Last week, even as the FDIC exhibits were just beginning, people were talking about the significant changes they were seeing in the fire and emergency service industry.
Eric Schlett, vice president at Pennwell, said this year's show had 820 exhibitors, only two fewer than last year. The show had 5,000 firefighters signed up for Hands On Training evolutions, and a total attendance of 29,417, or about 2,000 more attendees than last year.* Traffic fluctuated quite a bit during each day of the show, Saturday being the lightest for serious attendees. Depending on the exhibiting company and its location, perception of attendance varied. Representatives from Lion andboth said this year’s FDIC was very successful. In fact, Honeywell’s representative said it was the best trade show since before Sept. 11.
Fortunately, the economy is trying to make a comeback, and the fire chiefs I spoke with said they could no longer hold off buying new equipment and could convince their city managers of the need. And it seems that chiefs are more involved in the buying process so they can monitor how monies are being spent.
Unfortunately, I was really disappointed to see the increase of young girls with “FDIC” glittering across their chests trying to catch the eyes of attendees. There seemed to be more costumed women at the show than there were female firefighters in attendance. When women in these types of accessories appeared at Fire-Rescue International a few years back, attendees complained tomanagement. I wonder what the reaction was here.
If show management needs additional help to distribute flyers or directions, why not solicit firefighters or students who might not otherwise be able to attend the show in exchange for day passes? Why not donate to a local scouting organization in exchange for assistance? In an industry that continues to have serious problems with sexual harassment and gender-related issues, this is unnecessary and improper.
In the underground walkway between the stadium and the convention center, I noticed a group of four firefighters and their chief chatting with one of the young FDIC girls. They had asked her if she knew what “FDIC” stood for. Her response: “Fire department international center?”
Thanks for confirming my suspicions.