I just returned from the Fire Expo in Harrisburg, Pa. It was another GREAT trip, full of BROTHERHOOD but not without it’s ups and downs. It was almost like a roller coaster ride … let me try to explain.
To begin with, although Harrisburg is a show Rhett and I have been wanting to attend for some time now, it was not on our schedule this year. As it turned out, Zach Green and our MN8 Fox Fire team really needed us so we began scrambling. I was able to work it out but Rhett wasn’t. Once again this year, I would be traveling without him.
The good news was that my wife was able to take some time off so she could go in his place. Donna has never traveled with us (or me) to one of these shows before so I was excited to get to show her what they are like and everything we do.
Donna and I loaded up the “Blog Mobile” and pointed her North….. we wouldn’t make it far though. About 15 miles into the trip, I stopped at the only stop light we would encounter between the house and Harrisburg. When I stopped, smoke was visible from under the hood, right at the windshield.
She says to me (as if I haven’t noticed it) … “I think the van is over heating”. My reply was simple… “nope”.
“We’re never gonna make it …. this thing is over heating already …. I’m telling ya” she says.
As the light turns green, I tell her … “Honey … it’s NOT over heating … IT’S ON FIRE”. You should have seen the look on her face…LOL. I pulled into the store parking lot just through the light and we get out. I popped the hood and she was rolling. Donna was about to panic and asked me “what are we going to do?”.
Calmly, I told her “calm down … I’m a fireman … look in the cooler and get me a beer” (I had a cooler packed for Expo). Then, her panic turned to anger …. “You’re NOT going to stand here and drink a beer while this van burns up!” LMAO. I didn’t pack or have any water (or an extinguisher) …. I need SOMETHING to put this thing out I quickly explained. Get me a beer and start emptying our luggage.
So there I am …. shaking and opening beers to extinguish the fire. You can imaging the look on Captain Week’s face as Roanoke County’s Wagon 10 rolled in!
Turns out, that while sitting in the driveway since FDIC; a bird had decided to use the engine compartment as a place for nesting. It was turning out to be a GREAT start of our trip!
We arranged for a tow truck and switched vehicles to get back on the road. We were running beside a gasoline tanker as it blew a trailer tire and sat for hours in bumper to bumper stopped traffic due to a crash just south of Harrisburg but we eventually made it to our hotel.
The next morning, the MN8 FoxFire Team would assemble on the exhibit hall floor for the first of three busy days.
Once again, we had Andrew Arnold and the Box Alarm Leather Team in the booth so it was almost like we were twice as busy.
Box Alarm and MN8 FoxFire have teamed up to deliver yet another GREAT product! With Box Alarm’s quality work (and a LIFETIME GAURANTEE), using 8-10 oz bridle leather (tanned in the USA), 3M’s flame resistant reflective fabric combined with MN8′s advanced illumination technology, these two “by firefighters, for firefighters” companies have delivered one of the best radio strap combination packages on the market! We debuted them at FDIC and SOLD OUT! They were just as popular in Harrisburg. To learn more about this new product, CLICK HERE or HERE .
I’m always VERY busy giving demos while in the booth but I also get to spend a few minutes talking with hundreds of Brother and Sister firefighters. I think that’s one of the things I like the most about working these shows … meeting and making new friends within the Fire Service.
Donna and I got to spend the evening and share a meal with the Brothers and Sisters of Colonial Park Fire Company.
I have to tell ya …. these Brothers and Sisters “get it”.
When Lt. Mike Rodkey invited us out, I wasn’t sure if we could pull it off. When “on the road” we (the MN8 FoxFire Team) usually travel as a team and it’s difficult to drop in and visit a company with a crew of 8-10. On top of that, we had about 4 separate invitations / obligations for that evening and we were already worn out from the long days work in the booth. All things considered, Zach and I decided to split the team and try to cover as many obligations as possible. I was glad I made it to Colonial Park!
My visit started off with a tour of their house and rigs. “Cheech”, a Colonial Park “live-in” member; rolled out the red carpet. You could see the PRIDE in the company and it’s members as he showed me every little detail. Everything was neat, clean and in order …. another example of PRIDE.
Sam is like the 2nd or 3rd most ACTIVE Senior member of the Colonial Park Fire Company with 50 YEARS OF SERVICE!
Sam showed me around their trophy / display room where they housed one of their earlier pieces along with numerous trophies, photos etc.
He also shared some of their HISTORY and TRADITION with me. I could have listened to his stories all week! IT WAS AN HONOR meeting him and having the opportunity to hear his stories!
London Broil on the grill …… and I mean MELT IN YOUR MOUTH London Broil!
There’s something very humbling to me to get to sit down at a table with a group of firefighters and their wives, husbands and family and share a meal. A meal that they paid for out of their pockets and yet decided to share with me. It’s humbling because I know the sacrifices they’ve made to be able to do this. I’ve shared in it. It’s like we’ve known each other all along even though we’ve never met. It’s BROTHERHOOD.
We took a few photos and I got the opportunity to shake each of their hands and thank them before Donna and I had to head out to our next meeting. I would like to say to them once again … THANK YOU!
Eventually, we made it back to our hotel room for a few hours sleep. Before we knew it, we were back on the floor at Expo. The 2nd day was as busy as the first. Once again I got to meet several GREAT Brothers and Sisters during and between my demos.
This Bash was hosted by the Progress Fire Company … just down the road from Colonial Park.
These Brothers and Sisters know how to throw a party!
The place was PACKED and we had a BLAST!!
I wasn’t the only one wearing a kilt (BunkerKilt.com) but I was shocked to see that I was the only one wearing my helmet (Phenix Helmets) . I do have to admit that I wasn’t the best looking one there in a kilt. I can say that for certain because the Girls of Fire House Dolls were also on hand. We took a few pictures together and I even got to review their 2014 calendar … TRUST me … use the link I provided and look them up … yo’r gonna LOVE the new calendar!
Stan Jaworski was also on hand with his camera. Stan is well known for his photos and I’m personally a big fan. Check out some of his pictures from the 2013 Progress Bash HERE and find him on Face Book HERE .
There were also some Pipes and Drums in attendance. I never caught their name nor learned if they were like a “renegade” bunch or not but either way, they did a very nice job! Here’s some video…
So it was another late night to bed and an early rise for day #3 of Expo. Again we were shocked at just how busy we remained. Just like days 1 and 2, we got to meet so many dedicated Brothers and Sisters.
Word got out to 14 year old Ian Swarr that our Team was a little overwhelmed at our first Harrisburg Expo so he came to the Rescue.
Zach and the crew actually got to have dinner with Ian the night before and I thankfully were able to convince him into helping out on Sunday.
Ian is a true inspiration and I’m honored to call him my friend. He even took Donna around the Expo floor to introduce her to all his friends and “show her the ropes”
I’m not sure exactly what they did but they both returned with a sack full of swag and smiles on their faces …lol. If you want to talk about “heart” and meet a GREAT young man… look no further.
There’s NO WAY I can mention everyone I got to see and spend some time with this weekend. I won’t even try because I know I will leave someone out. There are a few however that I want to give a “shout out” to and I think I know a way to encompass the rest.
Once again, we got to spend some time with the guys from Fire Cam. These guys are AWESOME (even Dave Statter hangs out in their booth). Rob Schield and Cris Burch are another example of guys who “get it”. If you’re not familiar with Fire Cam and their products, YOU SHOULD BE.
Another name I want to drop is Clayton Murphy of Crosstitched. Clayton was also set up at Harrisburg and spent some time with us. For those of you who don’t know, Crosstitched is the designer and supplier of the IronFiremen / Fire Critic “Hey Brother” shirts. Crosstitched is another Firefighter owned company that needs (and deserves) our support. Clayton is a SUPER guys and ALL of his designs ROCK! Wait until you order some of his shirts … as soon as you see the box he ships in, you’ll know he’s a class act! He also does CUSTOM shirts !
I apologize for not listing everyone I met and spent time with. It is also nearly impossible to include all the pictures we took. I did put together a small photo album on Face Book. Take a look and feel free to TAG YOURSELF if included in one of the shots. Also, please share and / or tag me if you have a photo of us from Expo. Use the link below to view the album …
I have a few more stories to share with from Expo but I’ll catch them in a later post. There have been a couple LODD’s over the weekend and storms are tearing through the several states leaving huge paths of destruction and several dead. Please keep all those affected including the Brothers and Sisters responding to these incidents in your thoughts and prayers.
Stay SAFE and in House!
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