By Laura King
April 20, 2012, Indianapolis - You’d think that being stateside with 30,000 or so fire personnel from all over North America that you would be unlikely to run into people from say, Burlington, Ont., or, King Township, neighbours to the west and northeast of where I’m based in Oakville, Ont.
Not the case. Two steps in any direction inside or outside the massive Indiana Conference Centre is guaranteed to put any Canadian face to face with Canucks from fire departments from Grand Falls-Windsor, N.L., to Salt Spring Island, B.C.
Standing outside last evening in the downtown core, enjoying the fabulous weather and good company, it was a bit ironic – but also inspiring – to look around and see faces from Newfoundland, Ontario, Nova Scotia, B.C. and Alberta, including FFIC writers/columnists, and firefighters who will be featured in an upcoming story on recruitment and retention.
Many in our group had popped into the Stop, Drop, Rock ‘n Roll event in support of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to check out the process in advance of our own Ladders Up for the Foundation, a fundraiser for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Foundation,, on May 5 in Toronto. While we won’t have Billy Goldfeder as the auctioneer, we do promise a fabulous evening of entertainment and networking for a good cause! Check it out at www.laddersup.ca and bid online before the May 1 deadline.
Richmond Hill, Ont., Fire Chief Steve Kraft was still beaming from Wednesday’s keynote address here in Indy when I ran into him Thursday morning in the hallway at the convention centre.
“It wasn’t that I was nervous for me,” he said of the opening session in a jam-packed convention hall. “I was nervous because I was representing all of Canada.”
True enough. But no worries – Steve is a tough act to follow and set the bar high with his Be a Leader, Not just the Position, presentation.
Not everyone here is calling him Krafty yet, but we’re working on it . . .
Feedback was equally positive for extrication guru Randy Shmitz’s presentation on new-vehicle technology on Wednesday, and Mark van der Feyst’s session on profiling for rescue. Both programs were interactive, with lots of engaged participants, and both Fire Fighting in Canada/ Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly columnists did us proud!
The trade show is hopping today, and although the consensus is that there may be fewer new products and less new technology given the American economy and a reduction in grant money, there’s a palpable buzz around the exhibit floor and manufacturers/vendors seem delighted with the turnout.
Bruce Whitehouse, with Whiting Equipment Canada Inc. (Amdor), who sits on the Canadian Governmental Committee of FEMA/FEMSA, said the pace is steady and trade-show goers are engaged. Let’s hope the upcoming Canadian shows are well attended!
It was nice to meet Jen Evans today just before an entertaining session on problems in volunteer departments. Jen is a captain and training officer in Redwood Meadows, Alta., just outside Calgary. Her other half, (newly named) Fire Chief Rob Evans, is our newest blogger, an occasional writer for FFIC and our go-to photographer.
Jen has been on the department for 19 years. When she started there was some opposition to having a female on board. The conversation in the session started when Chief Tim Holman from German Township, Ohio, asked participants to name problems in their departments, and gender was among the first listed. There were three female firefighters at the front of the room, all of whom agreed that there’s still a gender bias in the fire service. As an outsider who looks in, and with the need for strong leadership and new skills, it’s mindboggling that gender still comes up in these discussions. From my perspective, the problem isn’t female firefighters, rather it’s male firefighters who have a problem with female firefighters. Gender issues? You bet.
There were some great points in that session about attitude and behaviour but we’ll save that for a magazine piece.
The trade show wraps up tomorrow. Hopefully by that time I’ll have made my way to the Lucas Oil stadium – always an impressive site with aerials and myriad apparatuses.
Meantime, more networking.