of the Ninth Annual FDIC Courage and Valor 5K Fun Run: “The time is quickly approaching for one of the big events of FDIC-the Courage and Valor 5K! For those of you who are repeat participants, THANK YOU! We look forward to seeing you on Thursday, April 21, for another wonderful evening on the downtown canal! For those of you who are curious about ‘dipping your toes in the water’ (okay, you shouldn’t really end up in the canal!), this is your year to join us!

“The 5K supports the Fire Engineering Courage and Valor Foundation, and everyone is welcome! Forget about feeling pressured to get in shape just to participate. The whole idea of participating is to bring firefighters, police officers, EMS personnel, and civilians together at a beautiful location on a spectacular evening to walk, run, or to do some variation that resembles one of those activities-all to support an incredibly special foundation that awards an extraordinarily courageous firefighter each year.”

The Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award, established to honor a firefighter whose actions deserve national recognition, honors Deputy Chief Ray Downey of the Fire Department of New York, who lost his life on September 11, 2001. He was chief of rescue operations and a 39-year veteran of the department. At the time of his death, he was the most highly decorated member of FDNY. The award is presented annually at the FDIC Opening Ceremony; it is considered the most prestigious award in the American fire service. The award consists of a Courage and Valor medal and a $35,000 cash prize. The Courage and Valor Selection Committee is comprised of members of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation; the National Fire Academy Alumni Association; Ray Downey’s two sons, FDNY Battalion Chief Joe Downey and FDNY Battalion Chief Chuck Downey; and representatives of Fire Engineering.

“Register for an event that celebrates an amazing foundation, honors the profession of firefighting, recognizes an extraordinary firefighter, and brings lots of incredible people together for a great cause.”

Principles of Modern Fire Attack

Leigh Hubbard, executive director, International Society of Fire Service Instructors: “The International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) is the voice of the fire instructor community representing the most engaged and passionate instructors from around the globe. Whether you’re a veteran instructor teaching on the national circuit or recently found yourself teaching at the firehouse kitchen table, the ISFSI offers you the opportunity to network and obtain valuable resources to ensure your professional success. The ISFSI is the fastest growing organization representing the fire service instructors. Our launch of the “Principles of Modern Fire Attack” curriculum has engaged thinking fire instructors all around the globe.”

Through October 2015, the ISFSI has successfully taught more than 5,000 students in an eight-hour Assistance to Firefighter Grant-funded program and another 1,500 instructors in the train-the-trainer. It has credentialed 708 live fire fixed facility instructors around North America since 2011. In 2016, the ISFSI will launch the Live Fire Acquired Structure Credential as well as the Training Officer Credential and Accredited Fire Academy.

“We continue to build healthy relationships with like-minded organizations that are passionate about supporting today’s fire instructors. ISFSI members benefit from educational opportunities and professional development specific to an instructor’s needs. In addition, the ISFSI provides an endless array of instructor resources in the form of tangible tools to help you in your current position. However, the most rewarding benefits are the networking, mentoring, and leadership opportunities provided to ISFSI members. The full instructor experience can be found by attending one of the many ISFSI events during FDIC. Members can take advantage of the 7th Annual Membership Social on Tuesday, April 19, at Mo’s on East Maryland Street, and the ISFSI Annual Membership Meeting and lunch on Friday, April 22. If you aren’t already a member, you can join at either event or online at,” Hubbard adds.

Eagle Scouts in the Fire Service

According to Joseph M. Kruzan Jr., Eagle Scout Class of 1975 and chief of the Schererville (IN) Fire Department, “The National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) has established a new affinity group for professional and volunteer firefighters. It is estimated that close to 10 percent of all firefighters are Eagle Scouts. The NESA Firefighters Affinity Group is working to encourage young boys in scouting to become Eagle Scouts and to encourage Eagle Scout firefighters to support scouting by giving back to their community by getting involved. The similarities between Scouting and the fire service are numerous. They both encourage rank advancement. The both involve particular skill sets, and they both involve a uniform.”

At FDIC 2015, nearly 70 Eagle Scout firefighters gathered to discuss how they can get involved, and plans are underway for another gathering in 2016.

FAMA Showcase

FDIC International and FAMA will present “The 3rd Dimension of Your Emergency Scene” FDIC International/FAMA Showcase on Thursday, April 21, at 10:30 a.m. The Showcase will feature a special presentation on unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) in the fire service. These “eyes in the sky” bring a new visual perspective and added advantages to every emergency incident and are increasingly being used all across the public safety services. The special presentation will cover what every fire department needs to know about this popular emerging technology. One lucky attendee will take home a drone for the fire department (you must be present to win). Plus don’t miss the FAMA New Products Showcase: Chris Mc Loone, senior editor of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, will highlight the “Do Not Miss” New Products and Technologies being introduced on the show floor by FAMA member companies. This “sneak peek” will highlight those must-see products and technologies introduced at the show. Event attendees will receive a show guide with additional details of these products to direct them to these latest technologies.

F.O.O.L.S. Bash

More than 20 years ago, seven south central Florida firefighters at FDIC thought the fire service needed something to help bring it together, a fraternal organization, but not just any fraternity-one as unique and as dynamic as the beloved fire service. That was the birth of the Fraternal Order Of Leatherheads (F.O.O.L.S.). The F.O.O.L.S. have a passion not only for the camaraderie and brotherhood that is forged between firefighters but also for the rich tradition and heritage of the fire service. Since 1995, this brotherhood has grown to more than 7,000 strong. There are chapters all over the world.

“Leatherhead” is a term used for a firefighter who uses the leather helmet for protection from the hazards he faces every day on the streets. The leather helmet is an international sign of a firefighter, a symbol that is significant in its tradition from the early years of firefighting and a symbol of bravery, integrity, honor, and pride. The helmet is a sign of who firefighters are, not what they are.

The F.O.O.L.S., like the traditional leather helmet, have always existed throughout the brotherhood of the fire service and will continue to grow and flourish as long as there are fires to fight and emergencies to respond to. The F.O.O.L.S. are about the brotherhood and tradition that the fire service is based on. All firefighters are welcome to be a part of this great organization; one does not have to own a leather helmet to be considered a “Leatherhead.” Join the F.O.O.L.S. at their annual “Brotherhood Bash” held on Wednesday night at FDIC International.

The event is open to everyone, and the winner of the FDIC International Battle of the Bands will provide the entertainment! There will be dancing and celebrating into the night. There will be adult beverages; toasts; and, of course, pipes and drums! The Brotherhood Bash commemorates the F.O.O.L.S.’ founding, the bravery of the preceding years, and a final farewell to those the fire service lost in 2015. Many of the F.O.O.L.S. chapters will be selling coins, shirts, and other collectables. This is the bash of bashes, and it never disappoints. You must be over 21 to participate.

The Bash is more than just a great time and a chance to network with the most training-obsessed firefighters in the world; it is a chance to celebrate life. The F.O.O.L.S. gather to celebrate life because they know better than most how fragile life is. The mission of the F.O.O.L.S. is to secure world-class training for all firefighters and support as many community-based support programs as possible: From toy runs to supporting children with cancer, the F.O.O.L.S. are there on the front lines.

Comedy Night for Cancer

Cancer remains an epidemic in the American fire service. Since 2005, the nonprofit Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN) has helped thousands of cancer-stricken fire/EMS members and their families. FCSN also delivers firefighter cancer awareness and prevention training nationwide.

FCSN returns to FDIC in 2016 with the latest support, cancer-prevention training, and research for the fire service. FCSN will debut the second white paper in its occupational-cancer series at FDIC with PennWell Fire Group as its media partner. Get updates about FCSN’s expanded cancer-prevention training; the new, nationwide train-the-trainer program; and all the details about FCSN’s support for firefighters who have received a cancer diagnosis.

Relax after H.O.T. evolutions with great standup comedy and $3 drafts at FCSN’s Comedy vs. Cancer at FDIC on April 19, 2016, at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown. Travis Howze, former firefighter and police officer, Marine Corps veteran, and star of the international “Funny Under Fire” comedy tour, returns as headliner. Comic Devin Siebold will make his FDIC debut, with Chief Ron Kanterman back as host.

Contact Tim Elliott at for details about comedy night tickets, premium seating, and other information as it becomes available.

FCSN can start helping immediately following a cancer diagnosis with an FCSN cancer-support toolbox. FCSN’s signature toolbox, delivered free of charge, contains tested, proven resources to help firefighters and their families cope with the cancer diagnosis, treatment, and recovery phases.

FCSN offers free badge-to-badge support to fire/EMS members and their immediate families. FCSN’s unique network includes more than 130 peer-support mentors-nearly all are firefighters and paramedics who are cancer survivors themselves. Many mentors started their relationship with FCSN with a phone call or an e-mail seeking assistance for themselves. Now, they’re giving back by helping others through the process.

If you have received a cancer diagnosis, please call FCSN’s toll-free number 1-866-994-FCSN (3276), or use the online assistance-request link at One call, one click of a “send” button, is all it takes to rally your brother and sister firefighters. To learn more about FCSN, visit

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award has been given out during the General Session at FDIC since 1998. In 2009, the award was renamed for Tom Brennan, who was the editor of Fire Engineering for eight years and a technical editor until he passed away in 2006.

Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients:

Frank Brannigan (1998)

Tom Brennan (1999)

Vince Dunn (2000)

Alan Brunacini (2001)

Don Manno (2002)

Ray Downey (2003)

John Eversole (2004)

James Page (2005)

Leo Stapleton (2006)

Dr. Denis Onieal (2007)

John Mittendorf (2008)

Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients:

John Norman (2009)

Ronald Jon Siarnicki (2010)

John F. “Skip” Coleman (2011)

Jack Murphy (2012)

Glenn Corbett (2013)

Ronny J. Coleman (2014)

William C. Peters (2015)

Gerald A. Tracy (2016)

Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award Recipients

FDNY Deputy Chief Ray Downey (2002, posthumously)

St. Louis (MO) Firefighter Derek D. Martin, (2003, posthumously)

Novato (CA) Captain Douglas McDonald (2004)

Philadelphia (PA) Captain John Taylor (2005, posthumously)

Detroit (MI) Senior Firefighter Sean Neary (2006)

FDNY Lieutenant Howard Carpluk (2007, posthumously)

Fall River (MA) Lieutenant Michael Cabral (2008)

Milwaukee (WI) Firefighter Anthony Rueda (2009)

Yuba City (CA) Captain Eric Hankins (2010)

FDNY Firefighter First Class Peter Demontreux (2011)

Chicago (IL) Firefighter Larry McCormack (2012)

Stamford (CT) Firefighter William O’Connell (2013)

Bryan (TX) Lieutenant Gregory Pickard (2014, posthumously)

Wayne Twp. (IN) Firefighter Sean Killelea (2015)

Fire Engineering/George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award

This award, which incorporates the Training Achievement Award previously given by Fire Engineering at the FDIC, is named for George D. Post, who was a long-time member of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI). Post was a member of the Fire Department of New York, an illustrator of fire service publications, and a developer of instructional materials and is considered by many to be the father of visual training material used to train fire service personnel around the world.

Fire Engineering/George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award Recipients:

Eddie Buchanan (2015)

Stephen Kerber (2014)

Mark Emery (2013)

Anthony Avillo (2012)

Brian Kazmierzak (2011)

Robert J. Colameta (2010)

Dan Madrzykowski (2009)

Tom Brennan Training Achievement Award Recipients:

The Seattle Guys (2008)

Jim McCormack (2007)

Don Abbott (2006)

Mark Butler (2005)

Tracy Raynor (2004)

Scott Millsap (2003)

Andy Fredericks (2002)

John Salka (2001)

Ed Brown (2000)

Mike Lombardo (1999)
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