Firehouse Expo 2010 officially opened this Wednesday in Baltimore, Md. with welcomes from Conference Director Harvey Eisner and Baltimore Fire Chief James Clack.
"This is one of the highlights of the year for me, welcoming the fire service to the city of Baltimore," Clack said.
Follow the full Expo coverage at Firehouse Expo 2010.
Following some additional opening statements and a showcase of dramatic fire video, Eisner got the event underway by recognizing this year's top winner for Firehouse Magazine's Heroism and Community Service Awards, Chicago Firefighter Joseph Martinelli.
Eisner recounted the recipient's harrowing incident:
On the night of March 1, 2009 Martinelli risked his life to save a resident from a burning building, a 2½-story brick dwelling with fire in the rear and heavily charged smoke pushing from the bedroom windows. Martinelli forced entry to the front door, performed a search, and tried to escape with the unconscious adult victim through deteriorating conditions.
"Martinelli knew he had to get out soon, but he would not leave the man behind, not even to save himself," the magazine printed. Martinelli disregarded his safety and sustained second-degree burns to his face while making the rescue.
Martinelli didn't speak at the Expo but previously told Firehouse.com, "No one that I know who is a fireman does it for the awards. You do it because it's a great job; to be in a position to be able to help people."
To read his full story and to hear his Firehouse.com interview visit:
Injured New York Fire Chief Eddie DiMartino spoke at Firehouse Expo about the ramifications of a 2009 crash in which he wasn't wearing a seatbelt, and sustained a traumatic brain injury.
The presentation included statements from himself and his wife Meg, as well as a compelling video about their ordeal.
DiMartino was a teacher and the assistant chief of the East Greenbush Fire Department at the time of the Feb. 18, 2009 incident that changed his family's lives forever. He was responding to a call in his personal vehicle when he crashed due to weather conditions, and has faced a long road toward recovery.
DiMartino ended his statement by echoing the message of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation -- to please buckle up, so "Everyone goes home." In the aftermath of the incident, his wife had learned of the NFFF's seatbelt pledge and the two have since become proponents.
DiMartino's wife Meg was in tears as she said that she was the luckiest woman in the world for her having her husband still alive, but said she always wonders whether his injuries and struggle to recover could have been less. She also shared that their young son Nicholas had been angry at his father for failing to follow simple seatbelt safety. "If he gets it, why can't we?" she asked.
For more on Eddie and to view his video visit:
Medal of Valor
In a final, special presentation during the opening ceremonies, the mayor of Baltimore presented a medal of valor award to a five-year veteran of the city fire department, Jeffrey Novack.
He and his crew at Truck 12 responded to an apartment fire in April where there were occupants trapped on the third floor. They entered, removed a victim, and went back.
"While searching again he became trapped by the fast-moving fire," said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Novack was forced to hang outside the building from a window and then jump.
"I'm proud and indebted to Jeffrey for his bravery and sacrifice," she said.
Also presented at the opening ceremony was a keynote presentation by Battalion Chief Larry Collins of the L.A. County FD. He discussed his experience with the USAR Task Force response to the Haiti earthquake.
For more on that presentation visit: