On the stage during the opening ceremonies of FDIC Wednesday morning was a portrait of fallen Indianapolis Battalion Chief Steve Auch.
Auch, 56, was found dead at his home on the afternoon of Feb. 1 following a shift that included responses to several emergency incidents. His death was declared an on-duty death by the USFA.
FDIC Education Director Bobby Halton announced that this year's conference would be dedicated to the veteran firefighter who spent much of his time helping plan the event.
"He loved this event dearly," Halton said.
Auch's wife, Donna, was in attendance.
A member of the city's fire department since 1978, Auch worked on FDIC since its first year in Indianapolis in 1995.
He helped plan the event year-round, from obtaining sites for hands-on training to setting up speakers and obtaining props for opening ceremonies and general sessions at the conference.
Indianapolis Battalion Chief Bill Brown remembered his good friend fondly.
"He loved his family, loved the job, but with Steve there was a third love and that was truly FDIC," he said in a statement issued shortly after Auch's death. "Year after year Steve would endlessly assist in making each year greater than the previous year. The friendships and knowledge he developed over the years working on FDIC cannot be expressed in a few words."
Those in attendance bowed their heads in silence to remember the member of the fire service who was dedicated to helping train firefighters.
Other News from FDIC
* The Ray Downey Courage and Valor Award was given to FDNY Firefighter Peter Demontreux for rescuing two people from a structure fire in Brooklyn on Aug. 20, 2010.
"It is fitting that the recipient of this year's award is a member of the FDNY, Chuck Downey, Ray's son, said referring to this year as the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
* Local dignitaries addressed the packed crowd at the opening ceremonies, thanking the members of the fire service for all that they do.
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said, "In Indiana we revere the fire service. We do everything we can to promote and support it."
Indy Mayor Greg Ballard added, "In Indy, public safety is always Job No. 1. Talks between the city, fire department and local have been open and productive."
* Members of India's fire service were in attendance as FDIC plans to hold an event in Dehli next year.
Firehouse.com will be providing coverage of this year's FDIC conference throughout the week.