FDIC International: Looking ahead to the ultimate firefighter conference

Share this content


With new elements such as the Women in Fire Conference and IGNITE, there is a lot to look forward to at FDIC International 2023

FDIC International 2023 is one of the most anticipated events in the world for the firefighting community. The annual conference brings together thousands of fire and rescue professionals, world-class instructors, and industry experts from around the world to share knowledge, showcase innovative products and services, and participate in hands-on training and educational sessions. The 2023 event will be held from April 24-29 at the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

With over 35,000 industry professionals expected to attend, FDIC International 2023 offers an incredible opportunity for attendees to develop stronger industry relationships, learn from other departments about the challenges they are facing, and bring back new insights to their own departments and businesses. The week-long event includes with interactive hands-on training sessions, where firefighters and fire and rescue professionals can participate in live training courses and pre-conference workshops.

Over 200 conference sessions will be taught by renowned instructors presenting new areas of interest within the fire service along with updated content on important topics. Attendees can learn about the latest tactics, techniques, and technologies designed to take their knowledge to the next level.

FDIC International 2023 also features special events, including the Women in Fire Conference, which provides training, support, and advocacy for women in the fire service, and IGNITE, an exhibiting destination for start-up businesses owned by emergency service entrepreneurs looking to make their debut at the show.

The North America region is expected to dominate the fire alarm and detection market at the event. The exhibition will showcase advancements in technology for fire protection, such as AI-powered and IoT-enabled fire detection systems. With its focus on learning, sharing, and innovation, FDIC International 2023 is an essential event for anyone involved in the firefighting industry.


International Fire & Safety Journal will be present at the show at booth #4962. Feel free to stop by the stand and catch up with IFSJ Managing Editor Duncan J. White and the team who will be on hand to talk attendees. To arrange a meeting with Duncan at the show contact [email protected].

Duncan says: “FDIC International is a fire trade show like no other in the calendar. FDIC 2023 will mark my 21st visit to the Circle City and I can’t wait! The opportunity to engage with manufacturers, distributors, and end users in one place makes a trip to Indianapolis a must for global fire and rescue professionals. This year will be particularly poignant following the passing in December of Chief (Ret) Bobby Halton, editor in chief of Fire Engineering magazine and education director of the Fire Department Instructors Conference. I am sure that Bobby will be the focus of many conversations during the show. RIP my friend.”

Everything to look out for at FDIC International 2023

Hands on Training

The H.O.T. Evolutions offers the latest training on fire service technology and techniques, led by some of the most influential figures in the industry. These sessions take place on 25-25 April and are designed to improve the skills of firefighters who attend, equipping them with valuable knowledge to enhance the safety of their communities.

Instructor Chris Minichiello, a firefighter from the FDNY and East Coast Rescue Solutions, will lead an informative session titled ‘Conventional Forcible Entry: The “Keys to the Job”‘. This class is designed to teach the basics of forcible entry, as well as advanced techniques, with an emphasis on hands-on experience for each participant, where they will be given the opportunity to force inward/outward doors on props.

Ray McCormack, a retired lieutenant from the Fire Department of New York, will lead a class titled ‘H.O.S.E.: Hoisting, Operating, Stretching, Estimating’. This session combines traditional best practices and contemporary research, offering advanced engine skill development. The class focuses on flowing while advancing, water mapping, interior hose stretches, and attack. Attendees will rotate through multiple stations to gain knowledge and confidence.

Firefighter Aaron Fields from the Seattle Fire Department will lead a session called ‘Nozzle Forward’, aimed at improving engine operations through a technique-driven methodology. The class will cover various topics such as handline stretching, hose bed configuration options, fire attack theory, hose-line management, and keystone angle configurations. Attendees will learn hose handling and advancement techniques, allowing them to apply their new knowledge in real-world situations.

Elsewhere, Joseph Berchtold, Chief of Teaneck (NJ) Fire Department, will conduct a session titled ‘Flashover and Modern Fire Behaviour Training.’ This class provides firefighters with a valuable opportunity to observe fire behaviour and the telltale signs that lead up to a flashover. The course aims to equip firefighters with the knowledge and skill required to recognise flashovers, along with escape methods and safe fireground operations.

Getting into gear

Show attendees will have the opportunity to participate in a series of pre-conference workshops on Monday and Tuesday. These workshops, which last around four hours, offer a comprehensive exploration of specific topics within the fire service, both traditional and new. With a variety of topics to choose from, participants can expect to gain new insights, ideas and approaches to bring back to their departments.

Captain Steven Hamilton of Fort Jackson (SC) Fire Department will be hosting a workshop on ‘Active Shooter: Preplanning the Response’. This session aims to equip attendees with guidelines and recommended practices to identify and analyse high-risk target areas, as well as the required multiagency participation to create practical and effective pre-incident plans.

Another workshop, ‘Developing Firefighter Resiliences’ will be led by Firefighter Ric Jorge of Tactical Resiliency Training. This session is based on the book Developing Firefighter Resiliency by Fire Engineering, and includes video and photos of immersion training classes. Attendees will learn performance training techniques such as bio-metric monitoring, team pairing, mindset work, and emotional regulation.

Battalion Chief (Ret.) William Peters of Jersey City (NJ) Fire Department will be leading a session on the intricacies of apparatus purchasing. The course will provide guidance to participants through the challenging process of specifying fire apparatus. Peters will look at justification, the use of the National Fire Protection Association 1901 Standard for Automotive Fire Apparatus (including upcoming changes), conducting successful preconstruction conferences, thorough final factory inspections, and the delivery and acceptance of new apparatus.

Meanwhile, Assistant Chief David Polikoff of Frederick County (MD) Fire and Rescue will be hosting a workshop called “Command Under Fire”, designed to teach new and experienced incident commanders, as well as line officers, the art of commanding an incident. Students will learn to make sound decisions, convey their strategy over the radio, and run an effective functional fireground.

Bill Gustin, Captain of Miami-Dade (FL) Fire Rescue, will conduct a workshop titled ‘Management and Operations for Newly-Promoted Company Officers’. The main goal of this workshop is to equip newly-promoted company officers with the necessary leadership skills and confidence to manage their company when responding to alarms, when operating at roadway incidents, and when their company is first to arrive at fires in different types of buildings.

And for those looking to better understand fire through technology, Joseph DeVito, Captain/Paramedic of Fort Myers Beach (FL) Fire Control District, will delve into Fire Behaviour and Thermal Imaging. Students will learn how to scan with a thermal imager, recognise flow paths, and identify go/no-go situations based on their understanding of fire behaviour,

Knowledge is power

FDIC International provides an abundance of opportunities for learning the latest tactics, techniques, and technologies in the fire service. With world-renowned instructors, attendees can take their knowledge to the next level through a variety of courses offered throughout the week.

Terri Reid, Captain of Baltimore County (MD) Fire Department, will be presenting a seminar on ‘Recruiting for All the Right Reasons’, addressing the persistent issue of recruitment in the fire service. The class will analyse the latest statistics on fire and emergency services in comparison to data over the past several years, public perception surrounding why some individuals do not believe they have what it takes to join the service, and proven techniques to recruit and retain a more diverse fire service.

Denis Onieal, former Deputy US Fire Administrator, will be sharing his expertise on ‘Leadership Lessons Learned on the Line’. This presentation is a practical exercise designed for aspiring or current fire officers. Participants will identify the leadership traits they admire and those they want to develop in themselves in a confidential setting.

Mental health is a critical topic in the fire service, and Daniel DeGryse, retired Battalion Chief and Director of the Rosecrance Florian Program, will be leading a conversation about suicide with leaders in the fire service and mental health field. The aim is to facilitate thoughtful perspectives on suicide and to generate ideas on how to shift from reactive approaches to preventive ones.

Paul Shoemaker, Firefighter Paramedic and Owner of Next Level Extrication in Colorado, will discuss the causes, risks, and tactics surrounding lithium-ion battery fires in a session titled ‘Electric Vehicle Fires: Causes, Risks, and Tactics’. Students will gain knowledge about electric vehicle fires, fire behaviour associated with lithium battery fires, causes of the fires, proper steps to extinguish them and more.

Bobbie Scopa, Deputy Director for Fire Operations at the US Forest Service – Oregon, Washington, and Alaska, will host a seminar on ‘Leadership and Diversity’. Through entertaining stories based on 45 years in the fire service, the instructor will share experiences of a long and successful fire career, from being a tailboard firefighter to an assignment in Washington, DC. The class will encourage firefighters, company officers, and chiefs to reflect on their behaviour in relation to diversity in the workplace.

And Todd McNeal, Chief from Dixon (CA) Fire Department, will lead a seminar on harnessing data during wildland emergencies called ‘Data-Driven Decision Making for Wildland Emergencies’. The class will introduce attendees to the volume of data available at their fingertips and accessed in a split second related to wildland fires. Students will be taught how to harvest data, apply context and filters, convert information to intelligence that is actionable, and incorporate that intelligence into their decision making and crew briefings for safer operations and decisions in the wildland fire environment.

Women in Fire Conference

The Women in Fire Conference is set to return to FDIC International, starting with an opening ceremony and followed by a line-up of educational classes that offer training, support, and advocacy specifically tailored to women in the fire service.

On Monday 24th, the dedicated day-long conference will feature a session by Bradley Pinsky, Attorney at Law; Chief (Ret.) – Pinsky Law Group, PLLC; Manlius (NY) Fire Department, titled ‘Must-Have Policies and Practices for Every Fire Department’. This class focuses on the most essential administrative policies and operational practices required by every fire department in the US and Canada.

Patrick Kenny, Chief (Ret.) – Western Springs (IL) Fire Department will present ‘Why We Need to Put the Cape Back On’. In this presentation, Kenny shares a personal perspective on the challenges of mental illness in the fire service. He discusses how the stigma surrounding mental illness can prevent firefighters from seeking help, and how this can lead to tragic outcomes.

Elsewhere, Mike Gagliano, Captain (Ret.) – Seattle (WA) Fire Department will look at The Art of Go/No-Go. The goal that Gagliano outlines is to create a framework of three varying profiles: Rescue, Building, and Fire. The instructor will show how these profiles allow you to keep focused on your decisions and give you the ability to draw on what you have learned and react to changes in the dynamic fire environment.

Networking opportunities

FDIC International provides a unique opportunity for members of the fire service from all over the world to come together, connect, and share knowledge. With so much to offer, attendees can maximise their experience by attending a variety of special events planned throughout the week. One such event is the MATCH! Program, which has returned this year to facilitate networking.

The MATCH! Program is structured in a way that allows both parties to come prepared for a productive business conversation, saving precious time at the event. Meetings are pre-scheduled and mutually agreed upon, which ensures that participants get the most out of their experience. This program is a great way for participants to connect with the right people, make meaningful business connections, and grow your network.

Small business in focus

One of the most exciting features of FDIC International is IGNITE, a special exhibit area dedicated to start-up businesses founded by emergency service entrepreneurs who are making their debut at the show. These companies will be joining other small businesses to create a supportive community within the Lucas Oil Stadium exhibit hall.

Participating exhibitors will have the opportunity to establish relationships, connect with, and network among industry professionals, including fire chiefs, officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, distributors, and manufacturers of all sizes. Do not miss out on IGNITE, where you can discover the latest innovations and cutting-edge technology in the industry from emerging entrepreneurs.

Fire Rescue Station of the Future

FDIC International will feature the “Fire Rescue Station of the Future” – an interactive showcase of cutting-edge design and products. Designed by H2M architects + engineers (H2M) and featuring more than 30 additional sponsors, this walk-through exhibit of a futuristic station will look at essential programmatic changes to the current fire station model.

The futuristic station is designed to look at how current fire/rescue station designs evolve to accommodate new needs such as the growing number of electric apparatus and support vehicles and managing the electric service of a building while dealing with local codes and ordinances for proper fire separation and fire suppression systems.

It will seek to answer: how fire stations can accommodate battery storage technology; if drones and robots become common; if biometrics will become the new standard for measuring the health and well-being of responders; how we can retrofit existing stations with these ideas and equipment so that all battalions are prepared for the future; and above all what a ‘futuristic’ station look like.

Attendees will be able to navigate through the exhibit, exploring exciting new building and room designs with new equipment/products in each. Explorable spaces will include: bays with brand new electric apparatus, robots, drones, and the state-of-the-art apparatus support; decontamination and transition zones and laundering facilities that will bring visitors from the traditionally “dirty/red” side of the building to the “clean/green” side; cutting-edge training rooms where presentations will be offered throughout the conference; a top of the line command and dispatch centre; modern living quarters and exercise room; and an outdoor/well-being area.

A tribute to Bobby Halton

An evening event will be held on Wednesday 26 April from 5:30-7:15 pm to remember the late Chief (Ret.) Bobby Halton. He served as the education director of FDIC and editor in chief of Fire Engineering, and his sudden passing on December 19, 2022, was deeply felt by the fire service community.

The is a celebration of Halton’s life and career by encouraging attendees to share their funny stories and reminiscences about Bobby’s 18 years of service in those roles. It will serve as an opportunity to pay tribute to the man who loved, served, and taught the fire service throughout his life, and everyone is welcome to attend.

This article was originally published in the April edition of IFSJ. To read your FREE digital copy, click here.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox