The Dirt Magazine_Issue 9

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Page 16 of 23 │ 17 │ issue 9 The folks at FDIC understand that not every organization has the funds to send a representative to the conference. And that's where the FDIC Scholarship Program comes into play. Through generous sponsorships from Honeywell and DuPont™ Kevlar ® , 20 deserving firefighters and first responders are awarded a full-paid scholarship – including travel and accommodations. Nominations start coming in almost a year before the show via video testimonials from their peers. Including fire professionals from different stages in their careers helps FDIC to provide such a diverse forum for engagement. But level of experience is just one component of the many different factors that brings the variety of opinions and views together. Another big factor is environment. Firefighters in New York face challenges like large populations and urban, modern infrastructure while a small community in Oklahoma might require robust fire protection and EMS Services. The importance of variety as well as diversity is not lost on the coordinators of the show. In fact, they are proud of the work they do. "Fire service has no agenda or political affiliation; we are everything under the sun and we are damn proud of it," Halton said. "We treat everyone with the same dignity and respect, and we do not tolerate deviation from our code. Honor above all." The female FDIC attendees can certainly attest to that. In partnership with the International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services, FDIC holds iWomen – a one- day international meeting for women in fire service. But in the spirit of collaboration and diversity, the conference is open to everyone. Important female figures from around the world gather to share experiences of women in the industry and the difficulties they face in their field. And while this is the premier event to attend for professional development and learning in the fire industry, these firefighters also appreciate the significance of having a little fun, too. There are two to three major events every night. In every restaurant, street corner or hotel you will find an FDIC attendee. There's a comedy night, battle of the bands, union night, and a 5k fun run along the river. The FDIC 9/11 Stair Climb was created to honor the fallen. Each participant pays tribute to a FDNY firefighter by climbing or walking the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center. The proceeds from the event, which has raised more than $100,000 to date, goes to the national Fallen Firefighters Foundation to help support fire service survivors. If by some chance attendees have time between all of the workshops and activities, then there's the fire service exhibition. More than 900 exhibitors fill the entire convention hall and Lucas Oil Stadium. Thousands of people walk the halls to check out everything from multimillion dollar radio systems to counseling services. FDIC is the most comprehensive, professional development conference in the fire industry. "One of the leading qualities of a firefighter is curiosity," Bobby stated. "An insatiable curiosity among firefighters that drives them to know everything they can – especially because mistakes are deadly." To learn more, visit │ 17 │ issue 9

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