I can’t believe it’s been a year since our last visit to Baltimore for the Firehouse Expo. I remember last year's great show, the only thing hotter than our booth was the record setting high temperatures. We will be joined again by my dear friends and brothers Capt. Willie Wines (Ironfiremen ) and Lt. Rhett Fleitz (Firecritic). It takes a lot to put one of these shows together. There is no way we could do it without their help and a few other members of the MN8 Foxfire Boots on the Street team along some new and old members of the MN8-Foxfire team. If you are attending the show make sure to visit us at Booth 123 and also meet up with us Thursday night at the Powerplant Live for the Baltimore FOOLS Brotherhood Bash
This year’s show will be a little different for us as we will be unveiling the new MN8 Foxfire mobile showroom/trailer. We wanted to find a way to transport not only our supplies but also a way to demonstrate our products in complete darkness. Walking in the dark trailer is a great way to see first hand how our products increase visibility by illuminating search areas, reduce disorientation and increase accountability of both tools and personnel. Hopefully, you will have a chance to see the trailer soon. If we make it to your area we will do our best to stop by. As we were putting some last minute touches on our new trailer/mobile show room Saturday, I could not wait to get on the road. Even though we were supposed to leave on Monday morning, our Office Manager Kelly I decided to post on Facebook seeing if any firefighters between Cincinnati and Baltimore might like us to stop in for a quick visit. The response was overwhelming, in less then a few hours we had several requests lined up.
Our first visit was with longtime MN8 Foxfire supporter and Facebook fan Jimmy Weeks of Martins Ferry, OH fire department. We were absolutely overwhelmed when we pulled up to their station and were greeted by over two dozen members of the Martin’s Ferry Fire Department and even some of their family. It was so heartening to see that our efforts to reach all corners of the firefighting community is being touched when several helmets in the department already had our helmet bands. After a great discussion about their upcoming 125th Anniversary and a demonstration of some of our other products, a few of their senior men invited us to visit their very impressive tower truck. We were next off the the great state of Pennsylvania to visit Joe Kriel of the Baldwin (PA) fire department, located on the direct border of Pittsburgh, PA.
Once again were were absolutely humbled to see over a dozen of his brother and sisters (along with several of their kids) waiting for us on the apron as we pulled up in front of their fire station. Just like Harper’s Ferry, they could not have been more excited to see our other illuminating products. By the time we left, a small line formed as several of them purchased products right on site. Kelly and several of the other firefighters watched in amusement as I did everything possible to only drive the trailer forward because I have yet to figure out how to back it up....
After a quick night in beautiful Pittsburgh, PA, we were off bright and early to continue of trip. This next stop was off to Star City Volunteer Fire Department next to Morgantown, WV. Again we were met with open arms and were given a tour of the station and even got to meet their station Dalmatian, Pierce.
From Morgantown is was off to the east past the beautiful scenery of Maryland and West Virginia. We even had the opportunity to take a quick hike on the Appalachian Trail when it crossed over Interstate 70 in Hagerstown.
The night finished up wit a great meal at my biological brothers, Adam’s house. We were treated to an incredible meal of slowed cooked pork shoulder and homemade bread. I even got some quality time to visit with my precious neice and nephew. It always great to break bread with family, especially when you are on the road.
A few months ago, I received a Facebook post from a ARFF firefighter named Paul Dykema inviting me to visit New Mexico. I never miss the opportunity to meet a brother firefighter, especially one in such a scenic city. I have always wanted to visit this part of the country and I knew this would be a great opportunity to not only promote the benefits of MN8-Foxfire but also to soak up the area’s culture and views.
Paul picked me up from the Albuquerque airport and did what any self-respecting firefighter would do with a guest from out of town, show them firetrucks and eat some great food. Paul is not your normal firefighter he is a member of the US Air Force’s elite ARFF and works with not only the US Air Force Special Operations group, but he also has responsibility for keeping the main US military's nuclear weapon cache safe and sound.
They don’t see as many structure fires as Detroit and FDNY but you can bet if something does go wrong these highly trained firefighters are trained to deal with the worst of the worst. After a quick tour of his station and seeing the most impressive ARFF apparatus I have ever seen, we were off to try some of New Mexico’s famous food, especially the green chili.
I love spicy food and having the green chili sauce for breakfast, lunch and dinner was a great treat! These guys put this wonderful ingredient on everything, the New Mexico area McDonald’s even put green chili sauce on their cheeseburgers!
I’m a firm believer in mixing fun with business and this trip was no different. I have always heard about the incredible sunrises/sunsets in this beautiful state and I was able to convince Paul to pick me up at 5:00 AM so we could take a sunrise hike up one of the nearby extinct volcanos. As we hiked up the trail, Paul seemed to be quite amused at my lack of acclimation to the high altitude as I had a hard time keeping up with him, Paul being 6’5” was also not helping....
Even though the sun had not broken the horizon, the moon lit our way up the trail. As we got to the top of the summit, the moonlight started to be replaced by breathtaking purples, oranges, and reds of the sunrise. I was in absolute awe of the intensity of the colors in the sunrise and the majesty of the view of Albuquerque with the mountain ranges in the distance. As we sat in silence, absorbing the view, my thoughts drifted to how fortunate I am to visit such incredible places.
My mission is to bring the illumination of MN8-Foxfire’s man-made advanced photoluminescent products to my brothers in the fire service so we can reduce disorientation and increase accountability. I could not miss the symbolism of this moment as I was in awe of God’s illumination and how man could never make anything so splendid. I now know why they call this area the land of enchantment.
After a quick change, we were off to visit over 15 fire departments in the next 48 hours. It was very exciting meeting these new brothers and seeing their positive feedback as we “turned off the lights.” We even had the opportunity to meet a few of our Facebook friends during our visits.Our travels took us over 500 miles throughout this beautiful state. We visited all types of stations from very small volunteer departments to very large and luxurious stations from Albuquerque to Sante Fe. We saw many very cool fire trucks but one of the most interesting was the one pictured below from Bernalillo FD. If it looks familiar, it's because it was made in to a Matchbox car !
We saw ancient Pueblo villages and incredible original adobe architecture. We drove some of the exact roads that Billy the Kid traveled. Nothing beats having a cold Margarita in a vintage New Mexican bar as we took a break from the desert sun.
I’m looking forward to my next trip to this magnificent part of our country! I’m sure that on my next visit the green glow from all the tools and helmets will be matching the color of their famous chili!
The MN8 Foxfire caravan pulled into the Indianapolis Convention Center wednesday afternoon. We knew it would be a good show when we already had people waiting to talk to us before we even started unpacking our booth.
Later back at the hotel we met up with our celebrity spokesmen Lt. Rhet Flietz ( www.thefirecritic.com) and Capt. Willie Wines (www.ironfiremen.com)
They were very proud to be showing off their brand new kilts. I could not be left out so one of their friends who made the drive with them, Big Mike, of the Renegade Pipes and Drums offered me a kilt to wear.
We met up with the rest of our crew and headed out to the F.O.O.L.S. outdoor party. It was so great seeing several people in the crowd wearing their Foxfire illuminating t- shirts. Rhett and Willie were mobbed like celebrities, everybody wanted their pictures with them. These two giants in the fire service are the real deal. They don’t know a stranger. Every firefighter they meet is greeted as “hey brother.”
The first day of the show was great! A few of us got to the booth several hours before the start and we already had a constant stream of people. So many people were lined up that some had to come back two and three times just to get a demo. We completely sold out of all of our illuminating tetrahedrons and almost sold all of the FDIC winning T-shirts made by firefighter Donald Wedding on the first day.
Some of the greatest comments of the day were from the firefighters that bought our products last year and were now bringing their fellow firefighters over to show them the “magic” as some people called it.
That night we had a chance for our entire team to unwind at one of my favorite restaurants, Adobo. We rented an entire room and spent the night sharing laughs, dancing to the Mariachi bands, eating table-side made guacamole and drinks, lots of fresh made margaritas.
The next two days were just like the first two, action packed and a constant stream of distributors, firefighters, and others wanting to hang out with the MN8-Foxfire team and to learn more about how our advanced photoluminescent technologies can help increase visibility, reduce disorientation and improve accountability. We even were interviewed by Mike Brooks of CNN Headline News.
The last day, we signed up for our new booth for next years show and after speaking with the person at the conference, she made a comment, “So you guys are the ones we’ve been hearing about that has been so busy that you've been blocking the aisles with all your crowds. Outside of the special visit from the “Swamp People” and the bikini girls we were one of the busiest booths at the show."
When I look back on the show and what we have accomplished since last year, I tried to figure out how we could have gained so much traction so fast and the answer is simple. The reason is something we have talked about many times before. We are taking an innovative technology and making a difference in the safety of our brothers. Every dollar we make goes back into growing our mission of "By firefighters for firefighters." We are not a huge corporation that can spend millions of marketing dollars on big trade-show booths and full page advertisements. We are just a bunch of firefighters trying to look out for each other.
It’s Fire Department Instructor’s Conference Week (FDIC)! Our team is excited about heading to Indianapolis. We’ll be demonstrating how Foxfire products help increase firefighter safety at Booth #3026 of the Indiana Convention Center.
One of the new things we’ll be talking about is the MN8-Foxfire Boots on Street program. After many months of planning, we successfully launched this new program just a couple weeks ago with a small group of firefighters. Now, we’re ready to expand the program to an even larger group.
Boots on the Street Overview
So many of you kept sharing your stories with us of how Foxfire products have kept you and your brothers safer on the job. And many of you have taken it upon yourselves to start sharing the safety advantages of our products with other firefighters. That’s why we decided to create this program.
The MN8-Foxfire Boots on the Street program is a community of firefighters interested in building a safer environment for all firefighters. Members can be as active in the program as they are able to, on his or her days off from the firehouse. Armed with Foxfire illuminating products and a demo sized axe handle with Foxfire grip wrap and epoxy, Boots on the Streets members will visit with other firefighters and fire departments. They will then demonstrate the product and safety features of Foxfire illuminating products to other firefighters, as well as share their own experiences using the products.
Each Boots on the Street member will receive monthly commissions for sales they’ve made, bonus’ for recruiting others into the program and ongoing training and support. There is an initial cost to purchase the sales kits.
Boots on the Street is all about keeping our brothers safe. If you’re part of the program, you can be an integral part of helping your brothers improve their safety. By demonstrating what Foxfire illuminating products can do, you’ll be helping firefighters reduce disorientation, improve accountability and increase visibility so that all “boots on the street” are accounted for.
If you’d like to learn more about the program, you can select the “join our team” button at the of our website at www.mn8foxfire.com
Or if you’re at FDIC this week, our Boots on the Street Coordinator, Mariah Leavitt, will be at the MN8-Foxfire booth ready to talk about the program. Mariah will also be sharing some of her own thoughts about the Boots on the Street program in the upcoming weeks on our blog.
Thanks as always for your support in helping us create products that save lives.