Some things should never change within the fire, rescue, and emergency medical services.
Some things must. Situated firmly at the intersection of the past and the future of this industry, FDIC is “more than your traditional trade show”. FDIC celebrates continuing education, the latest innovation and professional dedication, drawing strength from yesterday to have the courage to face tomorrow. But how does honoring the past address needs in the future of fire and rescue?
Dedication is defined as “the quality of being committed to a task or purpose”. But there is another definition; one that is equally applicable to the men and women of the fire and rescue services. Dedication also means to “cite in someone’s name or honor”. The 9/11 Memorial Stair climb, performed by firefighters around the country since 2005, is not a race, nor a timed event. It is a way to remember and honor those men and women that gave their lives in service of others. This event requires commitment and grit. Just before hundreds of men and women began the equivalent of a 110-story climb around Lucas Oil Stadium, dressed in bunker gear and bearing names of fallen firefighters, FDIC Educational Director David Rhodes addressed the crowd, saying “Come, climb, and remember. But also climb for yourself and for your future.” Rescue professionals will continue to display honor and commitment as proudly as their fire helmet tin shields for generations. There will always be respect for rank, to honor those that have served and now lead. There will always be a distinct smell of fire gear, smoky and soot-stained from call after call. There will always be those that run into the blaze while others are running out. Those that look at the chaos as an opportunity to help, putting their needs aside to rely on their training to save lives day after day. These elements make up the bedrock of fire and rescue; the foundation on which to build a safer tomorrow for them—and for you and me.
It doesn't take long, walking around the concourse with 34,000+ fire and rescue professionals, to realize the future of this industry isn’t just about technological innovation. The future of fire and EMS is also about bringing awareness of dangers on and off the fireground—making sure these men and women remain safe and protected, continue to serve their communities, and live a life less burdened by the worries of cancer, illness and PTSD related to the profession. Within the Fire and Rescue services, the future is directly informed by the past. Recent technologies, such as electric fire trucks, techniques to fight electric car fires or more flame-resistant bunker gear, are not meant to simply replace current tools of the trade. They are advancements in the tools that have worked with for generations. These items aren’t “new”, they are simply being refined given what we now know to be the visible and invisible threats to safety.
But becoming aware begins with someone who is willing to question, to remain skeptical, and to call out the dangers. Someone like Ray Pfeffier, who fought our country’s highest institutions to bring awareness to the threats of job-related cancers post 9/11. Someone monitoring the changes in our climate and its ongoing impact on wildfires, bringing awareness for the need for reducing carbon impact in training and practice. Someone like AT&T’s FirstNet Program; bringing better cell phone service and awareness for the need for ongoing mental health support among first responders, who have a higher rate of suicide than the public. Something like the Women in Fire Conference; networking, education, and celebration of women in a male-dominated profession to bring awareness to the need for firehouses to look more like the communities they serve.
HAIX knows. Like the Fire Rescue Station of the Future in Lucas Oil Stadium, we also invited FLAIM, the world’s first immersive, virtual fire training experience, into our booth. FLAIM can help reduce the carbon emissions from training exercise, and dramatically reduce training ground injuries. We support increasing awareness of the “invisible” dangers within turnout gear, partnering with the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation throughout the development of our new boot, the HAIX Fire Eagle Xtreme boots. Though visibly different from traditional bunker boots, the Fire Eagle Xtreme has years of research and development in consideration of the leading cause of fireground injury (slips, trips, and falls). We unveiled the Fire Eagle Xtreme at FDIC, and the immediate feedback was positive. Sure, it will take some getting used to lacing systems, leg-cuffs and more secure fit, but we stand by these advancements.
Stay tuned for HAIX’ upcoming interview with Cindy Ell and Webster Marshall of the Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation, who spent years helping us develop and refine the Fire Eagle Xtreme, with firefighter safety at the forefront of our minds. In the coming weeks and months, we will also be interviewing some of the professionals at the front lines of the changing topography of service within this industry. We stand with those fighting for awareness and advancements in health, service, fitness, and well-being, including combat challengers, and iEmpathize, a company raising awareness of human trafficking and training the fire services to step in and save lives off the fireground.