One year ago I attended my first ever FDIC. Well my first ever fire conference actually. Our site had only a few thousand members but it was growing rapidly so my husband and I decided we needed to see what more of the fire industry was thinking about what we were doing to support marriages and encourage fire wives.
I was quite apprehensive as in the past FDIC meant to me that hubby got to go away for a week with the guys, eat steak dinners and have access to armies of fire groupies who followed them everywhere (I made that last part up in my head.) FDIC 2013 blew my mind. The sheer size. The people who recognized me just walking around and wanting to stop for photos and tell us to keep up the good work. But mostly the heart. Good people make up the fire service. Of course, we know that in our own backyards but sometimes we can be tainted by the few bad apples. Looking people in the eye and hearing the passion of their heart is so very powerful. We left FDIC 2013 having met some of the most wonderful people and were behind what we are doing here at Firefighter Wife more than ever (Read last year’s wrap up post “No Glitter, All Heart“)
One year later, at FDIC 2014, the very people we met for the first time in 2013, we were embracing like lifelong friends. Let me attempt to show you in this blog post what we experienced in person.
For those who don’t know 3 nearly full days of FDIC are the most gigantic expo floor you may ever see in your life. All of the Indiana Convention Center, Lucas Oil Field and places in between. Get your walking shoes on and be ready to see every single thing imaginable in the fire service.
And we must start with this. Can we tell you again how much we LOVE MN8 Foxfire and crew? Their products rock. Who doesn’t want their firefighter to be decked out in more safety gear? Their products are affordable. (Great Father’s Day ideas ladies.) And they truly care about their mission to protect firefighters which goes hand in hand with our mission to care for fire families.
Their newest products this year are the illuminating flashlight cuff and SCBA Facemask identifiers.
We were packed in the booth non-stop. We had some of our favorite Fire Wife items for sale and the husbands were snatching them up like crazy to have something to bring back to their wives. (And we applauded all of them for thinking to do so!) Many of them approached us by saying “My wife said I MUST find you here.” Way to go ladies! They do listen and love you to pieces of course.
The inaugural year of the Firefighter Turnout set the bar so high. Great music and giveaways and casino night and FREE FOOD and DRINKS! In a very nice setting. Um, yes. I’d do that every weekend if we could. All this of course is courtesy of great sponsors…. be sure to check them out: TecGen, Paratech, Amkus, Black Diamond Boots and FireCam.
Firefighter Wife was proud to be amongst the team of hosts for this event sporting our own Fire Wife VIP area and joining our favorite fire industry bloggers Fire Critic, Iron Firemen and Wooden Ladders, Model City Firefighter, Statter911 and meeting for the first time, First Due Tackle. And all made possible by the guys at FirefightersWorldwide.com (whom you will be hearing more about)
check out all the TecGen photobooth photos at this link: http://126.96.36.199:8080/MediaWall/mediaGallery/6150?stats=1
We gave away 100 FirefighterWife.com / MN8 Foxfire Challenge Coins to the Fire Wives in attendance.
And we gave away a free registration to Flame Fest! Congrats to Kelsey Stepro for winning that great prize 🙂
Another great FDIC party worth more than the mention I’m giving it here….. NFFF Stop, Drop and Rock and Roll Benefit Concert and Auction. TOP. NOTCH. And a welcome way to end a long day with more good food, good people and good (LIVE!) music all for a GREAT cause.
More important than any single part of FDIC is the opportunity to spend time in person with members of the fire family. Because they can so relate to your life. Because they are people when the going gets tough you want to be surrounded by. And because when the going isn’t tough, their passion and heart are so inspiring.
Here’s some important info I learned…. who’s who in the world of fire service twitter and instagram! I put faces, voices and real names to all of these awesome people to follow on Twitter
- @averagejakeFFand his lovely wife @stickysidedwn
- Andy Starnes @belvedereparkw who is the same guy posting over on Facebook at Bringing Back Brotherhood
- @cleanairkerry from Plymovent
- @chiefmiller who does the awesome photography on Instagram
Social media is a great way to connect. We are living in a strange time with all the social media outlets and onlne communities drawing us seemingly closer together and sharing information so rapidly…. but getting together in person is where it’s at. To look someone in the eye, hear how they talk and pronounce their name. To talk to them about their beliefs, values and mission instead of inferring it through their posts and tweets.
Then there are those who aren’t so big on social media but who are making an amazing difference right in their own fire communities. People I’ll leave anonymous for the sake of this post but a chief and his wife who will be leading their state Fire Chief’s Association next year who are in the trenches mentoring young fire couples through those challenging early years of marriage.
People like those in the Firefighter Cancer Foundation who bring sweet Savannah the cancer sniffing dog to attack the huge issue of cancer in the fire service. (Also worthy of it’s own post…. more on that later)
And the talented and kind hearted Jodi Monroe with Firefighter Art who is such a dear friend and partner of ours.
Many members of our Fire Wife Sisterhood (and their husbands) helped us to man the booth throughout the show. (I can’t yet thank you or your dear husbands enough for all your time and effort! Next year I’m going to figure out how to buy you all foot massages!!)
Then some of you and your husbands even participated in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb for NFFF.
And finally raised a glass together with us when all the hard work was over.
Just spending time with these ladies alone left me with on a mega-high. How did I get so lucky to have so many amazing women in my life? (If you’re looking for this, you are welcome here too. Join our Fire Wife Sisterhood at this link.)
And then the fire service mentors and role models, Mike and Ann Gagliano, who write and teach for Fire Engineering on marriage in the fire service. Wow. Dan and I were so blessed to spend time with them and talk about what really matters here. That our marriage stays strong and our love for each other comes first. Yes it’s great work we are doing on our mission here but all is for naught if we aren’t staying true to our messages.
And that is the ultimate message here. Strengthen your marriage. Embrace your firefighter’s love for the fire service. Do things together that build each other up and strengthen your marriage. These 3 (exhausting but exhilarating) days together with my love were so important for our marriage I don’t yet have the words to express it, nor to share with those in need how to bring your marriages to such pinnacles. But you know I’m praying through this because this kind of love is what we wish for each and every one of you.
If you want a chance to experience this for yourself, then please check out our exclusive annual event. Flame Fest. The only even designed for Firefighter couples to renew, refresh and reconnect. This year in Chicago July 10-12. All the details here at this link.
If you’d like to read more FDIC wrap ups, check out these posts from our favorite fire bloggers:
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