Fire instructors convention kicks off today

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The largest firefighter conference in the world kicks off today in Indianapolis. Men and women from every state and more than a dozen countries will converge on Lucas Oil Stadium downtown for the Fire Department Instructors Conference.

Opening ceremonies kick off today, but thousands of firefighters have been here since this past weekend, conducting many types of training. The so-called "hot" classes simulate real-life scenarios.

The home of the Colts is now the home of some of the newest and most innovative firefighting equipment around. Thirty-thousand firefighters will be not only looking at much of this gear, in many cases, they'll be trying it out to figure out what works and what needs to be tweaked.

This week new techniques will be taught and old ones will be practiced over and over.

"The amazing thing about it," said FDIC organizer Bobby Halton, "is that everyone contributes. From the first day firefighter to a manufacturer who's been building equipment for three and four generations, and everyone has the same gravitas."

Halton said there are no political agendas, "It's just about the art and science of firefighting."

And speaking of science, a new face mask on display at the conference looks ordinary, but has an incredible innovation - one of the new products that's being used here in training for the first time.

The masks cost a little more than what's currently available - $350 - but they also increase the ability for firefighters to communicate.

The plastic or lens is coated with a special material that makes it extremely heat resistant. It can sustain heat of up to 500 degrees for up to 15 minutes. For a firefighter inside a burning building, that can literally mean the difference between life and death.

"This lens is the lifeline for the firefighter when they're in a severe, nasty situation," said Jeff Emery of Scott Safety, the mask's developer. "And this is going to hold up to much higher temperatures and much higher radiant heat and improving the survivability of a firefighter in a catastrophic event."