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Fired Up in Indianapolis

FDIC 2008 seeks to provide every tool a firefighter needs.

2007 was a tough year for American firefighters, and not only because nine South Carolina comrades died while fighting a fire in June. Preliminary data from the U.S. Fire Administration shows there were 115 on-duty firefighter deaths in the United States during the year, up from 106 the previous year. Although slightly down from 51 percent of the total in 2006 to 47 percent in 2007, heart attacks and strokes continued to be the leading cause, with 54 deaths.

When the data were released, U.S. Fire Administrator Greg Cade said 2007 would be "remembered by the entire fire service as one of the most tragic years for firefighters in recent memory." He then reaffirmed the agency's commitment, along with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, National Volunteer Fire Council, International Association of Firefighters, and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, to ensure 2008 is not a repeat of 2007. With the same goal in mind, manufacturers, firefighters, and numerous associations and organizations are meeting this month at the FDIC 2008 Fire Department Instructors Conference, which will take place at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis (April 7-12).

Billed as the world's largest firefighter training conference and exhibition, the event's 340,000-square-foot expo has 38 outside demos scheduled this year and every kind of product, from ambulances and pumpers to PASS devices, and wheel covers. Some 28,000 firefighters are expected to attend.

Hands-on Training
This nearly 80-year-old, annual event is set to draw more than 28,000 firefighters and 200+ industry leaders, and it will host live demonstrations and more than 150 classroom instruction sessions. More than 50 Hands-On Training (H.O.T.) evolutions and workshops are planned all day April 7-8. The four-hour evolutions offered cover a wide range of practical instruction, such as vehicle stabilization techniques, proper use of a 100-foot-plus drill tower, using a thermal imaging camera under live fire conditions, getting the most out of self-rescue products, training strategies for fixed burn building instruction, and more. The eight-hour H.O.T. workshops will offer several sessions for every level of firefighter, whether they are basic, intermediate, or advanced. A waiver form for H.O.T. participations is online at http://fdic08.events.pennnet.com/fl//; participants should bring it with them to the conference if they did not mail it in by March 31.

Basic-level firefighters can choose to receive instruction in the roles and responsibilities of the health and safety officer or learn strategies for firefighting in multiple dwellings; intermediate-level firefighters can choose to attend sessions on aerial apparatus devices--such as rear mounts, tractor-drawn aerials, platforms, and quints--or learn strategies for firefighting in multiple dwellings. Advanced-level firefighters can learn to face the challenge of high-rise buildings or study the intricate properties and characteristics of different kinds of smoke.

Honor and Valor
This year's Opening Ceremony and General Session, being held April 9 and 10 from 8:30 to 10 a.m., promises to be a moving and motivational experience. A tribute will be held for fallen firefighters, and awards will be presented to recognize the contributions of living firefighters.

The awards presentation includes the "Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award," so named by the Fire Engineering Courage and Valor Foundation to honor the memory of FDNY Fire Chief Ray Down, a 39-year veteran who lost his life during rescue operations at the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks. Also presented will be Fire Engineering's "Lifetime Achievement Award," to be followed by a look at previous winners, and the "Tom Brennan Training Achievement Award."

With thousands in attendance, there's no better chance for fire department personnel to display their honor and pride than at the Annual National Fire Department Honor Guard Competition, which will take place in the Sagamore Ballroom 3-4-5 on April 12 at 8 p.m. Competing teams will have a chance to display their station flags in a drill displaying etiquette and military precision during the presentation of colors. The competition is graded using the demerit accounting system as judges look for uniformity, neatness, cleanliness, and military bearing. After posting their colors, teams will regroup to demonstrate flag folding and presentation.

Someone Will Get a Ticket to Ride
Attendees will have extra incentive to walk the expo floor this year as they fill their stamp card for a chance to win in the Harley-Davidson Giveaway. To win a 2007 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, participants must get their entry cards stamped at participating sponsors' booths and turn them in before the random drawing on April 12.

Expo hours at the conference are:
• April 10, 2 p.m.-6:30 p.m.
• April 11, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
• April 12, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Upstairs exhibits will close at noon April 12.

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