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!
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.
We’re packed and headed out today for the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis. We’ve got our blackout tent ready (so people can see the illumination from our products in the dark), we’ve got firefighters who have used the products ready to demonstrate and talk about them and we’ve got lots of products available for purchase. We’ll also be announcing the winner of our T-shirt design contest, talking about our Boots on the Street program, sharing news about some collaborations we’ll being telling you about soon and talking about our upcoming products. If you’re going, be sure to visit us at the MN8-Foxfire Booth #3026 of the Indiana Convention Center to learn more about how Foxfire illuminating products help firefighters reduce disorientation, improve accountability and increase visibility.
You might even find a couple of “celebrities” hanging around our booth.
That’s right, Lt. Rhett Fleitz of the Fire Critic blog (FireCritic.com) and Captain Willie Wines Jr. of the Wooden Ladders and Iron Firemen blog (IronFiremen.com) will be spending time at our booth when they’re not signing autographs or posing for photos.
Seriously, our entire MN8-Foxfire team has the highest respect for Rhett and Willie. They are truly good friends and great supporters of fellow firefighters and the firefighting industry. I’ve been greatly touched that they’ve become huge fans of Foxfire products and supporters of our goals of keeping our fellow firefighters safe.
It seems like we’ve been friends for a very long time. But it’s only been a year. In fact, our friendship began a year ago-at FDIC. Today, I’d like to share that story with you.
We stalked Rhett. Well, sort of. Here’s what happened: Sometime before FDIC, we’d contacted Rhett about doing a product review of our Foxfire illuminating helmet band. Keep in mind that MN8-Foxfire had just been launched months before last year’s FDIC and at that time our only products were the Foxfire illuminating helmet band and the Foxfire illuminating do-it-yourself coating kit. About a week before FDIC, Rhett published his review of the helmet bands and it was published on his blog.
His review was very positive, you can read it here
After arriving in Indianapolis, the night before FDIC began we decided to find Rhett. As you probably know, he’s big into social media. So Amy, who heads up marketing and public relations for MN8-Foxfire and I started tracking Rhett’s whereabouts via Twitter and Foursquare. When he checked into a downtown Indianapolis BBQ restaurant, I headed over to meet him and thank him for his recent review. Sure enough, I found him along with Captain Willie and Dave Statter (statter911.com), another firefighter industry blogger. And the friendships began.
In the year since FDIC 2011, Rhett, Willie and I have spent a lot of time together. When we unexpectedly didn’t have enough staffing at last year’s Firehouse Expo in Baltimore, Willie lent a hand and helped work at the MN8-Foxfire booth. With his credibility and reputation in the fire industry, it was an honor to have him work with us. Willie also helped us “work the booth” at Fire Rescue International in Atlanta last year. Rhett was also at both of these shows, talking up our products in between his Fire Critic gigs.
I guess we help each other out. When Willie and Rhett called me last year asking if MN8-Foxfire would be willing to donate helmet bands to the climbers of a 9/11 stair climb they were participating in, we immediately agreed, creating some specially designed helmet bands specifically for that event.
During the past year, Willie, Rhett and I also did some traveling together, heading to New York City twice, and visiting numerous fire stations while we were there. On our last New York Trip, we teamed up to establish a joint fundraiser to raise money for two injured firefighters from FDNY Rescue 2, a station we’d visited on our first trip.
Rhett and Willie also visited the MN8-Foxfire headquarters in Cincinnati a couple of times during the past year. On one of these visits the three of us trained in a flashover simulator in our turnout gear, along with catching a Cincinnati vs. W. Virginia football game together.
In just one year, we’ve shared too many experiences and fun times to share in just one blog post. Bottom line is that these are really great “brothers” and two men I’m honored to call good friends. If you haven’t met them before, I hope you get the chance talk with them at FDIC or some other time in the future, because they all around great guys who are worth getting to know. If you have any experiences you’d like to share about Rhett and Willie, we’d love to hear those too!
I have the honor to visit fire department from all over the US and I can honestly say that it is such a privilege to meet brothers from all over our nation. No matter where I go and who I meet, I still get excited every time I walk in to a new station.
This recent trip brought me back to New York city. I was joined by my dear friends and brothers Willie Wines of http://ironfiremen.com/ and Rhet Fleitz of http://firecritic.com/. On our last visit we had the chance to visit with many of the rescue companies and spent quite a bit of time with the warriors of Rescue 2, led by Capt. Liam Flaherty.
Capt. Flaherty is the youngest rescue captain in the history of the FDNY and one of my personal heroes. We met almost a year ago at Firehouse World in San Diego. He offered to have his elite men of Rescue 2 in Brooklyn evaluate our advanced photo-luminescent products. We all were horrified to see the video of the flash-over a few weeks ago in Brooklyn in which FF’s Gersbeck and Weidman (pictured below)were injured in a flashover at a brownstone fire in Brooklyn.
At MN8-Foxfire our highest calling and most important goal is for us to help our firefighting brothers all over the world. Why? Because we are all brothers. Volunteer, paid on call, full time, union, etc. it doesn’t matter. When one of us hurts, we all hurt. When one of us fall we all stumble. Fire does not differentiate between black or white, volley or full time, big city or small.
We are honored to donate to various firefighter causes throughout the year not because we are asked but because it is the right thing to do. After all, we are our brothers keeper. We could not visit our friends and brothers of Rescue 2 on this trip and not do something for the brave warriors who weree injured. Willie, Rhett, and I, along with many other leaders in the firefighter community like Statter 911, and Firefighter Nation helped promote this opportunity to help both the injured firefighters and their families. We received donations from all over the country, MN8-Foxfire donated 50% of all of our sales that week.
On Tuesday, we had the privilage to join the brave men of Rescue 2 at the their house and present them with a check for over $2,300. Capt. Flaherty and his men could not have been more gracious and appreciative. They wanted us to pass on their heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all of you that supported their crew with thoughts, prayers and donations. They brewed a fresh pot of coffee for us and even took us on a very special tour of the 6 day old brand new Ferra Rescue truck.
To be continued....
The 2011 Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis last week was a huge success. My travel to Indy Tuesday night had me on a mission to meet the infamous Fire Critic blogger. Thanks to the power of Twitter and Foursquare I was on the hunt to locate the Fire Critic to introduce myself and thank him for his feedback from his recent review on our helmet bands: http://firecritic.com/2011/03/product-review-foxfire-illuminated-firefighter-helmet-bands/
Well, I found the Fire Critic (Rhett Fleitz) along with fellow bloggers Willie Wines Jr. ( http://ironfiremen.com/ ) and Dave Statter ( statter911.com ) where you would expect to find any self-respecting Virginian to be, at one of Indy's only BBQ joints. We swapped stories about firefighting and where to find the best beer in Indianapolis. The evening wrapped up at a brew-house where I introduced the three bloggers to a website that rates their websites. The rest of the evening was occupied with the three Internet moguls teasing each other over who had the highest rated website.
Wedesday morning started out bright and early as I prepared for my interview with the attractive Kjersten Ramsing of Fox59. Willie and Rhett also showed up to make sure that Kjersten would not be left in a dark room with me by myself. See link: ( http://www.fox59.com/news/wxin-firefighters-convention-comes-to-indianapolis-20110324,0,7662001.story ) The interview went great and they got some great video of our products.
Next, it was off to the convention center to start setting up the booth. After setting up the booth, Foxfire was featured in the second newscast of the day, with Indy ABC 6's Julie Pursley. Here's a recap of that story: http://www.theindychannel.com/news/27293757/detail.html
Later that evening, I had dinner with Nick Caliguri, a fellow firefighter from the Cincinnati area who has developed the best product I have seen in a long time to replace the door wedge www.fativan.com It was a great meal at my favorite Indianapolis restaurant, Adobo that included fresh guacamole, ceviche, a bacon-fig-vanilla specially tequila and lots of fresh margaritas. The evening finished up at Indy's great cigar lounge Nicky Blaines with some nice cigars and more discussion about firefighting entrepreneurship.
Thursday morning Team Foxfire arrived and the show started with a bang. Our 10x20 booth was one of the most crowded booths at the entire show. We were slammed from an hour before the show started until one hour after closing. We were deeply humbled by both the volume of people and the positive feedback on how our products are transforming firefighting. Some of the highlights of day one were being interviewed on the Firefighter Netcast http://ironfiremen.com/2011/03/statter-naked-tons-of-pics-and-more-from-fdic/ and having our neighbor booths thank us for having our crowds so big that they spilled in to their booths. Team Foxfire finished the evening back at Adobo's for more fresh guacamole and incredible food/ libations.
Friday morning started out the same as Saturday - busy, busy, busy. We had the chance to talk to some of the biggest distributors in our industry and let's just say you will soon be able to find Foxfire at most of the major firefighting retailers. The crowds were so large that we actually ran out of brochures and had to order more to be delivered Saturday. Towards the end of the day I was starting to get dizzy from all the excitement when I realized that I’d forgotten to eat both breakfast and lunch (quite a feat if you know me). The day ended up with a great bottle of champagne, shrimp cocktail and the largest steak I have ever seen at Indy's famous St. Elmo's.
Saturday’s traffic was just as busy as the pervious days, none of us had the chance to actually visit the other booths but the feedback we received was that we had one of the largest and most consistent crowds of the show http://firecritic.com/2011/03/fdic-recap-part-i-networking-and-the-9-11-memorial-stair-climb/.
In preparing for the show, we brought three times the amount of brochures and products to sell than we thought we’d ever need. Turns out, we gave out all the brochures (plus the extra we had fedex'd) and sold out of just about all of our products! We knew FDIC would be the biggest show of the year but I don't think any of us would have ever dreamed an idea that was hatched a year ago at this 2010 FDIC show would have ever ended up as such an illuminating success!