MN8 Foxfire had another opportunity to visit our firefighting brothers up north. I was hosted again by my fellow firefighter and good friend Troy Munch of our largest Canadian distributor, Commercial Solutions at the Fire Chiefs Association of British Columbia. It was hosted in the beautiful city of Vancouver, British Columbia. The show was held at the incredible facility built for the speed skating portion of the 2010 Winter Olympics. This place was not only a architectural masterpiece but it also has a indoor climbing wall, several ice rinks, basketball courts, weight room, gymnastics, volleyball, and even a ping pong facility.
Even though the show was somewhat small, sales were outstanding. Every chief that saw our products in the blackout tent were very impressed with our advanced photoluminescent technology and it's ability to reduce disorientation, increase accountability of tools and personnel, and illuminate search sectors. What was even more impressive then our positive comments and strong sales were how many people had not only heard of our products but have already been using Foxfire. It really hit me on what an impact we are making in every corner of the fire service when several Foxfire users from some of the most remote locations of northern Canada told us what a positive additional our products were to their tools and personnel.
As with this trip and all other trips, I wanted to make sure it was not all about work so I had to take in some sight seeing. Troy was very gracious host and offered to show me around downtown Vancouver during a lull in the show. We had a great meal of Vancouver's famous fish and chips overlooking the bay.
He took me to Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park. This massive park overlooks the bay of Vancouver and has some incredible views and sights. I had the chance to see actual totem poles and some of the largest cedar trees I have ever seen. I even had the chance to watch a game of Cricket being played in the park.
When I was in the US Marine Corps I had the chance to work in artillery and I have always been fascinated with cannons. I was in for a real treat when I got to see the famous Nine O'clock Gun. The Nine O'clock Gun is an antique cannon that is still fired every day at 9:00 PM. The cannon used to be out in the open so people could actually touch it and climb on it. Several years ago, a few vandals put some metal springs and items in the cannon shortly prior to it being fired. When it was fired, the shrapnel sailed across the bay and slammed in to the hotel on the other side of the bay. Ever since then, the cannon is now safely secured behind a steel cage....
That night Troy invited all of us to a team dinner at his favorite lesbian Mexican restaurant. The night was filled with mojitos, incredible Mexican cuisine, and quite a few good natured comments to the very attractive female partner/owners about how much us obnoxious firefighters were all in love with them. As the night wound down, we even got to visit with some friendly Vancouver Police officers on our stumble back to the car.....
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.