Here’s a long one….. are you ready?
Are you going to FDIC?
Is your firefighter?
Do you even know what it is?
At least here in the midwest, the buzz is loud about this event – the largest gathering of firefighters in the country drawing around 30,000 firefighters and another 30,000 exhibitors.  Firefighters pretty much own Indianapolis for a week each April.
As a wife, you might be excited and ready to head out the door with him or you may be rolling your eyes.  One of the biggest disagreements early in our marriage was over my husband attending FDIC.  Usually, it was on his own dime, using our precious family vacation time and leaving me home for not just 24 or 48 but multiple days in a row while I listened to his giddy firefighting stories the few moments he had a chance to call me.  Then of course there was the “reputation” of FDIC that makes any young wife a bit nervous.  
Fast forward to 2012 when this little firefighter wife blog exploded and suddenly I was not only attending FDIC but invited by some of the biggest names in the fire service.  Seeing it first hand, I learned that the exploits and reputation are as exaggerated as every fire, I mean, fish tale out there.   It’s a safe place with good people (when you stick around the good people)  Read about our first FDIC experience here

Every year since then, Firefighter Wife has hosted a booth.  And WOW have you all shown up in big ways!

The hugs. The selfies. The tender-hearted firefighters who probably never expected to be shedding tears as they tell us of their marriage challenges on the show floor.

Meeting our community in person is priceless. Well, almost. You may be surprised to know that FDIC is our second biggest expense each year second only to our Commitment Weekends. It costs us multiple 5 figures to have a booth at FDIC. Plus, it requires a team of at least 10 people who pay their own way and work 18 hour long days, on their feet, moving boxes and booth setup and smiling to everyone all the while. It’s a major endeavor. Sometimes we make our money back. Sometimes we come close. Sometimes we make a little to help further the non-profit mission. No matter the outcome, the stress and worry of that big spend leading up to the event is a big one.

Great t-shirts will really drive a crowd. But we’ve always been here first for marriage and family support.

The good news is that our book will drive a crowd as well. In 2016, we released the first of it’s kind firefighter marriage book – Honor & Commitment – at FDIC. We sold out pre-orders. Sold out at the show. And it continues to be the mainstay of our mission and resources here.  (Get your copy here now)

This book means so much to us that we make it available at our cost to our Fire Wife Academy participants and to departments who purchase in bulk. Commitment Weekend is life changing. Our online communities are so effective at connecting our nationwide fire family. But that book has slipped quietly into the bunk of countless firefighters and brought answers, solutions and comfort to those fire families who think they are the only ones going through these challenges.

“Honor and Commitment” the first and only story of real life fire families and how to not just survive, but thrive as a fire family – marriage and all.

So this brings us back to FDIC.   Should you go?  Why are we ultimately there?  Is it worth it?  I mean, multiple 5 figures of spend is a massive investment for a small nonprofit like us.

The answer this year was a difficult one but you will not find a Firefighter Wife booth at FDIC 2018.  2019 has brought many changes and while we will not be in attendance for this year’s show… we hope you all understand the most important reason. 


Because.  Family first.  

How could we preach that motto and not live it?
After 5 years of this massive effort from Dan and I and our team, and from all the grandparents and childcare providers while we leave for 4 – 6 days during the busy spring season (during our youngest child’s birthday by the way), we had to fold this hand of cards for this season.  There will not be a booth at FDIC this year.
Some more back story (because keeping it real is how we like it around here, and I won’t be able to hug all my favorite FDIC attendees in person, so this will have to do.)
Last year while I was standing on the show floor at FDIC, in a moment I will never forget, my mom called to tell me my dad had a brain tumor.  A short 3 months of aggressive surgery, left side paralysis, chemo and the heart wrenching agony of watching your loved one lose all cognitive ability and writhe in pain, and in July, my dad went on to be healed completely with Jesus.  My heart is still broken (and my mom….she’s standing so strong but I’m never far from her side.)
Then, another crisis.  This winter, our 15 year old daughter spent 15 weeks in a partial hospitalization program for anorexia.  Still today, I’m spending almost every moment monitoring her food intake and exercise.  Family first.
Major hits right?  The Mercer’s life has been tossed about quite a bit.
But, we have this amazing team here at FirefighterWife.  It’s never been just about the Mercers.  We wondered, could we still pull off FDIC?  It was considered but like us, this crew who has volunteered all this time for the past few years, also has commitments of their own – promotional exams, college classes, new babies, growing children and changing childcare dynamics.   And we need to save them for something even more important.
As much as we love our team camaraderie together at FDIC and meeting so many of our “fans” in person, FDIC is not really part of our mission.  It’s a great place to get the word out, even if it starts simply with someone buying a t-shirt.   But there are way more important initiatives that our organization focuses on to strengthen marriages.
Most specifically, our upcoming Commitment Weekend (our 7th event of it’s kind) which sold out in a hot second!  We’ve got a packed house of nearly 200 people heading to Columbus, Ohio in July.   Commitment Weekend is the most effective way we impact marriages in the fire service and we need our full team on board to make this happen.  

So with sadness we announce we will not be at FDIC 2018.  Sending virtual hugs right now to the community of fire service show attendees we’ve grown to call family over these past 6 years.

Can we also give a big shout out to Firehouse World and Firehouse Expo who have graciously allowed our organization to attend their events at mega discounts?  And, in much nicer vacation getaway spots than Indy (sorry Indy.  I’m in Ohio right there with you.  California and Nashville win.)  Without their partnership, we wouldn’t have been able to reach so many of you.

And to all of you who are feeling a sigh of disappointment, never forget you can reach us all the time by email, Facebook message or inside our online communities.
But we wouldn’t just leave you hanging without some great FDIC fire swag deals.  

For the duration of the show, we’ve put our online store on sale here.

[Sales and discounts end on April 29th, 2018 at midnight.]

This leaves us with one very important fire family topic lingering out there.

Who should commit the time, the money and the energy to attend FDIC?
It is the largest firefighter training event in the country.  Good stuff does happen here.  If your department is on board to cover the cost and your family is in a healthy space for you to be able to leave, go experience it!
Otherwise, we suggest you ask yourself, is it going to make waves in your family?  Is this the best use of our time and money and energy?  Are you 100% enthusiastically agreeing together that it should happen?  We’ll leave those for you to chew on.

And the next most popular FDIC question we get:  should the wives attend?

Often we see the excitement and budgets saved for a couples FDIC getaway.  If your idea of a great couples getaway is all the best firefighter eye candy (tools, trucks, demonstrations and more), then FDIC is a great option for you.  
But one of the reasons we are rationalized not attending FDIC (or other shows) this year is that it’s never been a couples event for our organization.  It’s purely been a place to get the message out. Which is super important and has been effective.  But we do not host any marriage building activities during FDIC (we pitched it a couple times and it was shot down….we tried!).   If you’re looking for that kind of event with awesome firefighter talk that also builds your marriage, Commitment Weekend is where you want to be.  
And that’s where we will be pouring our time and energy in 2018.  Right here in my own backyard (well not literally, we’re at the amazing Ohio Fire Academy and Station 67 Union Hall) which allows me to stay near to those teens….as we send our first off to college in Arizona in August.   See how much “life” we’re packing into this season?

First family first.  Straight out of the mouths of Chief Rick Lasky and Chief John Salka, whom I met at my very first FDIC when this was just a baby blog with a big vision.

Much love to our fire family for understanding this choice.  
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On a mission to be and inspire us all to be better humans, to strengthen fire families & marriages, to nurture and encourage fire wives, do "good business" in all areas of my life and of course, love on my 4 kids.

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