It's here! This week is when Fire Department Instructor Conference (FDIC), the world's largest firefighter training conference and exhibition, is held in Indianapolis.
FDIC is a huge event for MN8-Foxfire. It gives us the chance to meet thousands of firefighters and demonstrate how Foxfire products can help increase accountability and decrease disorientation, thereby keeping them safer on the job.
Today, we dropped our trailer off at the Indiana Convention Center ready for our booth setup on Wednesday (exhibits are open Thursday, Friday and Saturday). If you're attending FDIC, you won't want to miss the MN8-Foxfire Booth (#5571). We have our largest booth yet because we have so many things planned, including some BIG surprises! We can't reveal them all to you now, but we can give you you a sneak peek of where you can find MN8-Foxfire during FDIC and what will be happening at our booth:
- If you're attending one of the Vent-Enter-Search Hands on Training (H.O.T.) training classes on Monday or Tuesday, you may notice some tools illuminated by some familiar photoluminescent technology. These illuminating hooks and axes will be used by class participants during the training.
- Foxfire products will also be part of the Man vs. Machinery H.O.T. classes, led by Lt. Mark Gregory of FDNY and Lt. Pat Nichols of Boston FD. If you're attending one of these sessions, you're certain to notice helmets with Foxfire illuminating helmet bands and other illuminating accessories.
- Thursday, exhibits open at 1 p.m. at the Indiana Convention Center. At 2:30 p.m., we'll be holding a big "unveiling" event for a major product announcement. Everyone who attends this unveiling, held at our booth #5571, will receive a special prize.
- We'll be introducing a total of 5 new products/product lines for the very first time! Since last year, our product line has considerably expanded. In fact, all of our products will be on display/available for purchase during the show. We are very excited about making these new products available to you, our fellow firefighters. As always, you'll be able to view these products in the light and in the dark in our blackout tents so you can see the illumination for yourself. Several of the new products grew from suggestions from our fans and product users. If you aren't able to attend FDIC and see these new products for yourself, we'll be making them available to you and letting you know about them and how you can purchase them later in the week.
- Two of the new products are through collaborations with companies we are big fans of: Fat Ivan and Box Alarm Leather. We can't wait to let you know what these product are!
- Our booth will also be a hub of activity for some of our firefighting blogger friends. Rhett Fleitz, the Fire Critic, Willie Wines Jr., Iron Firemen and Dave Statter, Statter911 will all be spending considerable time at our booth, so be sure to stop by to meet them! Willie and Rhett will once again be helping with Foxfire product demonstrations, so you can ask them firsthand about their experiences using our products.
- You'll also find Mark Gregory and Pat Nichols, from PL Vulcan Fire Training Concepts spending time at the MN8-Foxfire booth.
That's it, our sneak peek of everything we have going on this week for FDIC. If you're attending the show, be sure to put us on our "don't miss" list! Will we see you there?
Here's the MN8-Foxfire trailer, parked in the convention center, and ready to go for the week!
A few months ago we received an exciting call from the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber telling us that they had nominated us for a very prestigious award. Every year the Ohio Chamber of Commerce asks each of Ohio's 22 regional chamber of commerce offices to nomitate an individual company for the Ohio Chamber of Commerece's Excellence in Entrepreneuership Award. This award is presented to an Ohio company that best demonstrates outstanding performance, growth, sustainability, innovation, and has a proven impact on their community.
Last week, a few members of the MN8 Foxfire team made the trip to the statehouse theater in Columbus for the award ceremony. There were 300-400 people in attendance. The keynote speech was by Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard. She gave an impassioned speech on innovation and leadership. Carly remained on stage with Andrew Doehrel, president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce for the award presentation.
I was both honored and humbled to find out that MN8 Foxfire was actually one of the three finalist to be brought up on stage. The governor himself actually appeared via video to announce the winner. When he announced MN8 Foxfire as Entrepreneur of the Year and recipient of the 2013 Excellence in Entrepreneurship, I was completely overcome with emotion.
With this award we also received a check for $25,000. We are firm believers in the "paying it forward" principle and we plan on using a portion of that money to give back to our brother and sister firefighters. We will be working with the Ohio Fire Marshal to identify financially stressed departments in Ohio so we can give them Foxfire products.
As I took in this experience, I thought about how incredible this journey has been over the last few years. I thought about how much fun I have had visiting fire departments all of the world. I thought about what started as a novel idea to help firefighters increase accountability and reduce disorientation has turned into such a thriving and growing company. Words can not express how privilaged I am knowing that 40,000 firefighters in 25+ countries are now safer because of Foxfire.
As I began to speak I remembered three very distinct dreams I had as a young kid. I wanted to be a US Marine, a firefighter and a entrepreneur. I also thought of all those great people and institutions in my life that helped make me who I am today and how none of this would have been possible with out all of their love, support, leadership and connections. For those of you who have a dream, follow it, sometimes they do come true.
I think Theodore Roosevelt said it best:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
Ian Swarr is a 14-year old boy who has always dreamed of becoming a firefighter. He was born with a rare genetic skin disorder called Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).
EB patients have very fragile skin which can blister at the slightest touch. Normal day-to-day life can cause constant pain and scarring, which, in the worse forms, can lead to disfigurement, disability and often early death. As a consequence, any activity that rubs or causes pressure produces a painful sore to a second degree burn. As if the diagnosis is not heartbreaking enough, no treatment for EB has been effective.
For Ian this means that he is not able to run, play sports or swim in the ocean. He is very limited as to what food he can consume. Scar tissue has caused Ian's esophagus to be no bigger than a pencil. He has undergone three surgeries to open his esophagus to make it easier to eat and even swallow his own saliva.
Despite these obstacles, Ian's goal is to become a firefighter someday so that he can save others.
Talk about a hero. Ian captured our attention and we would like to make him an honorary firefighter for a day.
On Saturday, March 2 in Cincinnati, MN8-Foxfire will be the proud sponsor of "Fire-Fighting for Ian," a benefit to recognize Ian. The event will be held at Landmark from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
As part of the event, we are hosting a truck class taught by two pillars of the fire service; Mark Gregory (FDNY) and Pat Nichols (Boston FD), co-owners of P.L. Vulcan Training Concepts. The program is designed to stress the importance of being a "Street Smart Truckie." Size up considerations on today's fireground will be discussed as well as proper techniques in forcible entry, search, laddering, ventilation and VES. The cost for this class is $25 (lunch is included) and all proceeds from the event will be donated to help Ian and his family with the financial hardships they face associated with Ian's extensive and complex care.
We will also have prize drawings for attendees as well as a fire parade at the end of the class with Ian as the Grand Marshall! There are several ways you can help Ian:
Attend the "Fire-Fighting for Ian" Class on March 2nd. To register, please click here.
Bring a fire truck to the class for the parade.
If you are unable to attend the class, please consider making a donation to help Ian and his family. To donate, please click here.
Thanks for helping us to recognize Ian - A true hero!
Please join us in welcoming Tom Bauer to the MN8-Foxfire team! Tom will be serving as MN8-Foxfire’s National Sales Manager. His primary focus will be growing and supporting the Boots on the Street team, our team of independent sales representatives. You’ll be seeing him at various trade shows this year and on the road visiting fire stations.
Tom has more than 12 years selling Enterprise SaaS and licensed software solutions and more than six years experience in consumer packaged goods calling on regional and national accounts managing partners, retail sales representatives, distributors and brokers. He has also conducted hundreds of training courses. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing and management from Eastern Kentucky University. He is also beginning the process of becoming a volunteer firefighter.
Tom’s contact information is:
859.307.5189 – Cell
513.761.7614 – Office
Hope your 2013 is off to a great start!
This week on the MN8-Foxfire Facebook page we asked if anyone had firefighting-related New Year’s resolutions. Here are just of the great resolutions people reported:
“Getting off extended medical leave and getting back to my irons!!”
“Make progress into becoming an EMT and becoming an actual member.”
“Return whole crew back to quarters after every alarm, no LODD on my watch.”
“Train, train, train.”
The MN8-Foxfire team has been busy making plans for 2013. It’s going to be a great year for our customers, distributors, Boots on the Street sales reps and employees and we can't wait to share the things we have in store for you!
We’ve even made some New Year’s resolutions of our own! What do you think? Any more for us?
• Always keep the safety of our customers in mind with every product we offer.
• Keep asking for customer feedback for new product ideas and product improvements.
• Offer even better customer service.
• Introduce some great new illuminating products.
• Meet as many of you as we can at trade shows, station visits, training events and more.
• Keep having fun!
Wishing you a safe and great new year!
BURN - Official Theatrical Trailer (2012) from BURN on Vimeo.
Last night, members of our Foxfire team and a group of local firefighters headed to downtown Cincinnati for a special showing of the “BURN, One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit” movie. If you aren’t yet familiar with the film, it is a feature documentary about Detroit, told through the eyes of Detroit firefighters, who are charged with the thankless task of saving a city that many have written off as dead. (http://detroitfirefilm.org/)
When we arrived at the theater, we were happy to see a full house. We already knew a lot of the firefighters who were in attendance. The film is depressing at times as it explores the dangers of unilateral cuts to public safety that causes lack of funding for much needed firefighting tools, equipment and personnel. However, the film really speaks to the challenges of firefighting. No matter how challenging the situation, it’s our responsibility as firefighters to rise to the occasion.
Several firefighters from Detroit were at the screening and afterwords, a great Q&A session was held. One of the people in the audience was a firefighter from an Appalachian area of Kentucky who pointed out that many of the challenges faced by the firefighters in the film are the same challenges many of us face, especially in the current economy. It’s true, even though there may be challenges and dysfunctions in our communities, firefighters everywhere share a common bond of believing in our communities by attempting to make a difference every day.
Detroit is a representation of all of the United States of America. We know it's not how hard we get hit, it's how quick we get up. The recent Super Bowl commercial starring Clint Eastwood says it best:
I had a fun moment when one of the Detroit firefighters on stage for the Q & A , recognized me from my Detroit visits and ride-a-longs. He pointed me out to the crowd as an example of how we are all part of the same family and how I was able to join his crew as we fought fire and spent 24 hours together. That station in Detroit has the exact same firefighters as any department across the United Sates, only different names and faces.
To find out if Burn is playing in a city near you or to request a screening in a city near you, visit: http://detroitfirefilm.org/events/
October is breast cancer awareness month and the color pink seems to be busting out everywhere. Many people – including firefighters – are donning ribbons and wearing pink to honor cancer survivors and raise cancer awareness.
Cancer seems to have touched so many of our lives. Not only has it affected me personally by taking away a loved one last year, but it is also one of the most dangerous things a firefighter can encounter. In addition to heat, smoke and building collapse dangers, firefighters must be alert to the dangers of the silent killer, cancer.
Over the past year or so, we’ve gotten to know Jim Plieth, Cindy Ell and others with the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation. It’s a great organization that has programs set up to provide resource assistance to firefighters and family members that are stricken by cancer.
Because we feel strongly about highlighting awareness of this dangerous disease and what the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation is all about, we decided to team up with them in spreading cancer awareness. So if you haven’t had a chance to get into the act of wearing pink and spreading the news about cancer awareness, it’s not too late. And there’s also a way you can help other firefighters and firefighter families who have been affected by cancer by purchasing and wearing one of our Foxfire illuminating cancer awareness shirts. We’ve been selling these shirts (which have been extremely popular), for a number of weeks. In addition to the great design and the shirt’s illuminating qualities, one of the best things about these shirts is that a portion of the sales is being donated to the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation.
You can order a shirt from our webstore. Each shirt has the Foxfire logo on the front and a “Firefighters for a Cure” graphic on the back. And in the dark, the graphics illuminate!
We also have a second version that fire departments may personalize with their department name. A minimum order of 25 is required for this option. If you’re interested in this option, give us a call at 513-761-7614.
Cancer may seem daunting at times but there is plenty we can all do to help raise awareness, prevent cancer and support sufferers. Whether you purchase a Foxfire cancer awareness shirt and help the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation through your purchase or pursue other cancer awareness activities, we hope you will do all you can to help others affected by cancer—especially our fellow firefighters.
MN8-Foxfire President Zachary Green proudly wearing his Foxfire illuminating cancer awareness T-Shirt
cancer awareness T-shirt
Many of you have followed the challenges currently faced by the Detroit Fire Department. For a first hand look about the how the city of Detroit is seen by it’s firefighters, take a few minutes and watch the preview of the documentary BURN.
BURN Trailer (2009, Original) from BURN on Vimeo.
It’s one thing to watch these videos, it’s another thing to actually walk a day in their boots. I had this incredible opportunity last week when I was given the second opportunity in four months to ride with the Detroit Fire Department. The more firefighters I meet, the more I realize how similar we all are. It seems like every station has the same guys, just different faces. This was no different in Detroit except for one thing; attitude. Life is not about what happens to us, it’s how you react to it. It seems like no matter how many lemons these men are faced with they always manage to turn them in to lemonade. My personal department and I’m sure many others around this country, could learn quite a bit from the DFD about the power of positive attitude.
In between runs, on my visit a few months ago, one of the men showed me a very cool t-shirt they had designed. I could not resist seeing if they would let us make a Foxfire illuminating version of the shirt. Last week on my 24 hour ride-a-long I had the opportunity to present the shirts to the men of the “Big House.” They could not have been more excited. Next time you are in the Detroit area and see glowing green eyes looking at you through the dark you can relax knowing that it is not a possessed pit bull but rather one of the guys from the DFD !
Detroit was once was once one of the crown jewels of our country and the epitome of the second industrial revolution. Looking out of the back of the fire truck, the sights reminded me more of Beruit than a major US city. I can understand the poverty, the amount of vacant buildings and crime in these neighborhoods but what I can’t understand how the city's politicians could possibly neglect our brother Detroit firefighters. We have all seen politicians turn their backs on firefighters all over the country but what is happening in Detroit is unconscionable. Their gear, tools and trucks are in such a state of disrepair that I couldn’t believe my eyes.
This treatment from the politicians was best summarized by a cartoon hanging on a bulletin board in their quarters. I couldn't resist take a picture.
To add insult to injury, they recently laid off and demoted several firefighters that I have met over the last few months. Regardless of these hardships, the DFD has one thing that the city can’t take away from them; attitude. The gear, trucks, and tools didn’t seem to bother these men as they charged into burning buildings and put wet stuff on the red stuff faster and more efficiently than few other departments around. I had a first hand view of them in action as they let me join their crew over 24 hours. I saw more fire and action in those 24 hours than most department typically sees in a few months. These men didn't seem to let ANY of their hardships get in the way of them providing outstanding service to their community.
I shared some pictures of my 24 hours with these valiant warriors on Facebook and was impressed by how quickly the posts racked up. Mike McCarthy of the Black Hat Radio show saw some my posts and wanted to share the story of how incredible these role models are to all of us in the fire service. Mike was so moved to hear about my experiences that he actually did a live interview with both me and my sponsor Sgt. John Edwards.
Black Hat Radio Podomatic
Black Hat Radio -Facebook
Another reply was from Troy Mutch, one of Foxfire’s most trusted and best distributors. Troy works for Commercial Solution-First Responders in Edmonton, Canada. Edmonton’s economy has been booming over the years thanks to the Alberta oil sands and their firefighters have the best of the best when it comes to equipment. Commercial Solutions has certainly reaped the benefits of the generous budgets of the Canadian fire service. Troy is a firefighter above all else and he wanted to help his brothers in need, even if they were thousands of miles away and in another country. Troy could not believe that firefighters actually fought fire in this condition of gear.
Commercial Solutions-First Responders
Commercial Solutions- First Responders Facebook
When Troy saw a few of my posts about my ride along, he did what a true brother should do. He not only helped, he did something that left all of us both speechless and awestruck. Troy spoke with the men of Squad 5 and is donating 15+ pairs of brand new Black Diamond boots and personal bail out kits. Even though he lives in another country, the bonds of brotherhood inspired him so much that he could not turn his back on his firefighters in need. After hearing about this generous donation, one of the firefighters pulled me aside and with tears in his eyes and talked about how much they appreciated this very generous gesture. He stated that he dreads putting his old rubber boots on because they are always wet due to cracks and excessive wear. His boots have caused him continual foot problems as a result. I can’t wait to hear how he feels after trying out his new Black Diamonds. Troy is definitely his brother's keeper.
As I drove home to Cincinnati the next morning, I thought about how much I learned from this trip. I learned that brotherhood is blind when it comes to race, distance and nationality. I learned that it doesn’t matter how hard you get hit, it’s how fast you get back up. Detroit has taken a few body blows but the shoulders of the Detroit Fire Department are more than strong enough to keep their beloved city from falling down.
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 !!!
Drinking from a hydrant was the best way to explain the opening of the 2012 Baltimore Firehouse Expo in Baltimore. You try to get just a sip and instead you have 500 GPM of water flowing full force. Within the first 5 minutes of the show, we had over 30 people in our booth. What was even more impressive was that most people were being told to see our booth from firefighters that bought our illuminating products over the last year.
The Fire Critic (Rhett Fleitz) and The Iron Fireman (Willie Wines) wore their signature matching kilts and leather helmets as they were mobbed by their fans asking for autographs and getting personal demonstrations of how MN8 Foxfire helps firefighters by reducing disorientation, increasing accountability and illuminating search activities.
I was absolutely humbled not only our large crowds and strong sales, but also by hearing the numerous stories about how many firefighters are currently using our products and how much Foxfire has helped them be better and safer firefighters.
We had several very special visitors that first day such as the winner of the MN8 Foxfire FDIC T-Shirt contest, Donnie Wedding and the girls from the greatest bar in the world, PBR Baltimore. They want us to illuminate their shirts and hot pants !!!!
As the first day wrapped up, I changed out of my stuffy jeans and button down shirt and got to break out my new bunker kilt. I could not let Willie and Rhett be the only one to “let it all hang out”. We walked from the convention center to the FOOLS Bash and at Baltimore’s Powerplant Live. We had several people ask to get their picture taken with us. I guess Baltimore is not used to seeing men in kilts and firefighter helmets walking down the street....
The event was awesome complete with cornhole games, a dunk booth with very hot scantly clad women, pipes and drums and a torrential rainstorm. Never the less the firefighters were not about to let it rain on our parade !
The men and women of the Baltimore Fools chapter did a great job and fun was had by all. Especially watching the PBR girls dance on the tables!
The evening would have not been complete without having one of the PBR girls ride the mechanical bull complete with a MN8-Foxfire illuminating helmet !
The next day of the show was the same as the first day with big crowds, brisk sales and an energy unmatched by any other booth. We had several VIP's stop in such as Chief Bashoor of Prince George County FD, Capt. Morris of FDNY's Rescue 1 and even the media mogel himself, Mr. Dave Statter.
I finally had the chance to walk the floor for a few minutes and I had heard that FDNY’s Rescue 2 in Brooklyn had a booth. Visiting their booth was an honor. While there I checked on how all the Foxfire gear was holding up. I was both excited and honored to see FF Rob Weidman shaking hands with everyone.
As I’m sure most of you remember, FF Weidman was critically burned several months ago while battling a very bad fire at a Brooklyn brownstone.
MN8-Foxfire along with the Iron fireman and Fire Critic not only raised money for him, we also presented the check to his captain, Liam Flaherty at their Brooklyn quarters. Meeting with FF Weidman and hearing his heartfelt appreciation was one of the most memorable moments I have had since starting MN8. Our highest calling in the fire service is to help our brothers. These men of FDNY’s Rescue 2 have shown all of us the importance of brotherhood and professionalism that all of us in the fire service should strive to emulate.