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This week's Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) will draw just shy of 30,000 smoke-eaters to the Indiana Convention Center—along with hundreds of manufacturers selling everything from hoses to boots. The Hoosierist decided to stop by and heroically pull out a few of the stranger items. Such as:
» Lots and lots of halligans, a.k.a. the firefighter's passkey. Basically a yard-long piece of forged metal with a pry bar at one end and a pick and blade at the other, it's designed to make doors and other entry barriers go away. About as common at FDIC as hammers are at hardware stores, it's de rigueur for a three-alarm run. And it would probably come in handy during a zombie apocalypse, too. Lots of companies make them, but the one by Leatherhead Tools caught our eye. Mostly because the company is called Leatherhead, which is awesome.
» While the halligan is indeed a great piece of gear, when it comes to macho firefighting hardware, nothing tops the Pig. Produced by Lonestar Axe, it's basically a metal block with a spike on one end, mounted on a handle. "The PIG is 8 pounds of total fireground domination!" says the company's subtle, understated promotional material. It's also the perfect way to "breach walls of various types, including bricks," and "remove burglar bars." Warning: Women who touch the Pig may instantly become pregnant.
» Grand Theft Auto fans would definitely get a kick out of Doron Precision System's 660Fire Driving Simulator. It's basically the cab of a firetruck with high-def monitors over the windows displaying near-real road simulations. Now you can drive a firetruck! Why isn't this in arcades?
» Speaking of simulations, things take a darker turn at the Simulaids booth, which specializes in realistic disaster-training props. And by "props," we mean high-fidelity plastic human bodies and body parts that have been injured in some very extreme way. Their disconcertingly thick catalog includes a Weapons of Mass Destruction Casualty Simulation Kit; the Full Body CPR/Trauma Manikin; and the somewhat callously named Fat Old Fred Manikin, for practicing CPR on the obese. If you're already thinking about using this stuff for Halloween, stop. The Mass Destruction set costs $1,000 all by itself.
» Firefighters get their trucks into lots of sketchy places, and manufacturers offer Batmobile-like capabilities to get them back out. Like, for instance, automatic snow chains. Stuck in the slush? Press a button and deploy them under your tires. Offered by a number of FDIC exhibitors, including Rudd Chain, they'll extract you from anything short of a lava flow. But automatic chains aren't the last word in inaccessible-area accessibility. If you really want to trick out your SUV or pickup, Mattracks offers conversion kits that put tank-like treads on your ride. Yes, you read that right. Tank treads on a pickup. The hillbilly epiphany has arrived.
» Of course, firefighting isn't just about breaking down doors with impossibly macho implements of destruction. Sometimes it's about frantically scurrying around a disaster scene, trying to find a place to go poopy. That's where the RESTOP company's line of portable toilets comes in. Its big seller is basically a plastic-lined bucket with a toilet lid. Great for the on-the-go firefighter who's gotta go. The company's motto is "Where fecal matters." Yeah, they went there.
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