It was only fitting the the Firehouse Expo was held in Baltimore during the hottest day on record. 106 degrees with a heat index in the 120’s. With all the time spent at the booth and talking to people about Foxfire’s advanced photoluminescent illuminating technology at trade-shows, I never have the opportunity to attend the various show’s live fire training classes. However, this show made me feel like I had taken part in live fire training because walking to the hotel with a 120 heat index sure felt like I was taking part in a live burn!
During set up I met up with my good friends Rhett Fleitz www.firecritic.com , Willie Wines http://ironfiremen.com/ and my new friend Kevin Totten of the Salem FD.
We had plans to attend a nice relaxing dinner until we found out about my new favorite pastime, bikini bull-riding. PBR (Professional Bull Riding) has a cowboy themed bar and let’s just say this place was designed for firefighters like us!!! The bar is located in an area called Baltimore Live. It’s several street blocks cordoned off with outdoor stages and bars. This place had the red carpet rolled out for firefighters and could not have been more welcoming to all of us that had called Baltimore home for the next few days. Willie was a hit at PBR with his 10 gallon cowboy hat and Yosemite Sam mustache. It seemed like we had a crowd of the girls that worked at the PBR surrounding us all night. Being the gentlemen we firefighters are, we graciously invited them to stop by and see us the following day at the expo.
The expo started the next day and the Foxfire-MN8 booth was slammed. I had a very special guest helper on the first day of the show, my younger brother Adam. It was so great to share the pride of helping heroes be better heroes with my brother Adam. The excitement in seeing him “work the crowd” brought a tear to my eye as I thought about how proud our late grandfather would have been seeing both of us follow in his footsteps. Our grandfather spent many days on the road at trade shows as he built his business in to a very successful enterprise. It was always my dream to follow in his footsteps. He passed away last year at 96 years old and I think of him often when I’m away from my family building this business.
We had a great crowd from start to finish every day. What was so impressive was all the people that had already heard about us and our products that help increase visibility, improve the accountability of tools and personnel, and reduce disorientation. Several people that had seen us at FDIC and Harrisburg were bringing their colleagues over to experience our illuminating technology first-hand in our black-out tent. We also were humbled by the numerous stories that firefighters shared with us that had used our products over the last several months. One of the best guests to our booth were several of the cowgirls we met the previous night at PBR!
The next day I was honored to have the Iron Fireman himself, Capt. Willie Wines lend me a hand by working the MN8-Foxfire booth. This man has a warrior’s heart and would do anything for his fellow dragon slayers. His credibility and reputation in the fire industry are above reproach and I was deeply touched to hear him talk with pride how Foxfire’s products have helped him and his crew increase positional orientation and accountability. He did a great job helping in the booth and I certainly hope to have his assistance at future shows. That night Rhett, Willie & I had the chance to enjoy some great steak and watch Willie drink his first ever glass of champagne.
The last day of the show saw even bigger crowd and incredible sales. It seems no matter how many brochures and products we bring we always run out. We had a special guest helping in the booth on the last day. It was no other than one of our favorite cowgirls from PBR. She was a quick learn and for some reason more of the firefighters enjoyed going in to the black-out tent we her rather than Willie and I...
Overall the show was a great success. The buzz is growing by leaps and bounds. We are in the middle of negotiations with some of this nation’s largest and most legendary departments. I don’t think any of us expected that this journey would take off this fast, but we are prepared to meet the rush. We could not be more excited to illuminate the firefighting industry !
Foxfire took its illuminating show out to the West coast. The land of perpetual sunshine, movie stars, beaches, babes, and this thing called most of us urban firefighters are unfamiliar with, wildfires. One of the parts of this job I love so much is not just meeting brothers in the fire industry but also learning new techniques and tactics in how they fight fire. Fire comes in many forms and based on the culture, location, budget, and attitude of your department, there is an infinite number of ways to combat the dragon. I started my trip in Anaheim, CA, home of the famous mouse and a sprawling industrial community. I had the privilege to join the men of Anaheim Fire Department’s Engine Company 4.
I spent quite a bit of time picking the brain of my host, Capt. Tim Adams. Capt. Adams is somewhat of a legend in the southern California area. He is the real deal and he “gets it.” He knows that the best leaders are not about how many bugles they have on the collar but rather are the ones who develop and educate those around them. Capt. Adam’s has both first hand experience and a deep scientific understanding of how to teach others how take the fight both safely and tactically to fire operations. Capt. Adams started a fire training company called Advanced Fire Control www.advancedfirecontrol.com. You will be hearing a lot more from Capt. Adams in the future as we are planning on creating a new curriculum around utilizing advanced photoluminescent technology in firefighting operations.
After making a few runs with the Mighty 4’s I was off to the O.C. For any of you that have heard about Orange County, it is not just their women that are impressive. In the 100s of Fire Departments I have visited, I have never seen such an impressive display of wealth and investment in a fire department. From the Hollywood back-lot inspired strip mall training village to the art museum quality firefighter tribute statue, I was stunned with this awe-inspiring facility and its professional firefighters.
The next day I met up with the Southern California’s Foxfire rep, Dave Hudson aka Woody. Woody has been working with photoluminescence in firefighting operations for over 7 years. Woody is well known and respected in the Southern California area and has been essential in helping educate his fellow firefighters on how these innovative products can increase visibility, assist accountability of personnel and tools, and increase positional orientation. We had the chance to present at the S.A.F.E.R. meeting. S.A.F.E.R. http://www.safer.org/ is a fantastic organization (Woody’s firefighter dad is a board member) of southern California fire departments that share technologies and best practices in fighting all kinds of dangerous incidents. I had the privilege to see how they were taking some of the military’s high tech approaches to fighting wildfires. They demonstrated the new Mobile Modular Tactical Command Kits. This is a fascinating way to increase communication by networking GPS, Google maps, voice, data, audio, and visual attributes to set up mobile command centers in minutes if and when a major Haz-Mat or wildfire incident arises.
The afternoon was spent with one of my new friends Scott Estrada of Fire Etc. http://www.fire-etc.com/ , California’s new Authorized Distributor of Foxfire.
We had the chance to share Foxfire’s illumination technology with the ubiquitous and legendary CalFire.
Scott is one of those remarkable people that words like hero don’t even touch the character of this man. Scott was the youngest Captain ever promoted in CalFire. I say was because even though Scott is young, his career was cut short by a danger much more lethal than fire, cancer. Scott never smoked or chewed but as he was quickly climbing through the ranks of the nations second largest fire departments, he found out that he had esophageal cancer as the result of this dangerous line of work. Before his injuries from this horrible disease forced him to leave, he made it his mission to tell as many firefighters as possible about the dangers of not wearing your SCBA. He now works for a well respected Southern california fire equipment distributor so he still has the chance to influence both young and veteran firefighters about the risk we face with cancer. I am continually humbled by the people I meet in this industry. A true hero is someone who puts the benefit of others above the comfort and safety of themselves. MN8 is privileged to help the heroes of the firefighting industry be better heroes by helping mitigate some the risks of this dangerous profession.