What a week it has been, this time last week I was just getting home from my part-time job and finalizing packing to head to Baltimore Maryland to teach at Firehouse EXPO, and then my family vacation at Myrtle Beach. Now I am at home tired and staring down the barrel of 4 day stretch at work.
I have attended Firehouse EXPO many times but had never had the chance to teach. I have taught at FDIC twice so I thought I had this whole conference thing down. Firehouse while a great company, and conference is as different from FDIC and Fireengineering as night and day. While FDIC is filled daily with training classes from morning to-night, EXPO is not like that. During the classroom sessions at EXPO there are only a few being offered daily and usually only 2 maybe three-time slots a day, FDIC offers far more.
Also how the conference is run is quite different, at FDIC there is a set order of things you do. First no matter instructor, or attendee you check in at the main registration booth, after that as an instructor you head to the speaker room, then to the AV check room to ensure all of your audio-visual equipment is compatible with the FDIC equipment. If you need anything or have any questions there is someone on it at all times at FDIC.
At Firehouse it is entirely different, Instructor Check in, and attendee check in are separate, and there is no AV check. In fact I had no idea if my computer worked or not until about 5 mins until my class started when they finally brought a projector into my room. Needless to say I was nervous!
However the projector did arrive, my computer and presentation worked, and “Long Stretch Solutions” was in my opinion a great success! I say my opinion because unlike FDIC, Firehouse EXPO does not allow you to read your student evaluations after the class. I had about 70 students show up for class, and a lot of them came up afterward with some very positive comments.
I also feel that the type of attendee that comes to Firehouse is very different from those that come to FDIC. It seems to me (an opinion formulated over several years of attending both conferences) that the Exhibit hall and the night life is the main attraction, where as the education is more the attraction at FDIC. Both are good conferences but they are very different, and are marketed very different. In fact I feel that both of them could use a little bit of the other. If Firehouse would add a little more education it could raise some of its dwindling attendance numbers, and if FDIC added a little more Exhibit time (something I wrote about in my FDIC Review Part 2 http://averagejakeff.wordpress.com/2012/04/24/fdic-2012-review-part-2/) and have some events at the end fo the week (most of the big events happen midweek) they may attract some more of the “casual” attendees.
Now do not get me wrong it is not all bad about Firehouse EXPO the show has been around for a while and it is a formula that obviously works for them, I am just used to, and prefer a little more structure and organization. The people at Firehouse EXPO provided me with an AWESOME hotel room, a great gift, and the most important a chance to spread my fire service message to a wider audience. I am truly humbled and grateful, as when I was a 16-year-old sitting in Firefighter 1 class I never thought I would one day be teaching at this level.
I also got to see my good buddy Rhett Flietz AKA The FIre Critic (www.firecritic.com)
Rhett is one of the inspirations I had for blogging, he has also sent some product reviews my way, is a fellow Virginia fire service brother, and is just a cool guy to grab a beer with. One of the best nights I had at FDIC was when he, my brother, my dad, and the group traveling with Rhett all sat in the hotel lobby in Indy and drank beer and talked until about 1 am. Lets face it in the grand scheme of fire service bloggers, and minds I am a nobody, yet every time I see Rhett he makes me feel like a super star, I am grateful to know him.
After my class, me and the family headed to a well deserved family vacation in Myrtle Beach. It was fun, and I am glad I got to do it, even though I got a little sun burn!
So as usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!