Firehouse Expo

Firehouse Expo's 27th year kicked off with thousands of attendees traveling to Baltimore, MD, to train and learn from the best in the fire service. This year's event was unlike any in the past; it featured more educational opportunities than ever before and a new Family Fun and Flea Market event was added to thank the families of all firefighters for their support.

Everyone was invited to attend the Opening Ceremonies and Keynote Presentation with Battalion Chief Larry Collins of the Los Angeles County, CA, Fire Department describing his experiences following the Haitian earthquake and the response of American urban search and rescue (USAR) task forces at the scene. His first-hand account of the devastation and relief efforts were heartwarming and a film clip featuring a woman buried alive for seven days, who broke out in song, was an inspirational note to all in attendance that their service is priceless. A separate discussion panel on the Haitian earthquake gave attendees a forum to ask questions and learn more about the rescue efforts.

A pair of heroes honored at this year's event included Firefighter Joseph Martinelli and Firefighter/Paramedic Jeffrey Novack. Martinelli, from Squad 2 of the Chicago Fire Department, is the 2010 Grand Prize Recipient in the Firehouse® Heroism and Community Service Awards program for disregarding his own safety to make a very difficult rescue. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake presented Novack, of the Baltimore City Fire Department, with the Valor Award for saving the life of an 85-year-old woman before being forced to bail out of a third-floor window.

Also new to the event this year, the National Volunteer Fire Council's (NVFC) National Junior Firefighter Program, in partnership with Spartan Motors Inc., California Casualty and Firehouse Expo, presented the inaugural National Junior Firefighter Academy on Saturday. The academy consisted of two sessions that ran concurrently — one for junior firefighters and one for advisors.

Attendees walked the 90,000-square-foot exhibit floor, featuring 345 companies, to see the newest in fire service products, services and technologies, including apparatus, turnout gear, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), computer software, lighting, thermal imagers and much more. This type of purchasing option saves departments valuable time and money by letting them shop and research future purchases all under one roof. It also gives them the opportunity to meet one-on-one with company representatives to ask questions about extending the life of products they already own.

One of the big changes this year was to move the flea market to Saturday and bring the antique apparatus indoors to a climate-controlled environment. Thousands of Firehouse Expo attendees along with local fire buffs crowded this separate exhibit floor. Firehouse Expo wanted to show its appreciation to the families of firefighters by expanding on the previous years' flea market. Activities included fire safety education, bouncers for the kids and craft tables. A special performance was made by the Fire Brigade Pipes & Drums of Greater Baltimore Ltd.

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Attendees will not want to miss next year's event as we provide special programming to honor the memory of 9/11/01. Join us in Baltimore, MD, July 19-23, 2011.

Stay tuned to for information.