says goodbye to Washington DC

WOW …  What a trip !

They say “all good things must come to an end” so I left DC this morning at 6am and headed back to the farm.

I hated to leave. The 2011 Congressional Fire Service Institute Dinner  was AWESOME.

I knew that this was going to be rushed trip but also one that I wouldn’t want to miss.

This was not my first trip to DC but it was my first CFSI Dinner.

I still can’t figure out why I was invited but obviously, someone thinks pretty highly of me.

I had my suspicions all along but after I arrived, there was NO DOUBT. is climbing the ladder!

They put me up in the Presidential Suite!

I figured it must be the Presidential Suite because they even had a picture of The White House above the bed …LOL

All kidding aside, SPECIAL THANKS again to Rhett’s sister Vanessa for hooking me up with a great room for the night. If you’re ever in DC and need a clean, comfortable hotel with FABULOUS service, go to the Starwood Hotels, Four Point Sheraton .

So, I got in to town, grabbed a quick shower, changed and headed out for the Hospitality rooms before the dinner. Paul Andrews and Mary Valline  of  Go Forward Media  met me in the lobby and gave me the FULL TOUR. Mary is the “Director of Events” while Paul is the VP of e-media Sales and Development. This basic means Mary sets everything up and Paul knows EVERONE there! LOL


The Hospitality rooms were full of our Nation’s Fire service leaders. Not just Chief Officers and legislators but Fire Service Product manufactures as well. Like I said … Paul knew em all and introduced me to each one.

I was fortunate and honored to meet the likes of the Lovely Mrs. Kimberly Henry who is the VP of Sales and Marketing for PBI Performance Products Inc.  I also met Mr. Ken Creese who is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Sutphen. The list goes on and on and I was humbled and honored to meet each and every one of them.

Later in the evening, while in the restroom; the gentleman standing beside me spoke. “I LOVE that mustache”. I expressed my gratitude and glanced over (having to be careful looking over considering the place and position we were in ..LOL) and much to my surprise … there stood Randolph Mantooth ! Johnny Gauge. Johnny Gauge of  EMERGENCY!   HOLY COW !!… and he “loves” my mustache!

When I got back to our table, good friend and fellow Network Blogger Mike Ward was standing there. As we were shaking hands, I was so excited I had to tell him (Mike posts on FireGeezer who does the weekly segment Sunday Emergency) “I just met, talked to and “took a leak” beside Johnny Gauge!”. Of course, Mike immediately tweeted on how he sincerely hoped I had washed my hands!  LMAO ….

I also had the chance to meet and speak with several folks whom I have followed and admire but have never had the opportunity to met in person.

Ray McCormick walked up and introduced himself. RAY McCormick!  I have followed Ray for some time now and have a lot of respect for the work he has done to move our profession forward.

Erich Roden was also in attendance and another Jake that I have followed and admired for some time now. Erich and Ray are boththe  Senior Editor and Publishers of Urban Firefighter Magazine.

Urban Firefighter Magazine is an online publication that is a  MUST READ! If you haven’t checked them out yet … DO IT NOW!  Trust me.

So, after “rubbing elbows” with all of those folks, we headed up to the dinner.

The room itself was awe inspiring for a guy like me.

 I went to the table number listed on my ticket.

Actually, there didn’t seem to be a bad seat in the house. I introduced myself and took my place at the table.

Then, much to my surprise (and like Rodney Dangerfield); Dave Iannone came to inform me that I was in the wrong seat … I was suppose to be at his table … the “FRONT ROW”! LOL

Now we weren’t on the front row but we were pretty damn close. WOW!

I was seated beside Jeff  of Elsevier Publishing.

WHAT A GREAT GUY! I have been around Jeff several times now while working with Firefighter Netcast for Fire/Rescue Magazine and he is an absolute honor to be associated with. A CLASS ACT !  I was never told, nor did I ask who paid for my seat but I feel like and assume that it was Jeff and Elsevier Publishing. Thanks to him and them for allowing me this opportunity. I hope I represented myself and our table well.

 Just like the hospitality room, my table was full of “high profile” and big names within the Fire Service.


Even Bill Carey made the event!

Bill is the “man behind the curtain” for the Network and also writes his own blog   Back Step Fire Fighter

Bill is such a fun guy to hang with! A WILD one this guy !! The only bad thing is that you can hardly get a word in edge wise around him … LMAO!!!!! If you know Bill, you’ll see the humor in that comment.

Bill Carey is very quiet and  shy. Hidden, behind this facade;  there is one of the most educated and intelectual men I have ever met. He’s “crazy smart” in a way I can relate to.

Bill and I had a conversation a little while back about a post he made. The post was about the Arlington Cemetery . The teams who take care of escorting the bodies of our fallen hero’s to their final resting place and an “unofficial”  program for our wounded warriors to rehab on horseback. We both share a love of horses so I understood his perspective and direction.  The irony and his educated grasp of literature in this post is awe inspiring.

Fact: Safety Is Relative. How Do I Know?
I Spend Time With Folks Who Have Been Shot At.

Our table had many other Talets as well. Tim Sendelbach, Editor in Chief; of Fire Rescue Magazine.  CHRIS HEBERT ….  that’s  ***CHRIS HEBERT***  from the Go Forward Media and the Network was also there and seated just one seat away. Special thanks to Chris for all he’s done to help me and this site reach the point we have. 

 Dave Iannone, President and CEO of Go Forward Media was obviously there … he’s the reason we (or I anyway) was there. Special thanks to Dave as well for all his efforts in bringing forward.

Of course, no event such as this would be the same without Tiger Schmittendorf. Tiger was his “normal self”. The jokes .. “yankee” accent and slow eating habbits.

Tiger is one of our next great leaders within the Fire Service. I say that knowing that he already is … “next” may not be the right word.


The meal was as good as the company!   FANCY !

Just as I had feared .. 4 or 5 forks, a bunch of spoons and several knives. I just sat and waited for Jeff to pick one up and followed his lead.

The menu …  Bread … some kind of red (maybe tomato) soup with baccon (the baccon made it work) … a salad (a “hunk” of lettuce, a slice of tomato and walnuts dribbled with dressing) started the feast. After, Prime Rib and somekind of seafood with rice (???) squash, asparagus and yada, yada yada.

Jeff bought several bottles of wine for the table. Red and white and both in a corked bottle .. not from a box LOL.

Each plate looked like something from one of those cooking shows on TV …

They even make ketchup and mustard designs on the plates … LOL 


There were several awards presented along with many great speakers. It was refreshing to know that, while our government was literally facing closing shop; there are still people in Washington who understand and respect the services we provide.

After dinner, there was more “meet and greet” with the attendes ….

A highlight of the night was for me to meet one of our local Chiefs.

Jack Jones is the Chief of Bedford County Fire and Rescue Services

Bedford is a large County close to our City. It is basicly a combination Department / County that has a diverse population and development.

Chief Jones is a young and agressive Chief who has brought a lot of positive change to Bedford County and their delivery of Fire and Emergency Medical Services. In times of lay offs, brown outs  and budget crunches, Chief Jones finds ways to bring quality training and programs to his members so that they can provide better services to the citizens of Bedford County! Great job and keep up the good work Chief! It was an honor to finally shake your hand!

So, that about sums up the night. A couple of beers at the Irish pub and back the the hotel room for a few hours sleep.

Up at 5 am .. a shower and pack and checked out by 6am. There must be a TON of bankers in Washington because apparently everyone up there keeps “banker hours”. LOL … If ya want to get around in DC without hastle … do it at 6am.

So, I made it home, safe and sound and drove straight to the Tech Farm to meet some folks and start my days work. The best part of it all was that the Buckaroo met me there and hung with me all day.

He got a new toy tractor (because he’s spoiled) and decided he’d move gravel ….

LMAO … he thinks he move the whole pile !

He played long and hard enough to do it ……..

That was the best part of the trip … comming home to him ….. safe and sound.

That said, not all of our Brothers from Washing DC had that same oppurtunity this morning. Early Saturday morning, 5  of our brothers  were injured (burned) while fighting a house fire in NE Washington….. one critical. Dave Statter has the story and complete datails (with video and audio)    HERE .

PLEASE keep these brothers in you thoughts and prayers!

Ok, I’ll check back as soon as I get the chance …. until then, stay safe and in house!

Captain Wines