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IAFC cancels FRI 2020 due to COVID-19 ‘hot spot’ concerns

The association plans to hold a virtual version of its flagship event the same weekend


By Janelle Foskett

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) announced Tuesday that it has canceled the Fire-Rescue International 2020, set to take place in Phoenix, Aug. 19-25, due to concerns about the coronavirus.

The association will instead offer a virtual FRI event during the same week. The virtual format will be announced on July 7.

IAFC President Fire Chief Gary Ludwig explained the reason for the cancellation in a letter to members, partners and attendees: “Late last week, [Phoenix] city officials were still unable to advise when the restriction of 150 people or less would be lifted on mass gathering events. In addition, Arizona has recently emerged as a COVID-19 ‘hot spot.’ Since May 1, the number of reported COVID-19 cases in that area has surged by approximately 300 percent.”

Ludwig further stated, that while much of the country is beginning to transition into the different phases of stay-at-home orders and opening up businesses, the IAFC Board was concerned by the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Arizona. “We could not compromise the safety and health of our attendees, exhibitors, customers and staff above all else,” he said.

Until Tuesday, the FRI website indicated plans to move forward with an in-person show, but also offered a virtual version of the conference.

“Whether we collaborate in-person or virtually - FRI 2020 will be here for you,” the site read.