Firehouse Expo Preview: More Lessons Learned, Volunteer Days, ‘A Family Business’

April 10, 2023
Organizers of the 40th Anniversary edition of Firehouse Expo sought to distinguish the event from all that preceded it by delivering more lessons learned and helping volunteer members to attend.

If you haven’t joined us in Columbus at this point for Firehouse Expo and experienced all that the city offers, know that an article in Forbes Magazine called Columbus a “hidden gem” and touted its diverse food and art scenes and highlighted unique offerings of the country’s 14th largest city. We continue to partner with Columbus Division of Fire, the Ohio Fire Academy and departments throughout Central Ohio to provide unique training opportunities with top national instructors.

Schedule change for first day

To add more educational opportunities to Wednesday happenings, we updated the day’s schedule. Three groups of sessions will be offered between 8 a.m.–12:30 p.m. There will be a break for lunch and then the opening ceremonies will begin at 2 p.m., including awards and the keynote address (see next page). The day then will transition to the exhibit floor, where there will be a welcome reception, a Tailboard Talk and a roundtable.

New classes

This year’s expanded classroom schedule includes the return of popular classes and instructors along with a variety of new instructors and topics.

We are excited to have David Decker, who is the host of the well-known @CommandVisionFire channel on YouTube, bring his sessions to Firehouse Expo this year. Many of you have ridden virtually with him as he captures video and audio of incidents in Newark, OH. Now you can attend his class, “Incident Command: Defining the Expectation.” Expanding on his videos, Decker will set the pace for incident command with tips, tricks and how to use tactical worksheets.

Apartment buildings can be found in any community in the nation, and Firehouse Magazine Engine Essentials columnist Jonathan Hall will bring his popular article on apartment fires to life in his new session, “Engine Company Operations at Apartment Fires.” Getting the hoseline into operation at the seat of the fire as soon as possible increases survivability and reduces damage in the home of many. Attend Hall’s session to learn more about engine tactics in these challenging environments.

Departments have parsed various rapid intervention operations and skills to meet their resources and responses, but critical points might be overlooked when different programs fight for training time. Robert

Policht will help attendees look at current RIT needs and deployment practices to assess their own needs in “RIT? FAST? RIC? WHO?”

Are you prepared to use your department’s drone? During “Flying into a New Era: Building a Drone Program and Utilization in the Fire Service,” Christopher Yoch will explain his department’s drone program, from concept, to equipment, to deployment at fires, for searches for missing people, and at large-scale incidents for victim search and responder safety.

Volunteer days

Firehouse Expo will offer special programs for volunteer firefighters with a special discounted rate of $75 registration for either Wednesday or Friday. Sessions those days include tactics and leadership, training, and best practices for recruitment and retention. There also will be roundtables regarding various volunteer-focused topics.

Don’t miss “CPR for the Volunteer Fire Service,” a program with Ohio Fire Academy Fire Chief Jack Smith and Candice McDonald, who is the deputy CEO of the National Volunteer Fire Council. They will discuss recruitment and retention strategies that aren’t based on costly campaigns and incentives but, rather, on practical, professional applications.

Brandon Fletcher will deliver two sessions, including “AFG Strategies for Success,” which will walk attendees through the process of writing grants for the Assistance to Firefighter Grants program from FEMA, including how his department has successfully navigated the process. This involves professional appearance and computer score justification, among others.

Lessons learned

Attendees of Firehouse Expo in 2022 requested more classes/speakers that concentrate on lessons learned and that provide examination of close calls and fireground incidents.

Shawn Corder will detail his crew’s near-miss when members became disoriented and separated on the second floor of the church and were running low on air as heavy fire conditions threatened their lives inside of a church. He will share what happened and what you need to train on now in his session, “Out of Air, Can YOU Make It to Safety?”

Various factors led to veteran fire instructor Ragan Underwood being trapped by a unilateral flow path after he evacuated his students during a live fire training exercise. Join Underwood in his session, “I Was Not Ready for This!” He will explain what happened that day—despite hundreds of hours of training—how it has affected his role as a firefighter and instructor, and what attendees can do during their operations and training.

Pre-conference workshops

Our in-depth pre-conference workshops will allow participants to take a deep dive into leadership, tactics and the human side of firefighting, among other topics.

Getting out with the crew in your first-due always creates great discussions between members, and Firehouse Expo’s “Walking Columbus: Talking Tactics and Construction” will bring together a group of veteran fire instructors and attendees to discuss building construction and tactics. Join Columbus Division of Fire’s legendary Capt. (Ret.) Greg Lash, firefighter Nelvin Young and their cadre as they take you on a full-day tour of Columbus to look at myriad types of buildings to understand size-up, construction, and strategies and tactics. Registration is limited, so sign-up today.

Fire departments across the country face many challenges in the post-COVID 19 era, including leadership changes, culture issues and exhaustion, which all can bring down morale in firefighters. Join Charleston, SC, Fire Chief Dan Curia and Assistant Chief David Griffin (author of Firehouse’s Leadership Lessons column) for “The Morale Dilemma,” as they show how to guide a department forward by reevaluating its culture, examining leadership, and setting goals and timelines to boost the morale and make the organization more successful.

Find the full list of pre-conference workshops here:

You must preregister for these four- and eight-hour workshops, so do it today.

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