Trade show tales . . .
By Laura King
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Indianapolis, Ind. - A key attraction at the FDIC trade show yesterday was MSA ’s “no-you-can’t-order-one-yet” backpack-style SCBA. As announced in March, MSA has been chosen by the IAFF and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to create a next-generation prototype backpack, or flatback, SCBA but as MSA’s Kieran Sparks and its other reps repeatedly told visitors to its booth Friday, the lightweight, low-profile SCBA on display is just a concept; prototypes will be developed and revised and developed again before a design is approved, hopefully sometime in 2011. Visitors to the MSA booth at the Indiana Convention Centre still wanted to order the backpack SCBA but had to settle for touching and thoroughly examining the sleek and streamlined concept version instead.
Reports yesterday from reliable sources (Fire Fighting in Canada publisher Martin
McAnulty, who visited yesterday with the Fire Engineering /Penwell folks) put FDIC attendance at more than
30,000 – up from about 26,500 last year. We ran into Canadians from Windsor,
Ont., (here with The Fire Within group) and we know there are groups here from Lethbridge
and Calgary, Alta., Kitchener,
Niagara Falls and Newmarket,
Ont., Saint John, N.B., and Halifax,
N.S., in addition to the mostly western
Canadian contingent with The Fire Within.
The manufacturers/vendors we talked to reported more
Canadians than ever visiting their booth, in groups, buying stuff – a good sign
for FDIC but it raises questions about the success of the upcoming Canadian
shows if so many groups are doing their purchasing here.
I made it through about half of the gargantuan trade show
yesterday – the portion at the Indiana Convention Centre – and will tackle the
second half, at Lucas Oil Stadium, today. Most of the truck manufacturers are
in the stadium and word yesterday was that although show attendance is up, things
were quiet over at the stadium and the vendors weren’t happy. The weather
wasn’t great yesterday and it’s a bit of a hike from the convention centre to
the stadium so my guess is that like me, lots of people chose to say inside the
convention centre yesterday and will migrate to the stadium today.
With thousands of vendors jockeying for the attention of
hundreds of thousands of firefighters and officers, gimmicks are in plenty of
supply on the trade show floor – young women in short, glittery dresses and
very high heels (this is 2010, right?), prize giveaways (people were lined up
10 deep at MSA’s booth to fill out a short survey and get a free MSA
t-shirt), and numerous raffle draws for prizes.
The Fire-Dex booth had a contingent of young women in short
shorts helping firefighters try on bunker gear and then run a short obstacle
course. It was about 85 degrees in the convention centre yesterday, and humid,
so trying on bunker gear wasn’t exactly a comfortable experience. Still, guys
were lined up to do so. Wonder why?