The difference a year makes … Firehouse Expo 2012

Rhett and I are safely home from Firehouse Expo 2012 …. it was another GREAT trip!

I don’t know how it continues to happen or if and when it will ever “level off” but, so far; every trip we make ends up being better than the last … both personally and professionally.
Once again, we were traveling with Zach Green and the  MN8-FoxFire team.

Zach, the owner and President of the company; said something to me the other day that caught me off guard. He reminded me that this trip would be our 1 year Anniversary. I had never thought of it that way. Actually, I almost didn’t believe it. It seems like we’ve been together much longer than that.

Turns out, Zach was right; it’s only been a year. Back at FDIC 2011, Zach was stalking me and Rhett for a “product review” of MN8-FoxFire. I’m glad he found us! Fast forward to Firehouse Expo 2011 and Zach found himself in a bind. He needed some help in the booth and I just so happened to be there and available.

I went to work in the booth the next  day and we haven’t slowed down since! It’s been an amazing journey.

Follow on Face Book click HERE

Our conversation and the success of this trip has got me thinking of how far we’ve come over the last year … me / Rhett and MN8-FoxFire.

2011 was my first time ever to Firehouse Expo ( Read my review HERE ). It was also the place where Rhett and I would make our 1st 911 Memorial Stair Climb (see that post HERE ). We’ve since completed 5 climbs and have even made one in the shadows of the new Freedom Tower with founding members of the Stair Climb committee  (click HERE for that post! )

News coverage of this year’s 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb in Baltimore by clicking  HERE .

Last year, the MN8-FoxFire booth was busy … this year, it was PACKED! Once again, the MN8-FoxFire booth was the focus of attention on the exhibit floor.

It’s apparent that “the word” is getting out about MN8-FoxFire and their amazing products. We sold more in day #1 of Expo 2012 than we did in all 3 days of the 2011 show.

Learn how to join Team MN8-FoxFire by clicking “HERE” .

Of course, Rhett and I draw plenty of attention by ourselves. It’s hard not to when we’re walking around in kilts, structural boots and leather helmets.

We stand out in the crowd…. and WE WANT TO.  It’s who we are and what we do. For us, it’s a great marketing / networking tool. Folks stop us in the isles (and out in the street for that matter) just to talk and take photos.  They invite us into their booths or stop us to question our purpose.

It’s that image, the  exposure or “popularity” (if you will) that’s helped us create a new site / venture over this past year as well ….

Click HERE to check out Firefighter Product Review

It’s a great site (even if it is ours). Not only do we give “our” review of the products up for review, we also give the “user” or readers the chance to “score” or rate the product themselves.

Last year, we blended into the crowd. Nobody noticed what we had on or who we were working for. Nobody gave us a 2nd look. This year … totally opposite.

Take our Custom Fronts (helmet shields) for example. EVERYBODY wanted to know where we got em. It was a GREAT opportunity to tell them about Andrew and Mary Arnold from over at Box Alarm Leather LLC  (see their review HERE ).

Our Custom Kilts were also a HUGE hit and point of conversation. When we needed a kilt and wanted it “our” way … there was only one company out there that was willing to work with us … ALT Kilt . We love telling the story of how all the bigger companies turned us down yet ALT Kilt was willing to go the extra mile.

This year, companies are approaching us for Product Reviews. We’ve got several in the “Que” awaiting publishing and received just as many more last week at Expo. Be sure to hit the link above to follow and look for future reviews for items such as Dragon Fire Gloves , ESS Eye Protection, Black Helmet’s German flavored design (Kampf gegen Feuer), the 2013 Firehouse Dolls Calendar and much, much more.

Click HERE to have us review your product










Here’s another example of the difference a year can make. In 2011, one of my fans / followers; Daniel Lawson came to the booth.  For whatever reason, Daniel wanted to meet me,  more importantly; he wanted me to meet his new born son … talk about humbling! He explained how he loved reading and following along with the “Buckaroo’s” growth / adventures when he’s included in a post.

This year, Daniel and his son returned to the booth for a follow up photo/visit … man has that little fella grown!  I was also excited  to learn that Daniel and his wife are expecting their 2nd child …CONGRATULATIONS!   I guess my camera lens will have to grow along with his family lol.

In the end, THAT’S what it’s all about … making new friendships …lasting friendships …. sharing and promoting  BROTHERHOOD… it’s what keeps us going! Thanks for stopping by Daniel … looking forward to next year’s photo.

The best example of “the difference a year can make” that we found while at Firehouse Expo 2012 came out of New York City. You see, FDNY’s Rescue 2 had a booth set up. That in itself is not a big deal. What was a big deal was who was in the booth …. Rescue 2’s Firefighter Robert Weidmann!

You may remember Firefighter Weidmann’s name from a fire in Brooklyn, NY back on December 19, 2011. That blaze injured 5 members of the FDNY (two out of Rescue 2  Weidmann and Gersbeck). Weidmann was the most seriously injured of the five. He received  burns over 40% of his body, including his face, head and hands.  His escape was captured on video! The arrow in the picture left is believed to be Weidmann making his way to the window.


Read my original post on that fire HERE

He suffered and fought through months of grueling rehab and recovery. In true Firefighter fashion, he showed the same heart and determination after the fire as he did while engulfed in flame. HE SURVIVED!

He survived and he made it to Firehouse Expo where Rhett, Zach and I had the HONOR of shaking his hand!

It was a HUGE honor for us and the highlight of my trip! Brother Weidmann is a TRUE firefighter … an IRONFIREMAN. Even in the middle of that fire, he was teaching the rest of us valuable lessons. He had on his gear … ALL OF IT and, he was wearing it correctly. He was physically fit and in the shape / condition to make that escape. He had the situational and positional awareness to find his way out. Captain Flaherty said he fought with the strength of 10 men during his recovery and on Friday, July 20th he was standing in Baltimore, Md…. YOU CAN’T TEACH HEART!

Back in February, Rhett, Zach and I solicited your help in raising money for Brother Weidmann and Rescue 2’s “MayDay Fund”. The fund is designed to help support injured members and their families. Your support was overwhelming  and the 3 of us (Rhett, Zach and I) then had the honor of hand delivering the check in your name. READ THAT POST HERE .

During our visit in Baltimore, Brother Weidmann asked us to pass along his heart felt appreciation for all the support he, his family and the members of Rescue 2 received. You’re efforts were NOT in vane! As soon as he returns to duty, Rhett, Zach and I will head back to Brooklyn for a follow up visit and a full report on his recovery…. the difference a year makes!

Rhett has made some “strides” over the past year as well ….not in the same manner as Brother Weidmann but, he too; is showing some heart.

Last year, I was the only one in the group who would ride the mechanical bull at PBR Baltimore. This year, “Fire Boy” decided he’d give it a try.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that you don’t ride bulls while wearing a kilt. I also failed to mention riding while wearing your wife’s socks may not be the best idea either.

Although I don’t believe in protective head wear for professional bull riders, I did think it was kind of cool that Rhett wore his leather helmet while riding. Of course I still don’t think he topped my ride. I didn’t do it in a kilt nor did I wear my leather. What I did do was ride WITH a PBR girl!!   See that post and watch the VIDEO HERE !

It seems he’s also softened up his feelings for his true internet father, Dave Statter.

Last year at Expo, it seemed as if they couldn’t get along.

Bickering and arguing over who the TRUE  “King of Blogs” is.

They even argued about the true identity of the Fire Critic and if he actually even existed at all.

Once again, I had to step in and, apparently; my tactics worked ….Just look at em now…. arm in arm. Embracing in public. You should have seen em holding hands and skipping up to the PBR bar …LMAO


In the end, Firehouse Expo 2012 was a HUGE success for us and …. we had a BLAST! The best part was meeting so many friends … old and new. Thanks to everyone who dropped by the booth for a FoxFire demo or to just say hello. Thanks as well to the Northern Va FOOLS as associate sponsors for hosting the Brotherhood Bash … it lived up to it’s name despite the rain!

If you’ve never attended Firehouse Expo, make your plans for 2013 NOW … Rhett and I will be there and I CAN’T WAIT! Check out what Rhett and Zach had to say about the trip and then I’ll leave ya with a few more pics from our Baltimore adventures …

Click HERE for The Fire Critic’s Firehouse Expo “wrap up”


 Read Zach’s post on the trip by clicking HERE


Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines