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In three weeks, Onvia will head to Indianapolis, IN to attend the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), the world's largest fire training-based conference and exhibition dedicated to delivering the finest training available to the men and women of the fire service. With over 900 exhibitors and 150 classroom sessions, it’s sure to be an exciting and educational week for all involved.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, 97 firefighters lost their lives in 2013 while on duty in the United States - the worst year for fatalities since 1999, not including the 2001 World Trade Center deaths. The largest share of deaths in 2013 (56) occurred while firefighters were operating on the fire ground including 30 fatalities from wildfires, a plant explosion and a motel fire. 2013 serves as a grim reminder that continued training is an important aspect of a firefighter’s job to prevent such tragedies from reoccurring. Conferences like FDIC teach current firefighting techniques and show the latest advancements in technology to protect fireman while on duty.

Using Technology to Train for Fires

One of the classroom topics at this year’s FDIC show is using technology as training aids. A trend popping up in recent years is the use of simulators to train firefighters on possible situations they might encounter.  

ExampleOnvia’s Project Center shows that in December of 2014, Harris County Emergency Services District No. 17 in Houston, TX recently published a bid for the installation of a new fire training simulator.

ExampleNew York City Fire Department recently issued a bid in February 2015 for preventative maintenance and repair of their live fire system which includes simulators.

Live fire simulators can be used to practice everything from fighting fires to driving fire trucks in dangerous conditions. In the past, fire departments used abandoned buildings to practice in, but this was an expensive method and created an unsafe experience.

ExampleOnvia’s Vendor Center shows Draeger Safety, Inc won a contract in 2013 for $44,800 to provide a fire flashover simulator to Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

Using technology in firefighting is an increasing trend as better advancements become available. Everything from thermal imaging cameras, tracking systems on air packs and enhanced software for computers used at the scene of a fire to drones to identify hot spots in a structure before the firefighters make entry. There is some hesitancy to using technology for training from some veteran firefighters who are used to hands-on drills. An article published in FireRescue Magazine highlights the fact that new recruits are more well-versed in technology but don’t get as much experience with hands-on drills compared to veteran firefighters who excel at the hands-on drills and might struggle with the technology component. For firefighters it’s a balance to use technology and make sure their teams gets the hands-on training they need to be successful.   

Fitness in Firehouses

Simulator training is just one part of the training firefighters receive. They must also be in top physical shape and pass yearly exams. Some city fire departments have even included incentive based bonuses to firefighters pay to keep them in shape. The National Fire Protection Association has several standards that focus on the health risks to firefighters. Fire departments need to create a health and fitness program and there are medical requirements that every new and current firefighter must meet. Some departments have even adopted a program called Heart-Healthy Firefighter which aims to prevent heart attacks through fitness, nutrition and health awareness. 

ExampleOnvia’s Spending Forecast Center shows the City of Cape Coral in Florida plans to spend $5,000 a year until 2019 on fitness equipment purchases for their fire department.

ExampleThe City of Dothan in Alabama plans to completely renovate their Firehouse Fitness Center in 2018 and the agency has set aside $30,000 for the project.

ExampleOnvia’s Project Center shows the Orange County Fire Authority in California recently published a bid in November of 2014 for the maintenance and repair of their fitness equipment.  

For more information about how Onvia’s government business intelligence tools can help government vendors and contractors find opportunities in the firefighter training and fitness market, contact Scott May who will be walking the show floor at FDIC 2015. To set up a time to meet Scott, he can be easily reached at smay@onvia.com. With so many firefighting related expert trainers and fire industry innovators at one event, FDIC 2015 is bound to be a remarkable show - hope to see you there!