Central Indiana may benefit most from international conference

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This week, tens of thousands of firefighters are in Indianapolis for lifesaving training. 

FDIC (Fire Department Instructor's Conference) has been held here for 18 years, but this year is different. Lessons are being learned from recent events—and those benefiting the most are first responders from Central Indiana.

It's training that's as realistic as it gets: firefighters exit a flashover chamber, their helmets have special insulated covers--necessary during this exercise, so they don't melt in the 900 degree room.

"It's about saving lives," said Lt. Ray McCormack, an FDIC instructor and member the New York City Fire Department. "It's about being able to get in a structure, get out of a structure, ventilate the structure. All those things that firefighters do across the country."

FDIC is the biggest firefighter convention in the world: 30,000 men and women from more than a dozen countries, including China, France, Sweden and Germany.  But some of the biggest beneficiaries may actually be firefighters from right here in Central Indiana.

"When this conference leaves and is gone next week, I can guarantee you, not only my department but other departments have seen things here and they're immediately going to go back to their communities and start working that training in their own communities", said Wayne Township Fire Department Capt. Michael Pruitt.

Training and lessons this week will be learned about what went right in Boston. 

"Someone needs to take charge," said Lt. Steven Hamilton, an instructor from the Ft. Jackson Fire Department in Columbia, South Carolina.  He'll be using the aftermath of the marathon bombing as an example of what first responders need to do. 

"If you look at videos, and I actually expected criticism from this, you can see in the initial bomb video, there are fire and law enforcement officers who are standing around talking on their radio as opposed to helping victims," said Hamilton. "That's a good thing."

Because, amid the chaos, there needs to be order.

"Someone needs to step back, take control, advise other emergency responders what has happened, what is going on, what do we need," Hamilton said.

And everywhere, in every class, at every exercise, Central Indiana firefighters will have a front row seat.

"They get to work with the crème de la crème of instructors," said FDIC organizer Bobby Halton. "We only have so many slots. This is all sold out. You couldn't get into this class now if you wanted to, unless you happen to be one of the contributing fire departments".

It's a contribution that has paid off for Central Indiana for nearly 2 decades.

Link to Fire Department Instructor's Conference (FDIC)