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!
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.
Tuesday started bright in early as we rushed to the Baltimore Convention Center to get an early start to set our booth up for the Firehouse Expo. I was even able to back up our trailer on the first try to within an inch of our designated booth space!
After getting everything set up, we were off to drive back to Washington DC. We happened across a Baltimore City Fire Department and decided to stop in for a quick visit . We were greeted with open arms and even given a very special tour of the historic house. The firefighters gave us a chance to climb six sets of ladders that made up their old hose closet.
We climbed in darkness to the top of the six plus stories and the firefighter that was giving us the tour was very impressed in how the Foxfire t-shirts photoluminescence illuminated the way. Once at the top we had a scenic view above all the neighborhood’s buildings.
From there we were off to Kentland Volunteer Station 33. These guys are not only the gold standard of volunteer fire departments they are leaders in the way we should fight fire.
Hard, fast, aggressive and take no prisoners. We were met by Tim McClusky of Firehouse Pride.
Like Foxfire, Firehouse Pride is by firefighter’s for firefighters. It was started by DCFD FF Joe Brown who we visted next at his DCFD Truck 17. Joe, like myself, is an entrepreneur but he will always be a firefighter first !
From there it was back to Washington DC, Arlington VA to be more specific, to pay our respects to our fallen heroes. I can never make it to Arlington National Cemetery without a visit next door to the statue of the flag raising of Iwo Jima, the Marine War Memorial. This would be no regular visit to this iconic statue because that night was very special because it was also the sunset parade of the 8th & I Silent Drill Team and Drum and Bugle Corps.
As I watched this special event, I was reminded what a privilege it is to be a American but I’m even more privileged to be a US Marine.
See some footage of the parade here.
Prior to the start of the event, we decided to take a very special and somber walk through the endless rows of white markers of the valiant warriors that stood watch over our great nation. It was so humbling to walk among these heroes from the Civil War to current conflicts. As we walked and walked, I remembered the lyric of one of my favorite CSN & Y songs “Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down.”
The next day we had the chance to visit my brother Adam on Bolling Air Force base. Adam is a member of the elite US Air Force Concert Band. Adam introduced us the federal firefighters of Naval District Washington. We passed out a few helmet bands and discussed our recent big deal with the US Air Force Kirtland AZ Fire Department.
We then drove a few miles away to visit with the elite men of DCFD’s Rescue 3 and specifically FF Oleg Pelekahpy. Oleg is one of the great firefighters that understands the importance of giving back. Read the Ironfireman’s blog about the coast to coast and back motorcycle ride he did to raise money and awareness for ovarian cancer.
Our last stop of the day was to Hyattsville Fire Department in Maryland. Specifically we met with Nick Baily who is one of the founders of FdLiveIn.com. Their station is a model of both brotherhood and how to encourage volunteers to spend time on station. They have impressive apparatus and a great house that is what all fire stations should be complete with a pole, dog, and a great day room.
We finally hit the road to Baltimore and checked in to the hotel. All that was next was the arrival of Boots on the Street rockstar Stephen Allen and Rhett Fleitz and Willie Wines....
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!
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:
It’s tough sometimes being on the road so much but one of the fringe benefits of travel is that every now and then you get the opportunity to visit interesting and beautiful destinations. I’m a huge fun of the outdoors and always like to take some time to soak in the beauty of Mother Nature.
We had a few hours before the show opened and before I started another day of showing firefighters how MN8-Foxfire's products help firefighters reduce disorientation, increase accountability and help illuminate search areas, I awoke very early and borrowed Troy’s car so I could drive north. I was headed to Vancounver's famous Sea to Sky highway. The highway takes you along the Pacific ocean and incredible mountain peaks and waterfalls as you pass through the Squamish region and Whistler Ski Resort.
I was absolutely in awe of the views of Vancouver bay with the lush evergreens that grow right to the edge of the ocean and the snow capped mountains in the distance. There were waterfalls all over and incredible rock formations. I even had the chance to walk the trail to the famous Shannon Falls were I forged in to the water and drank from the freshly melted glacier stream.
As I continued to head north, I saw several signs warning of bears. I’ve never seen a bear in the wild and in my wildest imagination I would never expect to see one during a leisurely morning drive. Within 5 minutes of seeing the sign, I saw a black object cross the road and before my mind could register what my eyes just witnessed, I realized it was a small black bear. Fifteen minutes later, I saw a very cute baby brown bear. A few minutes after that I saw a very good sized black bear foraging off the side of the shoulder. Putting aside logic and common sense I pulled the car of the side of the road and snuck up within 50 feet of him was able to get him to pose for the camera. Probably not the smartest idea but I have never been the one to let logic get in the way of a good story....
That night on the news I saw the following story: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/Bear+shot+killed+after+attacking+Whistler/6732351/story.htmlabout a black bear that attacked a man in his hot tub just a few miles from where I saw this guy....
As I was heading back to the Vancouver, I took a detour to the world eagle capital of Brackendale. During the annual salmon runs the Bald Eagles swarm the town in the thousands. Even though the bald eagles aren't around at this time on the year, I couldn't resist the opportunity to try an see one of these majestic creatures.
I walked along the scenic trail that over looks the eagle area and after 20 minutes of looking I returned to my car seeing nothing other than some very scenic vistas. Driving back to the highway my thoughts drifted to home and the incredible history of our national symbol, the Bald Eagle.
These raptors are physical manifestations of our symbols of freedom, leadership, resilience, and the strength of our United States. Just then, something large a fast appeared from high in the sky. I was absolutely awestruck when from the top of a large tree swooped down a huge bald eagle right over the top of my car. My trip was now complete and I am forever grateful for our good friends from the north that gave me the opportunity to see my first Bald Eagle in the wild.
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.....