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Fire-Rescue International 2023: Welcome to KCMO

Whether it’s your first time visiting Cowtown or you’re a regular at Arrowhead Stadium, this year’s conference location offers something for everyone

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This year’s FRI conference will be held in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, at the Kansas City Convention Center.

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel


This year’s FRI conference will be held in the heart of Kansas City, Missouri, at the Kansas City Convention Center.

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

For the first time since 2002, attendees of the Fire-Rescue International conference will converge on Kansas City, Missouri – the “Heart of America” – for this year’s gathering, planned for Aug. 16-18 at the Kansas City Convention Center.

Ahead of the conference, check out FireRescue1’s pre-show coverage and discover top attractions and amenities offered by this year’s host city, from history to entertainment to dining.

Do you have a favorite Kansas City spot you’re hoping to hit while you’re in between educational sessions? Share your tips in the comments and be sure to send your conference photos and highlights to to be featured!

(Can’t make it to FRI? We’ve got you covered. Check out how to stay in the loop on all the FRI festivities.)

celebrating 150 years

This year’s FRI conference coincides with the 150th anniversary of the IAFC.

Chief Donna Black, IAFC president and board chair, said she was “honored and humbled” to take part in this year’s historic event:

This milestone celebration reminds us of the enduring commitment to excellence, camaraderie, and advancements in the fire and rescue industry. At this momentous event, let’s honor the traditions of our service by celebrating our successes and sharing lessons learned while also embracing innovation by working together to identify sustainable ways of doing our work to propel us into the future. Our mission to lead, educate, serve, and include is today more meaningful than ever.”

Watch for 150-year anniversary events and markers at the show.

Educational sessions

With nearly 100 education sessions lined up, you’ll have more than enough opportunities to level up your knowledge, skills and abilities. Browse the full lineup of sessions here, and be sure to check out these sessions by FireRescue1 board members, columnists and contributors:

  • Fire Chief (ret.) Marc Bashoor (FireRescue1 executive editor): “The Public Trust: Could YOU, Rescue YOU?”
  • Fire Chief (ret.) John Buckman: “Burnout: How to Keep Firefighters in an Optimal Performance Zone”
  • Lexipol Senior Fire Adviser Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder and Lexipol co-founder Gordon Graham: “Addressing the Leadership Chasm: From Chief to Company Officer”
  • Chief Goldfeder and Psychologist/Lexipol Wellness Director Rachelle Zemlok: “Sizing Up Firefighter Behavioral Health: When Their Marriage Problems Become Your Problems”
  • Senior Scientist Sara Jahnke: “Incorporating Behavioral Health Screenings into Annual Medical Evaluations: Guidance to Fire Chiefs from the First Responder Center for Excellence (FRCE) Task Force"; “Cancer: Prevent It, Detect It Early, SURVIVE It"; and “Been Hit in the Head Lately?”
  • IPSDI CEO Chief John Oates: “What’s Your Problem: How information, data, analysis, and understanding can solve the wicked fire service problems you face.”

Additionally, some FireRescue1 authors are presenting on topics they have written about for us in the past. Give these articles a read to determine if you want to learn more about this topic in person:

Exhibit hall

Amid the general and educational sessions, the FRI exhibit hall will open for attendees at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 16, with hundreds of booths featuring the latest in fire service innovations and technology.

Are you looking for something specific? Check out the FRI exhibit hall floor plan to map out your visit and be sure to check out our fire product buying guides to help plan your meet and greet with vendors:


Known as both the Jazz Capital and BBQ Capital of the World, Kansas City offers something for everyone, whether you’re a history buff, a thrill seeker or a food connoisseur.

History and culture

Kansas City Gangster Tour: Board a bus at Union Station to embark on an interactive tour of Kansas City’s more salacious sites, including speakeasies, brothel and more.
Price: Tickets start at $35

Shoal Creek Living History Museum: Step back in time when you visit this 80-acre recreation of a village set in the 1800s. The museum includes 17 authentic log cabins and homes that were relocated to the area. You can go on a self-guided tour or purchase a $5 ticket for their first Saturday events that feature reenactors who bring the village to life with skits and demonstrations.
Price: Free daily admission or $5 during first Saturday events

9/11 Memorial: A 2009 request by Overland Park Firefighter Trevor Miller and Capt. Paul Bishoff was the catalyst that helped bring a piece of the fallen World Trade Center towers to the area to create the memorial. The 14-foot, 2.5-ton steel beam is accompanied by education panels from the 9/11 Commission Report, a victim’s panel which lists the names of those who died and a weeping wall fountain that represents those who survived.
Price: Free


BRKThrough: Billed as a “social gaming destination,” BRKThrough offers 22,000 square feet with “35 unique and immersive high-technology game rooms that are a fast-paced combination of physical, mental and skill-based challenges.” Gather a group of fellow FRI attendees for a friendly competition at this unique Overland Park establishment.
Price: $29.99/person for two hours

Old World Balloonery: Get a bird’s-eye view of the city during a hot air balloon ride from Old World Balloonery.
Price: $250/person


Fun fact: KCMO has more barbecue restaurants per capita than any other U.S. city. However, there are multiple fare options for any FRI attendee’s palette. Check out these options and add your favorite Kansas City locale in the comments!

  • For breakfast, try You Say Tomato: This top-rated establishment offers a variety of breakfast/brunch dishes in a homey setting.
    Location: 2801 Holmes St, Kansas City, Mo., 64109
    Cost: $
  • For Italian, try Garozzo’s Downtown: With more than 3,000 Google reviews, this establishment is beloved by Kansas Citians and offers “classic cuisine … with an old school vibe.”
    Location: 526 Harrison Street, Kansas City, Mo., 64106
    Cost: $$
  • For steaks, try Jess and Jim’s Steak House: Opened in 1938, this family-run joint “serves up huge plates of meats and sides in warm, simple digs.”
    Location: 517 E 135th St., Kansas City, MO, 64145
    Cost: $$

See you at FRI!


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Can’t make it to Fire-Rescue International 2023?

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

Rachel Engel is an award-winning journalist and the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Engel seeks to tell the heroic, human stories of first responders and the importance of their work. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma, and began her career as a freelance writer, focusing on government and military issues. Engel joined Lexipol in 2015 and has since reported on issues related to public safety. Engel lives in Wichita, Kansas. She can be reached via email.