Firehouse Magazine Editor-in-Chief and Firehouse Conference Director Harvey Eisner and Vice President of Firehouse Events Ed Nichols discuss Firehouse events, what’s new and what people can expect at this year’s Firehouse Expo, taking place July 17-21 in Baltimore, MD.
Eisner: What are your observations now that you’ve been with Firehouse for a year?
Nichols: I’ve spent a number of years in the fire service competing with Firehouse and I’m certainly excited to be part of Firehouse now. The brand – the magazine, online and the events – is so strong it makes my job easy: Understand what our customers want and deliver it. The confidence in, and loyalty to, the brand are there. We just need to continue to evolve to meet the expectations of our supporters.
Eisner: Will there be another Stair Climb this year in Baltimore? Who will it benefit and who will help coordinate the event?
Nichols: We do plan to host the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) Stair Climb again. The goal of the climb is to raise money for the NFFF, ultimately getting 343 participants to each wear the name of an FDNY firefighter who died on 9/11 around their neck to climb 110 stories, or the equivalent of scaling the twin towers of the World Trade Center. We nearly had 343 participants last year and I’m confident we will reach that goal this year.
Eisner: After meeting with several attendee focus groups during last year’s Expo, what new things will be added to the attendees’ Firehouse Expo experience?
Nichols: Each year, we compete with so many things – the economy, budget cuts, funding challenges – to “earn the right” to have the fire service attend Firehouse Expo. What we’ve learned is to never take the privilege lightly. Those attending, and frankly those participating, have a right to ask “Why should I be there?” every year and we need to have a good answer.
This year, there will be more hands-on interaction, opportunities to get behind the wheel of apparatus and get tools in their hands, new conference speakers and discussion-worthy topics. Then, after the hall closes, we need to show them a good time – and continue to outperform on creating that experience year after year.
We’ll have networking events that will bring everyone together to celebrate being part of the fire service. That’s what fire-service events have become – or need to become – is a celebration of the fire service. When people come to Baltimore we want them to be among friends and renew the passion and excitement that made them become firefighters.
Eisner: What kind of networking events will be held at Firehouse Expo?
Nichols: One thing that came through loud and clear from the research is that people elect to attend an event based on the complete experience. Not only the education, which we feel we offer the best, or the selection of products and services on the show floor, which we’ve focused our efforts on growing this year, but also the opportunities to get together beyond the show hours and celebrate being part of the fire service. To that point, we’ve worked very closely with the Baltimore Convention and Visitors Bureau this year to create new opportunities throughout the Inner Harbor for families attending Firehouse Expo. We are also working with the Baltimore Stadium Authority and the Baltimore City and Baltimore County fire unions. The plan is to have something for everyone both Thursday and Friday.
Eisner: Will this be like the USS Midway event that was introduced at Firehouse World in San Diego, CA, this year?
Nichols: Of all of the new initiatives introduced at Firehouse World, we found the networking event with MES on the USS Midway, benefiting the Burn Institute, was the addition everyone was talking about.
Eisner: For the first time at Firehouse Expo, there will be a Ride-and-Drive. Please explain what it means, where will it take place and who can participate.