F/F: Firehouse World was held in Las Vegas this year, were you happy with the results/turn out?
WM: Firehouse World was held in Las Vegas this year and the event received a lot of positive feedback from attendees and vendors. Firehouse World received excellent support from fire departments in the Las Vegas region which allowed us to offer hands-on training (HOT) for the first time in five years. The feedback on this year’s hands-on training was outstanding with several new and unique programs being offered. The conference included 15 new speakers and more than 25 first-time sessions, along with a day-long Apparatus Purchasing Committee program to help departments navigate their way through the purchasing process.
F/F: Is the “touring show” model working for Firehouse World? Do you see it becoming a “stationary” event back in San Diego or another city?
WM: The idea was never to become a “touring show.” Lack of support of the event and numerous unexpected political challenges in Los Angeles, resulted in seeking a new location. While the return to San Diego was discussed, the root of the move from San Diego was because interest in the city waned and the venue plateaued. Fire departments in the Las Vegas Valley were eager to work with Firehouse and the interest in attending an event in Las Vegas was strong. We are in the process of finalizing our 2021 plans.
F/F: How do you think Firehouse World benefited end users (attendees)? Vendors (exhibitors)?
WM: This year’s conference program offered a variety of new sessions, including HOT training that brought new attendees to the event. The Apparatus Purchasing Committee’s exhibit floor tour created an opportunity for the program to end on the floor and begin immediate engagement with exhibitors. We had several first-time attendees this year that provided exhibitors the opportunity to engage with new attendees in the market for various products. A large percentage of exhibitors shared they obtained new leads. The size of the crowd allowed more time to answer questions and discuss the attendees’ needs.
F/F: With the cancellation of many tradeshows due to the pandemic, do you think it will be the only big show this year?
WM: It is hard to speculate which events will be cancelled or postponed, especially with the myriad reopening policies, travel restrictions, and current budgets.
F/F: Between the fiscal and the physical concerns of the COVID-19, where do you think trade shows can draw large crowds safely?
WM: The large majority of our attendees have played an active part in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, from engine company and ambulance crews, to chiefs and officers who developed and refined response policies, staffing and budgets. The safety of responders is paramount for attendees and exhibitors. Firehouse’s show management is exploring new safety. With the potential for budgets to be tightened, shows need increased access to content and products to make the attendees more positive in their purchasing decisions and to find more value from the events.
Update on merger of Firehouse World and Firehouse Expo from William Macrae after the interview:
“Our decision to leverage the best of Firehouse World and Firehouse Expo into one powerhouse event comes at a critical time in our industry when the need for affordable and effective training is so important. This merger of these events will provide an exciting new platform where attendees and exhibitors can come together to train, exchange information and network in a larger, unified environment,” said Mr. Bill MacRae, Vice President and Group Publisher of Firehouse. The Firehouse brand will continue to serve the West Coast with a series of hosted buyer summits in 2021.”
Quick Facts from 2020
- Number of attendees that visited the exhibit hall: 1041
- Number of exhibitors: 156
- Number of departments represented at Firehouse World: 433