Elwood: It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses.
Jake: Hit it.
I could not get this quote out of my head as we watched our hometown of Cincinnati fade in the rear view mirror. It dawned on us that by the time we returned home from this trip we would have traveled over 3,600 miles in three weeks. That's the equivalent of driving from Miami, Florida to Seattle, Washington....
As we always do, we went to Facebook and posted our travel route so we could meet some of our fans on our way to Denver, CO. Our first stop was the great men of Greenville Fire Protection District and our host Firefighter Robert Neer. Rob and his brothers made us feel like part of their family and even pulled out their very impressive 2500 gallon pumper tanker with a 2000GPM tank. Talk about flowing big water!!!!
From Greenville our next stop was to meet FF Dennis Sharp and Camp Jackson FD located in the shadows of the St. Louis arch. I was absolutely humbled and moved to see EVERY helmet in their department has a Foxfire helmet band in service. My greatest pride comes when I learn how our advanced photoluminescence products help my brother firefighters reduce disorientation and improve accountability. I can only imagine how great it must feel to see Foxfire’s illumination on every member of your department when light is out and danger is up.
We finally pulled into beautiful Denver, Colorado after 22 hours in the car. After a quick set -up of our booth at the convention center, it was off to Colorado Springs for some sight-seeing.
Our first stop was Manitou, CO and Pikes Peak. We decided to forgo the hike to the top of one of Colorado’s highest peaks and take the historic COG railway to the summit. The scenery from the 25% grade tracks was spectacular.
Once we arrived at the 14,110’ summit, the views were nothing short of amazing. It was this exact same vista that inspired poet Katherine Lee Bates to write the poem “America the Beautiful” We could actually see the same purple mountains and beautiful spacious skies that she saw as she wrote her iconic poem.
After 25 minutes at this oxygen deprived altitude it was time to head back down. I was amazed at how the thin air gave us all headaches and a dizziness that I usually correlate to having one too many adult beverages.
After the 3 hour Pikes Peak experience it was time for a much needed meal in the historic and beautiful town of Manitou Springs. We ate a very tasty and filling hungarian meal of potato pancakes and beef stroganoff. As we tried to walk off a few of the calories from this great meal, we did what any self-respecting glutton would do, eat some frozen custard. Not just any frozen custard but this place took a real slice of cherry pie and blended it into to the tasty custard. We were amazed when we found out our server was not only the owner but had just recently won the Pike’s Peak marathon. We could barely walk a few hundred feet around the summit without being winded and this guy ran up the elevation and 26.2 miles to the top and back down again in 3 hours and 48 minutes!!!
We headed back to Denver that evening and noticed that our beloved MLB first place Red’s arch rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals, were in town that night to play the Colorado Rockies. We could not pass up the chance to don our Cincinnati Reds jerseys and root against the Cards !!!
During my recent visit to Vancouver for the Fire Chiefs of British Columbia conference, I had the honor to meet and speak with Wayne Jasper. Wayne is the Director & LODD Chairman of the CFFF (Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation). Wayne is one of those people you meet that from the second you meet him, you know there is something unique about him. You could look in his eyes and see both the intensity and compassion he has for serving his fellow firefighters and especially the families of the fallen.
I was very moved by our conversations on how we are all connected by our service to the fire industry. Wayne and I had several great discussions both at the show and later at dinner on how innovative new technology like MN8-Foxfire helps firefighters. We also talked about how the growth of synthetic combustibles have increased the hazards to firefighters. It seems as advanced as our gear, education, and training is, we are still losing too many of our brothers to unnecessary injuries. Even though we all accept the risks that go in to this job, it seems like the most dangerous thing we encounter is not fire or cheap construction but rather a very silent and invisible hazard; cancer.
Unlike smoke, fire, and collapsing building, cancer does not kill you quickly. Rather it sometimes raises its ugly head later in life and in some cases long after we put away our turnout gear for the last time. What is even more frustrating is that almost all types of cancers created from exposures on the fire ground are preventable. Early in my career, I wanted to look tough by fighting auto fires without my mask and taking my mask off during overhaul. After learning more about how dangerous this is and meeting firefighting cancer survivors like Scott Estrada of Cal Fire, I no longer make those types of poor decisions.
WEARING YOUR MASK is one of the best ways to ensure that cancer will not cut your life short as you enjoy retirement or during your later years in the fire service.
To learn more about programs for cancer education, awareness, and prevention please take some time to visit the:
Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation
One thing that Wayne shared with me is how the CFFF treats cancer deaths, even during retirement, as a LODD. When a firefighter goes down as the result of their service even during retirement, Wayne explained that the CFFF will be there for their family.
Our conversation shifted to the importance of brotherhood and how Wayne said how impressed the Canadian fire service was when during a multiple LODD several years ago a contingent of the FDNY helped cover a shift for a rural Canadian fire department. He also talked about how Canadian firefighters have attended multiple 9/11 events (several even voulteered at the WTC rubble pile) and US LODDs.
I was both embarrassed and frustrated to hear that there was virtually no representation from US firefighters (the last event had only two firefighters from the US in attendance) during the last several national Canadian Fallen Firefighter ceremonies. Wayne told me about their national memorial service in the Canadian capitol of Ottawa. We have over 10 times more firefighters in the US than they have in Canada. They make the trip to the US for LODD funerals, they buy our products and they support our causes. In a few months from now on Sept. 9th they will dedicate the national Canadian firefighter’s memorial in Ottawa. I will be making the trip in my class A’s. The badge on my chest will represent my department but the flag on my shoulder will represent my beloved country. I would be honored if we could field a big presence from the US. It would be great to spend some time with you and introduce you to our brothers up north.
With that in mind MN8-Foxfire along with the help of Capt. Willie Wines of the IronFiremen Blog will be arranging a bus trip to Ottawa for this special event. If you can make it, please do. Click here to buy a seat on the bus that leaves from Cincinnati, Ohio on Friday 9/7 travels up I-75 to Detroit, MI to Ottawa comes back early Monday 9/10. The ticket will include lodging, breakfast and travel. You will need a valid passport and not have a criminal record. There will even be a few extras from MN8-Foxfire and a few other surprises in store.
Again, click the link below to purchase your tickets for this very exciting trip:
Phenix Technology Teams with MN8-Foxfire In Offering Foxfire Illuminating Fire Safety Products as Upgrades on all Phenix Fire Helmets
Phenix Technology, the manufacturer of Phenix Fire Helmets, is pleased to announce its partnership with MN8-Foxfire, the developer of Foxfire illuminating fire safety products for firefighters, in offering Foxfire products as an upgrade on all of its helmets.
Foxfire illuminating helmet bands and tetrahedrons will be available as upgrades on all Phenix Fire Helmets, effective immediately. Foxfire products utilize an advanced photoluminescent technology that possess the unique capacity to absorb and store light and then release it as a bright luminance in the dark. The bright glow emitted from Foxfire’s helmet bands, tetrahedrons and other products illuminates surroundings and serves as a light emitter, enabling firefighters to keep track of their crews in dark environments. When fully charged (by any light source), Foxfire products can glow for up to 17 hours.
“At Phenix, our mission is to provide firefighters with top quality, safe and comfortable head protection,” said Ray Russell, president at Phenix Technology. “Foxfire products enhance the safety of firefighters. Once we saw the glow from the products in the dark, we knew that they were a perfect compliment to our mission of providing products that keep firefighters safe.”
Phenix offers three different types of helmets and a variety of helmet accessories. Phenix Helmets include:
- TL-2 Traditional Leather Firefighting Helmet, which weighs about 55 ounces and is the lightest NFPA leather helmet made. Foxfire illuminating helmet tetrahedrons available as an upgrade to standard tetrahedrons; Foxfire illuminating helmet bands also an available accessory.
- TC-1 Traditional Composite, which offers a low profile and ideal center of gravity, providing an ergonomic design. Foxfire illuminating helmet tetrahedrons available as an upgrade to standard tetrahedrons; Foxfire illuminating helmet bands also an available accessory.
- First Due Series Contemporary, which brings together style, durability and comfort and can be customized to meet a department’s needs. Foxfire illuminating helmet bars will soon be available as an upgrade to standard helmet strips; Foxfire illuminating helmet bands also an available accessory.
“Phenix helmets have an outstanding reputation in the firefighting industry,” said Zachary Green, president of MN8-Foxfire. “We are honored that Foxfire products will be offered as accessories on all new Phenix helmets. We look forward to working with Phenix in keeping more firefighters safe by utilizing our technology to reduce disorientation and increase personnel accountability in low light environments.”
Phenix Helmets are available through the Phenix distributor network. Visit www.phenixhelmets.com to locate a distributor near you.
About Phenix Technology
Phenix Technology was founded in 1972 by two firefighters who had the desire to make safe helmets that incorporated balance, longevity, lightweight and ergonomics; and were usable for all types of emergencies. Now operating for more than four decades, Phenix Technology has accumulated a wealth of design knowledge and is a recognized manufacturer and seller of high quality professional fire helmets built to NFPA industry standards. Phenix Technology’s fire helmets are used by thousands of firefighters in the United States and worldwide. Proud to offer only products that are American made, Phenix Technology operates out of its headquarters located in Riverside, California. For more information, visit www.phenixfirehelmets.com
MN8-Foxfire is a firefighter owned company offering energy efficient and eco-friendly products utilizing breakthrough advanced illumination technology. MN8’s product offerings for the fire safety industry, marketed under the name Foxfire®, have earned a reputation for safety, high quality and performance-proven. This is readily apparent in Foxfire’s photoluminescent helmet bands, coating kits, grip wrap, equipment bands, T-shirts, helmet tetrahedrons and other products. Both the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and Cincinnati Innovates have recognized MN8-Foxfire for its efforts in developing technology that keeps firefighters safe. The company is headquartered in Wyoming, Ohio, a Cincinnati suburb. For more information, visit www.mn8products.com.
Hero. It’s a word that is thrown around too much to many people that don’t deserve the honor of that title. A professional athlete is NOT a hero, a movie star is NOT a hero (even if they play one on film). A hero is someone that is willing to put their life on the line for someone they may have never met. A hero is not someone who is never scared, but rather someone that looks at danger and pushes through their fear to accomplish their mission. Author Brodi Ashton put it best, “Heroes are made by the paths they choose, not the powers they are graced with.”
We are all privileged to work with heroes every time we report for duty at the fire station, but yesterday I had the chance to work with another group of heroes; police.
I had the honor to ride-a-long with the great men and women of the Cincinnati Police Department. Officer Matt Latzy was generous enough to let me ride shotgun with him during his shift. The day started out with the morning line-up. The duty sergeant covered information on some of the latest intelligence on some recent burglaries and incidents, and then the entire shift lined up for weapon and gear inspection. It reminded me of my days back in the US Marine Corps hearing the commands dress right dress, inspection arms, etc. We loaded up in the patrol car and were immediately dispatched to a robbery in progress.
As we were looking for the suspect, several irate females decided to start yelling at each other in the middle of the street. Here we are actively patrolling for a suspect and these two women are standing in the middle of the street blocking us from passing as they yelled back and forth about the one lady needing her shoes and cd back form the other’s apartment. I was very impressed with the ability of Officer Latzy to both control the situation and diffuse the tempers. As we continued our patrol, I asked him how was he able to keep his personal emotions in check while he engaged these two disrespectful and highly incensed people during such a high stress environment.
He told me that he loves his wife and kids and that he would never let some idiot(s) get in the way for providing for his family. He said that when he puts on his uniform he transforms. His job is to keep the peace. He becomes all about the job and puts his personal comfort and emotions aside. This is professionalism, this is what makes first responders such incredible people. This is what it means to put the greater good of society above the personal comfort of the individual.
As firefighters we do everything together. We eat together, we sleep together, we battle the dragon together. It’s a little different with police in that they spend the vast majority of their day riding solo. This all changes when a run comes out. As Officer Latzy was patrolling the radio lit up with the report of a man brandishing a gun. Instantly the radio traffic was filled with various officers responding to the scene.
We pulled up to the area and saw a suspect matching the description. Officer Latzy relayed the information to the other officers and almost instantly four patrol cars converged on the suspect from different angles. He was surrounded with nowhere to go and instantly surrendered.
What I saw was an amazing display of teamwork, communication and brotherhood. Even though they may spend the majority their time as individuals, when someone needs help they all come together. Just like the fire service they are brothers and a brother never lets a brother down.
Another day another trip on an airplane.... I’ve been home for about 2 days out of the last 14 but at least I have had the chance to visit some warmer climates. My current travels take me back out to the West Coast. About nine months ago, some of you may remember me talking about my visits with Los Angeles Fire Department. Part of the reason for this trip was to follow up on how their evaluation has been progressing in addition to attending Firehouse World in San Diego. I will not only be exhibiting at the show but I will also be participating in some live fire evolutions (I’ll try and post that blog on the airplane when I return Friday)
I pulled into the station and the guys of Engine/Rescue 7 greeted me with open arms. They all immediately retrieved their illuminating helmet bands and also showed me how they had been used over the last several months.
As creative firefighters are, they also showed some new uses for our grip wrap. These were the same guys that showed me how they reconfigured a BBQ rotisserie to spin their tools as they applied the Foxfire Illuminating epoxy so it would not drip. These innovative dragon slayers took our grip wrap and sewed it on to the roof kits straps so if someone would happen to fall through the roof they could throw this in after them and the interior crew could use our advanced photoluminescence to locate the man down.
They invited me for lunch and we had a great discussion about the current state of the fire service. One comment really stuck with me as we were discussing brown-outs and layoffs. One of the firefighters talked about how easy it is for politicians to attack firefighters because no matter how much they take away from us we always find a way to accomplish our mission. I remembered seeing a great cartoon from Paul Combs about this exact issue.
After a great meal with these guys and a ride-a-long, I bid my adieus and headed north to Santa Barbara. I was off to visit my best friends from college and wanted to stop by a nearby winery to pick up a bottle of Santa Barabara’s finest fruit of the vine. Across the street from the winery was a small fire station. I decided to stop in and drop off a few tetrahedrons and a few brochures. The men of Carpinteria FD could not be more welcoming and friendly. It turns out that one of the guys was born in Cincinnati and the other was a big Cincinnati Reds fan. It never ceases to amaze me how connected we are to one another in the fire service.
As soon as I walked into my friends new home, their kids told me about the fire station around the corner. We visited some of the men of the Santa Barabara Fire Department. We happened to drop in as they were having dinner so we were brief but we did get a few minutes to talk about how our products improve accountability, reduce disorientation and help illuminate search sectors.
The next day I awoke very early and took the scenic drive down the Pacific Coast Highway. I watched the beautiful sunrise appear over the mountains and shine it’s beautiful colors over the ocean. I had to pull my car off the side of the road and take a moment to soak in this beauty.
As I sat on the rocks and took in this vista, I began to reflect on how blessed I am to have this incredible opportunity to travel this country and share with my fellow firefighters the benefits of this innovative technology. Just two weeks ago I was in New York City looking at Lady Liberty in the Atlantic Ocean, last week I was in Tampa, FL looking at the Gulf of Mexico and today I was sitting, feeling the mist of the waves of the Pacific. I thought of my time over the last year spent with firefighters from all over this great country. I reflected over the brotherhood I encounter as my travels take me from coast to coast and I thought of the sacred words of last two lines of “America the Beautiful”
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
This past week I had the privilege to be interviewed on the local ABC affiliate about MN8-Foxfire. Interviewing me was Crystal Faulkner of the very well known and respected business advisory and accounting firm of Cooney, Faulkner, and Stevens, LLC. CFS-CPA Business Wise She also hosts a weekly radio and television segment called BusinessWise.
Her guests are usually economic professors, politicians, and CEO’s from various companies around the greater Cincinnati area. I was very privileged to have someone of her stature ask me questions about the how and why we created MN8-Foxfire. Crystal is one of those incredibly successful entrepreneurs that knows true success is not only what you can do but also how you can help others. Crystal stared the interview asking me why I would leave a steady job with a major corporation to start a company in the middle of a recession. I told her that one of my heroes and roles models was Teddy Roosevelt.
Roosevelt always enamored me with his exuberant personality and his “cowboy” mentality. He believed not only in service to his country through community service, politics and serving in the US Army (he was award the Medal of Honor)but also service to his fellow man. His bold leadership and character are something all leaders can strive to achieve. During my interview with Crystal, I discussed one of my favorite quotes of his; “In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.” That is exactly what I thought about when I discovered how we can use this advanced photoluminescent pigment to transform and change the way firefighters operate in limited or no light environments. I knew the first time I observed this technology that I had to do something, I owed it to my brothers in the fire service to develop and promote this incredible technology that helps reduce disorientation and improves accountability of tools and fellow firefighters.
Another topic I discussed in this interview is how incredibly innovative firefighters can be. I have never seen a group of people come up with such novel solutions, products and ideas. How many solutions to problems have been developed sitting on the tail-board of a firetruck? Firefighters HAVE to solve problems, we can't call 912 if we are faced with a situation in which additional help is need to mitigate a problem. A great idea or product is nothing if you can't market, sell, and distribute it to the masses. The opposite is also true (remember the Pet Rock or the Snuggie) To all my fellow firefighters, if you have that next big idea be it a training technique, a product or and idea, don’t just “sit on it” Talk to others that have been successful and learn from them how you can both promote and capitalize on you innovation. It ultimately comes down to helping others and leaving a legacy, remember the worst decision is to do nothing !
Attached is the link to the BusinessWise Interview on WCPO:
MN8-Foxfire Interview on WCPO BusinesWise
A few weeks ago Foxfire was honored by winning one of the twelve grants from the Cincinnati Innovates competition. Cincinnati Innovates is an innovation competition that is open to anyone who has an innovation, idea, or invention and has a Greater Cincinnati connection. This competition is designed to showcase the technological, artistic, and ingenious innovations of all Cincinnatians. Foxfire was selected from over 300 entires.
The grant we received was from 7/79 VIDEO PRODUCTIONS to help produce some incredible upcoming video content showcasing Foxfire’s illuminating technology to help firefighters reduce disorientation, improve accountability of tools and personnel, and to illuminate search areas.
This award was very special for several reasons but one of the main reasons was that we were a runner-up last year. If is was not for last years contest, Foxfire may never have even been created. Let me explain:
Since I was a little kid I always dreamed of two things; becoming a firefighter and creating and running my own business. My dream of being a firefighter was realized almost ten years ago but the dream of becoming an entrepreneur was a little more elusive. For the last 15+ years I had the opportunity to hold some very exciting jobs in the software and pharmaceutical industries. From 2003-2010 I had the privilege to work for a major pharmaceutical corporation. I had wonderful colleagues and really felt that I was able to help physicians improve the quality of life for their patients. As I had the opportunity to climb the corporate ladder, I realized that I was going to have to move from Cincinnati and I was going to also have to do a better job “playing the political game.” I was not willing to do either. Like all firefighters, I call them like I see them and I believe mission accomplishment is more important than people’s feelings. During those last few months, I realized that my options in corporate-america were dwindling, I discovered advanced photoluminescent technology and how it could help my brother firefighters.
I remember being called up to the corporate offices to discuss my next position with the company the same day that I found out we were a finalist for last year’s Cincinnati Innovates Competition. I believe in God and I believe that he has big plans out there for all of us if we are only willing to open our eyes and see the signs. I believe that being notified of us being a finalist for this competition the day before I had my career planning meeting was one of those signs I could not ignore. The recognition from the Cincinnati Innovates contest was the “push” I needed to take the risk to start this company and invest in the technology to transform the firefighting industry. My boss was flabbergasted when I told her I had decided to leave the large corporation to create my own company that was going to help firefighters. Even though she respected my vision she was very clear in her disappointment in me leaving the safety, income, and security of corporate America. I knew I had to do this for me, for my family, and for my firefighting brothers.
As we embark on the one year anniversary of creating Foxfire, I am filled with the pride and honor knowing that our product are now in use by over 10,000 brave firefighters in eight different countries. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive and e-mail, note, or phone call telling me how our products have helped firefighters perform their jobs better and SAFER.
Every day I wake up go to my new office and make runs with my department, I feel like I’m living a dream, a dream that started many years ago. A dream that won’t continue to grow and develop without your help. I never want to have that big corporate-america attitude that doesn't foster and welcome feedback and advice. Keep those contacts coming, let us know what we can do better, let us know what you would like to see next ,we can’t do this without you. We are all in this together, we are all brothers!
We just returned from another fantastic firefighter trade show and we could not have been more pleased. The original plan was to travel down the day before the show to get set up and visit with some of our friends and colleagues. I say original plan because we were thrown a exciting curve ball the week before the show. The week before the show, Foxfire was notified that we won an innovation award from the Cincinnati Innovates Contest Cincinnati Innovates (I plan on writing more about this wonderful honor if our next blog). The only problem was that the award was being presented on Thursday evening in Cincinnati-N/Kentucky and our booth needed to be set up by Thursday afternoon in Atlanta. We were deeply honored to be recognized for this award, however we had to get the booth set up....
After sharing my predicament at the firehouse a few of our younger firefighters (Taylor Wood and Conner Brunck) offered both their pick-up truck and time to drive all the way from Cincinnati to Atlanta and set up the booth. This is brotherhood, this is what gives me such pride to be a firefighter. As I’ve said in previous posts, we are brothers helping brothers and these guys are the epitome of helping out their fellow brothers. They don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk.
Taylor & Conner did a great job driving the booth down to Atlanta in record time (except for the little delay thanks to one of Georgia’s men in blue..) and set the booth up perfectly. They did a stand-up job at the show and shared their personal experiences of how they have used Foxfire’s illuminating products over the last year. Taylor and Conner joined my fire department several years ago as high school cadets and are both now full firefighters in my department. It is so great to watch these former pimple-faced teenagers grow in to not just great firefighters but also young men.
Speaking of brothers I was also helped by a few other brothers at the show. Two individual titians of the fire industry. The first is none other than the Iron Fireman himself, Capt. Willie Wines http://ironfiremen.com/ . Capt. Wines helped us in our booth at the Baltimore Fire Rescue International show last month and I could not be more privileged to have him in our booth again. I watched and listened to Capt. Wines talk and demonstrate Foxfire’s benefits of improving positional orientation, increasing the accountability of tools and personnel, and illuminating search areas. My initial thought was how exciting it is to have such a well known firefighter help sell this product. As I reflected on this, I realized the selling was not what mattered, what mattered was a brother firefighter helping other brother firefighters. My driving force and number one priority for Foxfire is that we need to educate the firefighting community on how advanced photoluminescent technology will positively transform the fire industry and save the lives of our brothers by reducing the second cause of LODD’s, disorientation. Capt. Wines, like myself, is passionate about how these products can help our brothers and I could not be more proud to have him join me in the crusade to help make our brothers be better and SAFER heroes.
The other guest in the Foxfire booth was none other than my own Fire Chief, Robert Rielage. Prior to joining our department he was the State Fire Marshal for the entire State of Ohio. Chief Rielage is a frequent contributing editor to Fire Chief magazine and travels all over the world speaking and consulting on various fire-industry related topics. He is great leader, a deeply respected mentor and a fantastic chief. He one of those people that makes you a better person by having him in your life. A few months ago, he asked to help me in our booth at the Fire Rescue International show I literally got goose-bumps. He was willing to put both his personal and professional credibility on the line by wearing our shirt and representing our company in front of his peers. Again, I thought to myself what a great thing to do for a fellow brother but like Capt. Wines, it hit me. He was not just doing this for me, he was doing it for all firefighters. He to feels passionate about what this product can do for our fellow firefighters and he wants to teach and show as many firefights, officers, and chiefs as possible that these products can and do save lives.
The show was tremendous, there were several times that we had more people in our booth than all the booths in our aisle combined. We sold every single illuminating helmet band we brought and were busy from the start to the finish.
We met some new friends and many old friends. One new friend in particular we met was Mariah Leavitt of Fire Rescue TV Fire Rescue TV. It was great sitting next to her and Rhett Fleitz (Fire Critic & Daily 911 Deals) at dinner and listen to them spend all night comparing who had the bigger social media footprint. We also got to briefly visit with the guys from Fat Ivan Fat Ivan who also had a great show.
As I drove home, I was overcome with the realization that we are not even a year old and yet our impact is transforming the fire-industry. In this short time we have sold over 10,000 products to firefighters in over 8 countries. Every week I get e-mails, phone calls, and messages about how our products help firefighters find their tools, keep track of their crews and reduce disorientation. I’m living a dream, a dream that started as a little kid playing on the fire truck at Cincinnati FD Station 34. The only thing that makes me more excited than living the dream of being a firefighter is the privilege to help other firefighters around the world by introducing them to this innovative new technology that will and has made their jobs safer.
I just returned from paradise.
Every year my family and I make it a point to visit Hawaii, the land of aloha. The word aloha has many meanings, most of us are familiar with the common usage of hello/goodbye but the literal translation is alo=presence, ha=breath. In the ancient days native Hawaiins would great each other by actually standing face to face and exchanging literal breaths. It is from this intimate expression of compassion, welcome, and love that the word aloha is derived.
The more I thought about the warmth and compassion we were shown as guests of these beautiful islands, the more I thought about how lucky I am to be a firefighter. Every firefighter has a special and unique connection to every other firefighter no matter where they are stationed. We commit the ultimate act of compassion by putting our life on the line to protect our fellow neighbors. We are the breath of life when we rescue or fellow citizens or sometimes our fellow firefighters from the dangers of heat and smoke. Firefighting embraces both the literal and figurative spirit of Aloha.
On this trip, as all trips, I made it a point to visit the local fire stations to show them the Foxfire line of illuminating products. I always make it a point to talk about Foxfire’s illumination technology that increase visibility, help with accountability of tools and personnel and reduce disorientation. This trip was no different. I spent part of one day visiting with the fine men of the Honolulu Fire Department discussing how these products can help with interior operations. I had a great discussion with one of the crews about the latest developments in firefighter safety and how our illuminating technology was on the cutting edge.
I also had a opportunity to visit with some of our nations bravest and courageous sailors in the US Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor. We discussed ways in which our product can help them better operate in the absence of light. Even though their job is different than that of a firefighter we all face the same challenges when we work in the dark.
The next part of my Hawaiian trip was off to the beautiful island of Kauai. This island is nothing short of paradise. I visited with one of the engine companies near our hotel and they were also very interested in our products, especially our illuminating t-shirts.
They directed me back to one of the the main stations 25 miles away. I’m used to traveling from station to station to meet with the key decision makers at various departments but this trip was quite special. Never before have I looked out my car window and seen such majestic waterfalls, vistas, and tropical mountains on my typical goose chase from station to station.
As I was walking in to the station, the assistant chief was virtually walking out. He gave me a few minutes to share why our products are so valuable to helping firefighters overcome the three biggest risks we encounter, visibility, accountability (of tools and personnel) and orientation. He sated that he was heading off to see the chief and I was welcome to “tag along”
The next thing I know, I’m standing in front of the chief and it turns out that he grew up a few short miles from my house and went to one of my rival high schools. Here I am in the middle of the Pacific ocean and I run in to someone that lived in my neck of the woods. It just goes to show you that we are all part of one large firefighting brotherhood no matter if you are in a major city, rural america, or a tropical island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, we are all connected !