Can’t make it to FDIC?

Don’t worry, you can still experience elements of the show from afar


FDIC is the largest fire service conference on U.S. soil, with tens of thousands of firefighters rolling into Indianapolis each year to participate in hands-on training, attend educational sessions and partake in networking and other special events. And this year, the JEMS Conference & Expo, JEMS Con, will make its debut, co-located alongside FDIC. The shows take place in Indianapolis, Indiana, April 25-30.

These shows are bucket list events for many firefighters, paramedics and EMTs. However, many will be unable to attend due to budget constraints, scheduling conflicts or, in recent years, uncertainty over travel during the pandemic.

For those of you who are unable to attend FDIC 2022, you can tamp down the FOMO (fear of missing out), as there are ways to stay connected to the action. Here are a few ideas:

1. Follow the event on social media

A quick search will reveal FDIC-related hashtags. This year, the go-to hashtags are #FDIC2022 and #JEMSCON and you can already see the conversation underway at FDIC’s Twitter page. Plus, check out how presenters and exhibitors are drumming up interest in the show. Some examples:

Pro tip: Not everyone remembers to use the hashtag so searching “FDIC 2022” or similar keywords or presenter names will elicit posts as well.

2. Check out educational session previews

Many presenters share preview articles or videos to drum up interest in their sessions before the show. Reviewing these previews is a first step in learning more about the topic at hand. For example, US&R Structures Specialist Andrew Schrader with the Marion County (Florida) Fire Department and Florida US&R Task Force 8, offers this 2-minute video to discuss his FDIC session “Fail Falling: Structural Collapse and the Impossible Diagnosis.”

Additionally, FireRescue1 offers educational coverage of a handful of FDIC sessions. Check out the FDIC coverage here – with session insights to follow in coming weeks.

3. Seek out similar content

Once you’ve identified the content you’re most interested in exploring, start seeking out similar articles and videos. For example, FDIC 2022 will feature sessions on a wide variety of topics, including search and rescue, fire attack, fireground decision-making, leadership, apparatus, training and instruction, behavioral health, PPE, incident command, staffing and more. Search FireRescue1’s topic page for information on these and many other topics.

Plus, some FireRescue1 board members, columnists and contributors are speaking at this year’s event. Check out their work for related educational information:

4. Connect with presenters

Reach out to presenters whom you would have liked to see at the show, particularly if you have specific questions that you would have asked in the in-person session. Connect on LinkedIn or follow them on social media to glean information from their sessions or associated training.

Check out the full list of FDIC presenters here.

5. Attend virtual events

Not all shows offer virtual events, so you’ll want to keep tabs on the show’s event information page to learn which events or presentations, if any, will be available to livestream – or for on-demand viewing after the show. Keep in mind that while some events may not be livestreamed, event sponsors or groups might choose to live-tweet from an event, keeping you up to date on the action.

6. Join a local chapter or organization

Like most major trade shows, FDIC holds special events for groups. For example, FDIC 2022 will feature a networking event for Women in Fire plus the Indy Metro F.O.O.L.S. Brotherhood Bash event. Other groups or associations may hold meetings at events like this, as so many members will be in the same place at the same time. Research whether groups you are affiliated with – or want to be affiliated with – are holding events at the show, and consider joining a local chapter to help keep you current on activities from the show. You can also follow these groups on social media to stay in the loop.

7. Visit vendor websites, headquarters or distributor sites

You may not be able to make it to FDIC, but can you visit exhibitors after the show? Perhaps some of the companies you wanted to visit are located closer to your department than Indianapolis, and it would be an easier trek to hit the road for individual visits. Remember to make appointments with these companies so they are prepared to show you the goods.

Looking ahead

You may not be able to attend the show this year, so start planning now for next year. Block off your calendar, asking your supervisor about the steps necessary to attend the show, and start saving those pennies. It’s always great to connect with your peers, but when that’s not in the cards, at least you have some solid strategies to stay connected and continue learning.

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