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April 10, 2014, Indianapolis – It’s remarkable how many Canadians are here in Indianapolis for the Fire Department Instructors Course (FDIC).

April 10, 2014 
By Laura King

April 10, 2014, Indianapolis – It’s remarkable how many Canadians are here in Indianapolis for the Fire Department Instructors Course (FDIC).

You would think that in a sea of 30,000-plus firefighters the chances of running into people from home (home being St. John’s to Victoria!) would be slim. Not the case.

Fire Fighting in Canada sales manager Catherine Connolly and I started our trip to FDIC at 4:45 a.m. yesterday – a rather rude awakening – for an early Toronto-Detroit-Indy flight. If you follow us on Twitter (@fireincanada and @fficcat) you’d know that we were slightly delayed in Detroit – which was a good thing given that we otherwise would have had to sprint the length of the massive airport to get to Gate 78 (the last gate in the longest airport hallway in America, or so it seemed) but instead had time to enjoy extra doses of desperately needed caffeine before the 11:15 a.m. hop to Indy.

While we were waiting (what seemed like several hours) for our rooms to be ready at the jam-packed Indianapolis Westin – conveniently across S. Capital Avenue from the Convention Centre, the heart of FDIC (if you’ve ever been stuck in a hotel out by the airport during FDIC you know how important this location is!) – we went around the corner for refreshments and met extrication writer Randy Schmitz, who is here teaching and promoting his Schmitz Mittz – the extrication and industrial gloves that Randy designed – at the trade show. Interesting tidbit: Although the key markets for Schmitz Mittz are the oil industry and extrication, during the June floods in Calgary, Randy donated Schmitz Mittz to rescuers who were rounding up lost and stray animals displaced by the torrents. Randy is modest and hadn’t publicized this; I couldn’t resist!

Canadians are well represented at FDIC in Indianapolis. Photo by Laura King.

We spent more time with Randy and his partners Rob Stevenson – a 37-year fire-service veteran from Calgary – and FDIC rookie Andrew Madarasz last evening at an event at the ultra-popular networking spot, the Claddagh Irish Pub, where the Canadian fire service was more than well represented: Burlington, Ont., firefighter Ken (Bammer) Niclieu from TERC Canada – another FDIC rookie – had taught an extrication course earlier in the week and was taking in the FOOLS Bash next door – a street party for members and guest of the Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society (Google it!); Chad Sartison, chair of Firefighters 1st and a captain with Foothills Fire in Alberta, had presented a session on the floods Wednesday afternoon; I had a lengthy conversation with a couple of Ontarians about the new standardized candidate testing service; we ran into several folks with the Ontario Association of Fire Training Officers – John Uptegrove with Puslinch Fire Rescue, Jim Allen with Central York, Claude Duval with Vaughan – at the association’s annual Indy get together at the interestingly named Slippery Noodle pub; we met members of the Toronto Fire Service Pipes and Drums who had participated in the FOOLS Bash and have the honour of playing solo tonight at the annual Stop, Drop, Rock ‘n’ Roll fundraiser at the historic Indiana Roof Ballroom, and who, with members of other pipe and drum bands, led a procession down Meridian Street to the OAFTO gathering.

I ran into three fellow Bluenosers – FDIC Atlantic vice-president Stephen Fenner, Nova Scotia Firefighters School executive director John Cunningham and Jason MacLeod – on the way back to the hotel. They were heading to the FOOLS Bash to meet with FFIC contributor Ryan Pennington, who we will see today at the FoxFury booth at the trade show.

Firefighters in Indianapolis take in the annual FOOLS Bash – an evening of entertainment and camaraderie. FOOLS raises money for several causes and promotes firefighter training. Photo by Catherine Connolly.

We also ran into Fire Chief Steve Kraft of Richmond Hill, Ont., who presented his Be a Leader, Not Just a Position seminar earlier in the week. Kraft was pleased, he said, that after a break at 4 p.m. all participants returned for the last hour of the course – a ringing endorsement at FDIC where badge bar codes are recorded when delegates enter the classroom but not when they leave!

Earlier in the day we met Rod Soucie with Stanley Boats, a division of Connor Industries out of Parry Sound, Ont., who is also exhibiting at the trade show, which opens this afternoon.

The trade show, as many readers know, is massive. So big, in fact, we have created a spreadsheet so we know which booths we’re to visit at which times. It sounds ridiculous, but getting from point A to point B – especially if one is in the Convention Centre and the other is in the nearby and gargantuan Lucas Oil Stadium – is a feat not for the faint of heart. We have clients to see and tweet about, new products to view and writers to visit.

This evening is Stop, Drop, Rock ‘n’ Roll (on which our Canadian version – Ladders Up – is modeled) and WFR’s Canada Night reception.

Watch us on Twitter and try to keep up!

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