Firehouse Expo 2013

. All I can say is “WOW”. Once again, Rhett ( and I had a GREAT trip. As always, it’s about the people we meet and surround ourselves with as well as with some of the things we are able to witness and accomplish. I have a lot to share with you from this one …

“Wrap Ups” from The Fire Critic HERE and HERE 

I’ll begin with our “entourage”.

Sometimes, Rhett and I will offer an open invitation to Brothers and Sisters wanting to travel with us. We usually have plenty of room in the “Blog Mobile” (mini-van) and a nice room.

With travel and lodging covered, the offer allows many the opportunity to attend some of these events that they may not have had otherwise.

For Firehouse Expo, 2 Brothers joined us .. Andrew Isaacs and Josh Orr. Andrew rode up and then joined the MN8-FoxFire “Boots On The Street” members while Josh stayed with us.

Josh is a volunteer firefighter (Lieutenant) for Roanoke County’s Catawba Station #4. They are first due to my house. He has also helped me out on the farm. This would be his first trip to one of what Rhett and I consider a “major” show. Josh impressed us in several ways.

He got to see our inner circle of friends. He got to meet and hang out with some of the most influential people in the fire service and he handled himself very well…. HE LISTENED.

Josh heard MANY great conversations between some well respected members and that’s the key … HE HEARD THEM!

After we would introduce him to someone, he would then stand there and simply “take in” the conversation. Later that night, he’d ask us about what he had heard.

HE LEARNED. He learned in more ways than one. That’s what these trips are all about!

What impressed me most was that Josh signed up for several of the Expo classes. Not only did he sign up … he attended them!

We didn’t have to tell Josh to do that. He took it upon himself and showed initiative. He said, “I hope you guys don’t mind but I signed up for a few classes while we’re there”.

He could have easily just hung out on the exhibit floor. He could have just hung out at the “Bashes” each evening but he didn’t. He made the most of the trip and I’m proud of him although I’m also a little worried that we may have worn him out ..LOL.

Thanks to Josh for tagging along  and for everything he did to help us out throughout the weekend.

So, my time during the days was spent with my MN8 FoxFire family on the exhibit floor.

Although this show seemed a little smaller and slower than in the past, we still seemed to have a decent flow of traffic through the booth.

The reason for that is simple .. it’s our products! Contact us to learn how we can help you with VISIBILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY and DISORIENTATION.

MN8 FoxFire Web site

MN8 FoxFire on Face Book

Our nights were just as busy.

On Thursday, following a GREAT dinner with the NFFF (National Fallen Firefighters Foundation); we headed over to the FOOLS Bash.

FOOLS stands for the Fraternal Order Of Leatherheads Society. CLICK HERE to learn more about FOOLS and to find a local chapter near you.

 We were a little shocked to find that we were the only members wearing our leather helmets (Phenix Fire Helmets) but the crowd was still great.

Recently Retired Captain Morris from FDNY’s Rescue 1 was there along with Ray McCormick, Robb Wiedmann and several others. Our good friend and Brother Stanley Jaworski was on hand with his camera to capture several great shots … check them out in the link below…

Expo 2013 FOOLS Bash photos from Stanley Jaworski

The next day, Andrew and Mary Arnold from Box Alarm Leather LLC would join us in the booth. Box Alarm makes our “Illuminating Radio Straps” but have also been long time friends.

The made the custom fronts that Rhett and I wear on our helmets. If you haven’t seen their work, you should seriously check them out.

Once again, they came bearing gifts. Rhett got a brand new Fire Critic custom front while I got a set of custom suspenders.

These suspenders were more than “custom” and I’m not sure how to even explain it.

Not only were they red, instead of a “V” or “T” style back, they used a “front” or helmet shield design.

What was even more impressive was what they did for me with that shield.

Inside, they placed a picture of my brother Jack along with a special message.

“Hey Brother … Until we meet again”

They even painted it in his favorite Carolina Blue.

They took that piece and placed it inside the shield.

Neatly tucked away and hidden from view.

Hidden from everyone but me. I’ll know it’s there and will always be carrying him with me.

I’m crying now just writing this … imagine my emotion when they gave it to me on the exhibit floor.

Again I’ll mention the caliber of people Rhett and I surround ourselves with …  it’s beyond humbling to be associated with folks like this. Their compassion, thoughtfulness and dedication to the Brotherhood and Fire Service as a whole is unparalleled.

I don’t what I’ve done to deserve friends like this nor am I sure that I’ll ever be able to repay everything they’ve done for and given me. I’ll start by saying THANK YOU ! 

You can thank them too or at least let them know what you think of what they did for me. Check them out at the links below …

Click for Box Alarm Leather Web Site or Face Book  

The entire weekend was actually emotional for me. So many Brothers and Sisters came up to talk about Jackson and my sharing the experience of his loss.

One of those Brothers was Warren Cersley.

Warren is a Battalion Chief in Richmond, Va and also runs the Face Book Group “In these boots” .

Warren reached out to me early in my grieving process and has been a huge source of inspiration and strength.

Meeting him in person was an HONOR.

He has 39 years on the job and is still going strong.

Like with Andrew and Mary from Box Alarm, I’m not sure what to say to Warren or how I will ever repay him for the support he’s given me over these past 7 months. If you haven’t checked out his Face Book Group … PLEASE do. Then you’ll see what Im talking about …

Face Book Group… “In These Boots”

On Friday night, Rhatt and I held another “Fire Critic / Meet Up”.


The attendance was GREAT and there was plenty of Brother and Sisterhood shared.

Some was obvious to the group while others maybe not so much.

Rhett and I arranged a discount price on beer and then bought the first $600 worth for the group. It’s kind of our way of saying “Thank You” to our friends, fans and followers.

The free beer was obvious. What wasn’t so obvious was someone was also paying for food.

Kelly Mulkins was largely responsible for that.

Kelly is from Rolyn .  Rolyn is a Disaster Recovery/Restoration Company based in Rockville, MD.

We had never met before but within minutes I felt like I had known her for years.

She pulled me off to the side to tell me about some of the impact Rhett and I have been making on the Fire Service as a whole. She also talked to me about Jack’s death and the impact of my sharing that experience so openly. Her buying some of the food was her way of saying thank you… HOW AWESOME IS THAT?

Again … the people we surround ourselves with! Thanks again to Kelly and Rolyn!

Once again, we teamed up The Sons of the Flag Burn Foundation for the Meet Up ( find them on Face Book HERE ).

These Brothers are doing some AMAZING work and Rhett and I are HONORED to be associated with them. How can we go wrong surrounded by a Dallas Firefighter, a Navy Seal and FDNY’s R2 Robb Wiedmann?

More pictures from Stanley Jaworski HERE

Thanks to several of our good friends, we were once again able to raise some money for the Foundation.

Several items were donated and later raffled off with all the proceeds (over $1,000) going to the Sons of the Flag Foundation! Thanks to everyone who donated an item as well as to all those participated in the raffle. Here’s a list of contributors …

Box Alarm (Fire Cam),Onesource Fire RescueFirefighter Art (Artist Jodi Monroe)Firehouse Dolls CalendarRemember it in Glassbooks by Kurt KammHooks N Irons Training

So THANKS again to everyone. To everyone I met on the floor, at the Meet Up or where ever while at Expo 2013. Thanks for all the GREAT conversations. Thanks for the Brother and Sisterhood … you make it all worth it!

I know I’ve left out a ton of stuff and will try to catch it in following posts. I’ll get back with that as soon as I can … until I do … stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines