FDIC Indianapolis is simply amazing…
This post is about our first visit to FDIC Indianapolis. For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a week long firefighter convention and training show in Indianapolis. I was told by plenty of other firefighters that you have to see it to believe it. I have attended some other smaller shows including Toronto so I get what it is about. You bring a bunch of firefighters to a big room and try to sell them some new trucks, gear or gizmos. This is where FDIC Indianapolis is completely different. First, it’s a week long and its big, real big, with attendance in the 32,000+ area. In fact I heard people come to visit FDIC from more than 55 countries. It’s more than a sales blitz. There is live hands on training, seminars, book signings, demonstrations and many famous people there too. When I say this I mean they are famous in the North American fire service mostly but also many are well known around the world too. You will see fire service icons like retired chiefs Alan Brunacini, Billy Goldfeder, Rick Lasky, John Salka, Bobby Halton and many others. I went with a friend who is also a firefighter and we stayed in East Indy due to the fact almost no rooms are available. You have to book at least 6 months to a year ahead to get a good room. So as a result we took one of the many bus shuttles to the event. As we approached the event you could notice flags and banners across some downtown buildings. Police cars and fire trucks parked everywhere almost guide you there. The front entrance to the Indiana conference center is littered with fire truck banners and posters. It’s a little overwhelming and confusing when you get to the door. Eventually we found the massive Penwell registration counter. It looked more like an airport ticket counter at O’Hare but was very well organized and fast. Figuring out which direction to go is a problem. The Penwell goodie bag had a map but it’s so massive you really don’t know where to start. The Indiana convention center and the adjacent Lucas Oil Stadium are 183,000 square feet plus huge outdoor displays. Indoor convention center has a mix of firefighter gear, trucks and anything else. The adjoining Lucas Oil Stadium has plenty of ariel fire trucks and equipment inside on the entire football field. Believe me you can’t do this even in 2 days you really need the full 3 days the exhibition runs.
FDIC Indianapolis in Lucas Oil Stadium
At Lucas stadium they have a number of Ariel trucks and a portable burn tower. Yes that’s right its in the flat bed for a semi to haul. The unit is 3 stories high and hydraulically tipped up. The stadium had a mix of equipment but mostly it was dominated by Pierce. Pierce makes some very impressive trucks. There was a huge rescue truck build for Port Washington Wisconsin. Now I have been there and I would say that’s a massive truck for a smaller town, kudos to them. Also displays by Will-Bert who make portable telescopic lighting and video towers. These are towers are almost exclusively using high-tech LED modules instead of old school halogen bulbs.
Outside the front entrance to Lucas Oil Stadium there were outdoor demonstration s for Bull-Ex and others. Apparently you could try the Bull-Ex live fire simulation but we didn’t know about it until later. This was the area where the Scott Fire Fit competition took place. On the other side of the area were several Ariel trucks as well. One of the most impressive apparatus in the area was the Spartan ERV 136-foot TelStar seen in this photo. It’s a 100′ with a 46′ articulating platform with an underside monitor capable of 1000GPM.
FDIC Indianapolis inside Indiana Convention Center
Inside the colossal 2 level Indiana convention center had tons of demonstrations and give-aways. There was some more notable equipment and very innovative technology. The one truck that would say was fairly awesome was the the KME built rescue for York Pennsylvania. This mammoth beast was 48′ long pushing the $800K mark. It had every option you could think of like quad hydraulic hose spools on a sliding tray for extrication tools. This York truck even had a vintage Roto-Ray light on the front grille. Twin Q’s and air horns. I spoke with lots of the vendors. They were very friendly as they know this is the biggest show they will do all year. I was very impressed with the rep I spoke with from Whelen. They make emergency vehicle lights for anything for police, fire, ambulances. They are manufacturing almost 100% of their products and internal components in the USA. Also very amazing was Horton ambulances new modular vehicle electronics called Intelliplex i4G. The vehicle can be monitored, started, unlocked, control temperature and more by smartphone. Some companies had high tech 3D video simulation equipment for driving, firefighting, haz-mat. You name it, if it had anything remotely to do with the fire service it was there at the exhibition.
FDIC Indianapolis has Antique Trucks
There was also at least one special antique truck a 1928 Hale pump. Totally restored by Hale and firefighter volunteers. There are some website articles about history here and also regarding the restoration found here.
FDIC Indianapolis in summary
Still there was lots to do even after the closing of the exhibition each night. Plenty of charity events and hospitality suites every night of the exhibition part of FDIC Indianapolis. Indianapolis knows how to do convention of this magnitude. Downtown the pubs had firefighter themed their establishments. There were downtown outdoor venues and the weather was excellent. If you are a firefighter and have been talking about going for years, just do it! Book your room well in advance. Allow yourself the 3 days to really see everything and you won’t be disappointed. You will come home having bragging rights and cool free stuff like T-shirts.