We are losing our heart and soul by making the fire service just a job.
FDIC Conference Director Diane Rothschild recently spoke with Captain (Ret.) Michael M. Dugan of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY), who will be the recipient of the 2020 Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award at the FDIC International 2020 Opening Ceremony Day 2, about the whole FDIC “experience.”
DR: How long have you been teaching/attending FDIC International?
MD: My first FDIC was in 1996, and I started teaching at FDIC in 1999.
DR: How did you get into instructing in general?
MD: I started teaching at a local fire academy on Long Island. I had written some standard operating guidelines for the FDNY, and Deputy Chief (Ret.) Vincent Dunn saw them and got them published for me.
DR: What sets your experience at FDIC International apart from attending other conferences?
MD: FDIC is one of the largest gatherings of like-minded individuals you can find. Almost 40,000 firefighters from a multitude of nations gathering to exchange information and ideas. It is the biggest stage in the fire service, in my opinion.
DR: What was your reaction to being selected to receive the Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award?
MD: Receiving the Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award is an honor of the highest magnitude. The firefighters who have received it in the past are amazing, and just to have my name associated with that is humbling. I honestly think someone made a mistake!
DR: What do you think is the most pressing issue facing the fire service today and why?
MD: The lack of understanding for the fire service. Some people today consider it a job, not a calling and a duty. We are losing our heart and soul by making the fire service just a job.
DR: What is your “takeaway” from a week at FDIC International?
MD: I get my batteries recharged. I bump into friends, colleagues, instructors, and new people from all over the world. I have met friends there from Australia, Canada, and all over the United States. It is a chance to sit down with these brothers and sisters and talk about the fire service and what’s going on in their lives.
DR: Who are your FDIC International role models and why?
MD: The people who are my role models at FDIC are numerous. They are the people who did it right. You can walk down the hall at FDIC and see the likes of Bobby Halton, John Norman, Vinny Dunn, Rick Lasky, Bobby Hoff, Bill Gustin, John Salka, and others too numerous to mention. Of course, Andy Fredricks was also one of my role models. But what each and every one of these people have in common is that they are humble and unassuming and you can talk to them. That’s another thing that makes FDIC amazing.
DR: What advice do you have for first-time attendees?
MD: Do your homework. If you are going with other people from your department, get the FDIC guide that comes with your Fire Engineering subscription and look at the classes you want to attend. Mark them and then talk with the people you are attending with and make sure that you are going to different classes. It’s really easy and safe to go to a class with you brother and sisters from your department. But you are there to get information for the whole department, and by splitting your forces you get more information that you can use to better your department.
Presentation of the Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award
Opening Ceremony Day 2
Thursday, April 23, 2020, 8:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.
Sagamore Ballroom 1-7, Indiana Convention Center
The Lifetime Achievement Award is named for Tom Brennan, who was the editor of Fire Engineering for eight years and a technical editor. Brennan had more than 35 years of fire service experience, including more than 20 years with the Fire Department of New York and five years as chief of the Waterbury (CT) Fire Department. He was co-editor of The Fire Chief’s Handbook, Fifth Edition (Fire Engineering Books, 1995) and the recipient of the 1998 Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award.