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IAFC Annual Conference Delivers in Dallas

Fairfax, Va. – Fire and emergency service leaders, exhibitors, guests and industry partners from around the globe took over the city of Dallas as thousands participated in Fire-Rescue International (FRI), August 13-16 in Dallas. FRI is the annual conference of the IAFC.

There was a real buzz on the expo floor, with an increase in both education attendees and overall exhibit-hall participation. The expo hall featured more than 450 exhibitors showcasing their products and services for fire and emergency service leaders. In addition, the conference offered 157 educational sessions, featuring nearly 200 expert speakers.

The FRI 2014 Twitter account was filled with comments like these from attendees and exhibitors:

  • "Great conf. and expo, in Dallas! The trade show was awesome and the panel discussion as keynote amazing. Can't wait 4 Atl." – Deputy Chief Mike Mulligan
  • "#FRI14 was a smash hit! Thanks @IAFC for putting on great conference … Can't wait for next year!" – Target Solutions

According to Chief Bill Metcalf, who completed his term as IAFC president and chairman of the board on Aug. 16, the IAFC made several changes to FRI in response to feedback from attendees and partners.

"It was truly rewarding to see those changes being received so positively," said Metcalf, fire chief of North County Fire Protection District in San Diego, Calif. "We owe many thanks to the city of Dallas and especially Chief Louie Bright and the men and women of Dallas Fire-Rescue for their unwavering support of FRI 2014. Chief Bright and Dallas Fire-Rescue contributed significantly to the success of the conference and their support is greatly appreciated."

During his presidential address at the general session, Metcalf talked about his priority issues over the past 12 months: the growing leadership crisis and the lack of diversity and inclusiveness in the fire service, the growing threat of cancer and the unacceptable number of line-of-duty deaths.

"I challenge each and every one of us to not forget these major, vitally important issues that are before us and to commit to action—not just talk—to solve them in our generation of fire service leadership," Metcalf said.

In his address as the incoming IAFC president and chairman of the board, Chief Keith Bryant identified his primary focus as promoting the positions and priorities established by IAFC members and leaders. He cited a few issues facing the fire service he is particularly passionate about.

"We need to maintain our efforts to emphasize the critical role of the fire service in homeland security and in public health and safety at the national level," said Bryant, fire chief, Oklahoma City Fire Department. "I am committed to ensuring that the IAFC maintains its strong presence and influence in improving firefighter health and safety. … It's also past time that mental health in the fire service needs to be an equal priority to physical health."

Other IAFC officers installed for 2014-2015 are:

  • Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, Austin (Texas) Fire Department, as first vice president 
  • Chief John Sinclair, Kittitas Valley (Wash.) Fire Rescue, as second vice president

During the general session on Aug. 14, the IAFC's most prestigious awards were presented:

IAFC Awards

During the General Session on August 14, the IAFC’s most prestigious awards were presented, including the IAFC/Motorola Solutions' Benjamin Franklin Fire Service Award for Valor, the IAFC/Pierce Pierce Manufacturing Inc.’s Fire Chief of the Year awards, and the IAFC President’s Awards.

  • Ben Franklin Award - The IAFC and Motorola Solutions honored the Kaua'i Fire Department for its dramatic overnight rescue of 121 hikers. Medals were presented to Captain Gordon Tamura, Rescue Specialists Aaron Hawthorne and Adam Hussey, Rescue Operator Bryan Doo and helicopter pilot Clifton Cates. A plaque was presented to Kaua'i Chief Robert Westerman. For 45 years, the Ben Franklin award for valor has recognized first responders around the world for their expert training, leadership, heroic actions and safe practices.

  • Fire Chiefs of the Year – Chief Alan J. Martin of the Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Fire & Rescue Department was honored as Fire Chief of the Year, career department, and Chief Chris Barron of the Manchaca (Texas) Volunteer Fire Department was honored as Fire Chief of the Year, volunteer department. The award recognized Chief Martin and Chief Barron for their dedication and leadership in fire and emergency services.

  • President’s Awards – Chief Metcalf honored five individuals from the fire service who contributed in a significant way during the president's term.

    • Steve Kerber, director, Firefighter Safety Research Institute, Underwriter Laboratories; Dan Madrzykowski, Fire Protection Engineer, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Jason Averill, acting chief, Materials and Structural Systems Division, National Institute of Standards and Technology, were honored with President’s Awards for their leadership and contributions to the scientific knowledge-base that serves as the foundation for deployment, tactics and strategy in the fire service.

    • Chief Bob Roper (retired, Ventura County, Calif.), chair, IAFC Wildland Fire Policy Committee, and Chief Douglas “Mac” MacDonald (retired, Los Alamos County, N.M), adjunct member, IAFC Wildland Fire Policy Committee, were honored with President’s Awards for their leadership and contributions to enhancing wildland fire policy at the national level.

FRI 2014 was not all business. Attendees experienced the second-ever Firefighter Throwdown, the FRI Wellness Zone and the Health & Wellness Pavilion, a dodge-ball tournament and live demonstrations from Dallas Fire-Rescue.

Plans are already in the works to make FRI 2015 in Atlanta, August 26-29, an even greater experience for conference attendees.

About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more
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