FDIC at Kansas City, A Gathering of the Clan
The Editor’s Opinion Page
March 27, 1973 will mark an anniversary of sorts for us: we will sit down for the 10th time at an opening of the Fire Department Instructors Conference—the 45th Annual which will be held in Kansas City. Our first was held in February 1963 at Memphis, and we can recall flying out of frost-bound New York on our first visit to the South—a dumb Yankee who anticipated palm trees and soft tropical breezes. On the way down, we stopped off at Atlanta where the temperature on Washington’s Birthday went all the way up to 9 degrees Fahrenheit.
And then on to Memphis to meet a northwest wind that was fixing to give the natives a rare chance to ice skate. But the warmth of the men we met (now friends of 10 years standing) more than made up for nature’s chilly reception. Ever since, Memphis and the FDIC have had a special place in our memories.
The FDIC, as its programs demonstrate, was instituted solely for training. And it has held to this purpose down through the years. At the first conference (Chicago, 1928), most attention was given to the basics—teaching and standardizing manipulative functions. Attendance totaled eight; all instructors were hired by the Midwestern rating bureaus. In contrast, attendance in recent years has averaged somewhat over the 3000 mark.
Initially there was some fire service skepticism about the FDIC because of the insurance companies’ instructors, but the years proved the conference’s worth. Not surprisingly, the insurance companies’ instructors gave way to men from the fire service who now dominate the rostrums. The conference, incidentally, no longer concentrates on the basics. The basics have long been replaced by a multi-faceted, high school level program that seems now to be changing to college level.
For this alone, the FDIC is well worth attending. But there are added benefits as we mentioned in our opening paragraph. The FDIC is held strictly for fire fighters and fire departments. There are no dinners and receptions, no business meetings to attend and no elections. When the auditorium closes there is nothing scheduled. Members of the clan—the brotherhood in blue—seek out old friends and make new ones. Maine and Texas meet to swap ideas (and a few lies, perhaps). Oregon and New Jersey do the same.
So, don’t miss it. Come to the gathering of the clan at Kansas City, March 27-30.