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.
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.....
A few weeks ago, I had the the privilege to visit two fire departments in the same week. On the outside they looked very different but the reality is they were both almost identical. I had the chance to spend a 24 hour shift with the men and women of the Detroit Fire Department.
Just a few days later, I had the opportunity to visit the incredible men and women of the Hilton Head Island Fire Department. Although their communities, budgets, apparatus, and gear could not be more different there were a few things that were identical; pride, brotherhood, respect for others, professionalism, and the firefighter tradition of always helping others.
This trip was a little different than most of my other trips, this trip's primary purpose was not to share Foxfire’s advanced photoluminescent technology that helps reduce disorientation and increases accountability but it was rather our annual family vacation to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
I always like to visit local fire departments no matter were I go and this trip was no exception. My 8 year old son Bryce and I were invited to have breakfast, though Facebook, with the great guys of Truck 6 and Firefighter Jeremy Yerkes. Jeremy, in my opinion, has one of the best jobs in the fire-service; Tillerman.
It was more than just breakfast, it was a meal that was so immense I could not eat until that evening. Southern hospitality was on full display with homemade biscuits and gravy, sausage, bacon, hash browns, eggs, etc. I not only felt like I was part of their family but my son Bryce was in heaven, having a warrior’s breakfast and being able to watch Spongebob in a recliner !
I was told by my good friends and brothers Capt. Willie Wines of Iron Firemen Blog and Lt. Rhett Fleitz of The Fire Critic Blog that I needed to visit Battalion Chief Mick Mayers of the Hilton Head Fire Department. Chief Mayer's has a great blog Firefighter Zen and I was particularly impressed with his recent series on "Leadership That Matters." His series talks about several different themes that separate mediocrity from greatness in almost all areas of the fire service.
A few days later, Chief Mayers picked me up from our hotel in his staff car and took me on a tour visiting each of the seven stations on the island. Chief Mayers has been with the Hilton Head Island FD for several decades, he has seen a department and community grow from a small town department to a model department that virtually all of us could learn from. Of all the departments I have visited throughout the US and abroad, Hilton Head Island FD should be the model for the fire service. I learned a lot from Chief Mayers on not just being a better fire leader but also on being a great father, husband and person. Hilton Head Island Fire Department has highly motivated and trained members, state of the art fire apparatus, and top of the line facilities. What is even more impressive is that each apparatus is identically set up. When you see any engine or ladder on the island you know that every compartment has the same tools/equipment in the same place.
Each station is also the same so if you are covering another station you know the flow of the building. The outstanding service of the Hilton Head Island Fire Department has not gone unnoticed, as they recently received a very special honor of becoming one of 148 global fire departments to be internationaly accredited.
One of the greatest prides I have in the fire service is getting to meet such incredible brother firefighters that go so far out of their way to help a stranger. In this particular case, I got to witness a rescue, not the type of rescue we typically see but in this situation the grab was a few baby birds that could not have been more than a few days old. When Chief Moore and I went to the station to see the new visitors, the firefighters had set up a mobile “baby bird intensive care unit” equipped with syringes, catheters full of warm milk, a hot pad, several towels, and even some fresh worms cut up in bite sized pieces.
These rough and tumble firefighters could have just left them in the bucket that they found them in and let mother nature take it’s course but they went above and beyond. They saw something in need and they did what firefighters are supposed to do, they helped.
In honor of Memorial Day, Foxfire Illuminating Helmet Bands are discounted to $19.95 each through Monday, May 28th.
To purchase visit: http://store.mn8foxfire.com/default.asp no promo code required, discount will be applied at checkout.
Track firefighters and increase safety in smoky or dark environments with illuminating/glow-in-the-dark helmet bands.
-Increases visibility and positional orientation
-Can be charged by any light source (sun, artificial light, low light)
-Will illuminate for hours
-May be recharged repeatedly
-Glow/illumination serves as a “light emitter”
-Energy efficient, eco-friendly and no batteries required
-Made of industrial grade high temperature resistant silicone
-Can withstand high temperatures
Three of the biggest risks faced by firefighters are disorientation, visibility and accountability (to both individuals and tools). Foxfire® illuminating helmet bands assist firefighters in facing these risks by improving positional orientation, making personnel easy to locate and illuminating search areas.
Made of industrial grade high temperature resistant silicone, Foxfire illuminating helmet bands were designed specifically to handle the heat and rigors of firefighting. Each helmet band will illuminate for hours. The helmet bands may be charged repeatedly by any type of light condition, however the brighter the light the brighter and longer the bands will illuminate and glow.
ORDER YOURS TODAY
There is no city in the US that has been hit harder over the last decade than Detroit, just don’t let the brave men and women of the Detroit Fire Department find that out. Why ? Because for them it’s just business as usual fighting fires, saving lives and serving the residents of this iconic city. The decline of the domestic auto-manufacturing industry and it’s crippling effect on their local economy was very apparent as I drove past the blocks of vacant homes and commercial structures on my way to Detroit Fire Department Station 40 on Dexter Ave.
They have not let the reduced budgets, declining economy, and politics get in the way of them providing a level of professionalism that all fire departments could learn from. They know it’s not about how hard you get hit, it’s about your ability to take the punch and how fast you can bounce back. The exceptional men and women of the Detroit Fire Department are warriors, they have a job to do and no challenge will stand between them and their mission to serve their residents.
Over the 24 hours, I had the chance to not just visit the brave warriors of DFD but they also let me break bread, fight fire, and spend the night with all of them at their station. Brotherhood, compassion, focus, and love of their job were on full display.
Like many of you, I first learned about the challenges of the Detroit FD from both the news and the soon to be released movie BURN. Please take time to watch the trailer below and donate to the www.detroitfirefilm.org.
I was hosted by Sgt. John Edwards of Squad 5 on this recent trip. I first met Sgt. Edwards at FDIC a few weeks ago. He invited me to spend a day with his crew and that was an offer I could not refuse.
At morning line up, I was introduced to the men of the station and the OIC, Lt. Ziggler (Ziggy, as his guys call him). He started the roll call off with his own unique motivating words about the importance of doing their job and having fun.
We all learned at a young age to never judge a book by its cover. Sometimes, I find myself not following this rule. I was issued my gear and got my side of the truck ready. The men of Detroit have battle-worn gear, old trucks with virtually no “bells and whistles” but they have something much more important; brotherhood, professionalism, and pride. This was on full display when we caught our first structure fire of the day. Within a few minutes of dispatch we traveled several miles in traffic, stretched lines, vented a wall and made a knock on the fire. What was even more impressive was that in less then 15 minutes all four units were back in service. I have never seen a faster, more perfect aggressive attack, overhaul, and return to service . What was even more special to me personally was seeing the excitement of the men as their Foxfire tools and helmet bands illuminated the interior of the house helping them with accountability of each other and their tools.
As we were getting back on our rig, I was introduced to a senior Captain who pulled me aside and said “Don’t let our old gear and trucks fool you, our boys know how to work!” He could not be more spot on. On our ride back to quarters, I thought of our regional departments and how we have state of the art technology, glitzy trucks, and top of the line gear. Regardless, many firefighters I know and even myself sometimes, complain when our gear is not in like-new condition or our trucks don’t function perfectly. We get too wrapped up with our gear and apparatus and forget about the most important item in the fire-service; the firefighter.
I learn something new every time I visit a fire station or other firefighters but this visit was different. This visit taught me one of the greatest lessons I have ever learned as both a firefighter a human. Greatness cannot be measured by tangibles like money, gear, or status. Greatness should be measured by doing your best with what you have.
The MN8 Foxfire caravan pulled into the Indianapolis Convention Center wednesday afternoon. We knew it would be a good show when we already had people waiting to talk to us before we even started unpacking our booth.
Later back at the hotel we met up with our celebrity spokesmen Lt. Rhet Flietz ( www.thefirecritic.com) and Capt. Willie Wines (www.ironfiremen.com)
They were very proud to be showing off their brand new kilts. I could not be left out so one of their friends who made the drive with them, Big Mike, of the Renegade Pipes and Drums offered me a kilt to wear.
We met up with the rest of our crew and headed out to the F.O.O.L.S. outdoor party. It was so great seeing several people in the crowd wearing their Foxfire illuminating t- shirts. Rhett and Willie were mobbed like celebrities, everybody wanted their pictures with them. These two giants in the fire service are the real deal. They don’t know a stranger. Every firefighter they meet is greeted as “hey brother.”
The first day of the show was great! A few of us got to the booth several hours before the start and we already had a constant stream of people. So many people were lined up that some had to come back two and three times just to get a demo. We completely sold out of all of our illuminating tetrahedrons and almost sold all of the FDIC winning T-shirts made by firefighter Donald Wedding on the first day.
Some of the greatest comments of the day were from the firefighters that bought our products last year and were now bringing their fellow firefighters over to show them the “magic” as some people called it.
That night we had a chance for our entire team to unwind at one of my favorite restaurants, Adobo. We rented an entire room and spent the night sharing laughs, dancing to the Mariachi bands, eating table-side made guacamole and drinks, lots of fresh made margaritas.
The next two days were just like the first two, action packed and a constant stream of distributors, firefighters, and others wanting to hang out with the MN8-Foxfire team and to learn more about how our advanced photoluminescent technologies can help increase visibility, reduce disorientation and improve accountability. We even were interviewed by Mike Brooks of CNN Headline News.
The last day, we signed up for our new booth for next years show and after speaking with the person at the conference, she made a comment, “So you guys are the ones we’ve been hearing about that has been so busy that you've been blocking the aisles with all your crowds. Outside of the special visit from the “Swamp People” and the bikini girls we were one of the busiest booths at the show."
When I look back on the show and what we have accomplished since last year, I tried to figure out how we could have gained so much traction so fast and the answer is simple. The reason is something we have talked about many times before. We are taking an innovative technology and making a difference in the safety of our brothers. Every dollar we make goes back into growing our mission of "By firefighters for firefighters." We are not a huge corporation that can spend millions of marketing dollars on big trade-show booths and full page advertisements. We are just a bunch of firefighters trying to look out for each other.
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!