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Annual Fire Rescue & EMS Expo in Monroeville features equipment, seminars

- Firefighting equipment of all sizes, including trucks, will be on display at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
Firefighting equipment of all sizes, including trucks, will be on display at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
- An aisle at a previous Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo is packed with emergency responders and their families. The show is returning to the Monroeville Convention Center for this year's show, which is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
An aisle at a previous Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo is packed with emergency responders and their families. The show is returning to the Monroeville Convention Center for this year's show, which is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
- Turnout gear is among the items that will be on display at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which this year is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
Turnout gear is among the items that will be on display at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which this year is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
- Provident, an insurance company, that has been a vendor at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo in the past, will be back at the Monroeville Convention Center on Feb. 23 and 24, 2013, for this year's show. Submitted
Provident, an insurance company, that has been a vendor at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo in the past, will be back at the Monroeville Convention Center on  Feb. 23 and 24, 2013, for this year's show. Submitted
- Servpro, a residential and commercial restoration business that has been a vendor at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center in the past, is returnign for this year's show, which is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
Servpro, a residential and commercial restoration business that has been a vendor at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center in the past, is returnign for this year's show, which is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
- The Fire Zone, a vendor at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo in the past, will be back for this year's event at the Monroeville Convention Center, which will be Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
The Fire Zone, a vendor at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo in the past, will be back for this year's event at the Monroeville Convention Center, which will be Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
- As in previous years, a variety of firefighting and emergency-response equipment will be available at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which this year is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
As in previous years, a variety of firefighting and emergency-response equipment will be available at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which this year is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Submitted
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express - Representatives of Monroeville's volunteer fire companies will be selling various items in the upcoming Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which will be Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. From left, James Roberts and Stephanie Katofsky from company No. 6 and and Josh Slagel from company No. 5 sort items they will have for sale at the show.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>   Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express</em></div>Representatives of Monroeville's volunteer fire companies will be selling various items in the upcoming Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which will be Feb. 23 and 24, 2013.  From left, James Roberts and Stephanie Katofsky from company No. 6 and and Josh Slagel from company No. 5 sort items they will have for sale at the show.
23 and 24, 2013 Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express - Monroeville firefighters Chris Grimes of company No. 5 and Joseph Clark of company No. 6 compare T-shirts that will be on sale at the upcoming Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center on Feb.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> 23 and 24, 2013   Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express</em></div>Monroeville firefighters Chris Grimes of company No. 5 and Joseph Clark of company No. 6 compare T-shirts that will be on sale at the upcoming Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center on Feb.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express - Stephanie Katofsky, who's father is the chief of Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 6, is reflected in a mirror while she tries on a cap the company is selling at the upcoming Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>  Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express</em></div>Stephanie Katofsky, who's father is the chief of Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 6, is reflected in a mirror while she tries on a cap the company is selling at the upcoming Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which is Feb. 23 and 24, 2013.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express - Fire Chief Harold Katofsky (right) of Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 6, and Josh Slagel of Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 5 show off a T-shirt that will be on sale at the Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which will be Feb. 23-24, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>   Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express</em></div>Fire Chief Harold Katofsky (right) of Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 6, and Josh Slagel of Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 5 show off a T-shirt that will be on sale at the  Pittsburgh Fire  Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which will be Feb. 23-24, 2013.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express - Monroeville's volunteer fire companies will be selling various items, such as this T-shirt, at the upcoming Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which will be Feb. 23 and 24, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>   Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express</em></div>Monroeville's volunteer fire companies will be selling various items, such as this T-shirt, at the upcoming Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which will be Feb. 23 and 24, 2013.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express - Monroeville volunteer fire companies will be selling various items at the upcoming Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which will be Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Clockwise from left, Chris Grimes, representing fire company No. 5; Joseph Clark, James Roberts and Stephanie Katofsky, representing No. 6; and Josh Slagel, representing No. 5, pose with T-shirts, caps, hats, travel cups, mugs and other items that will be on sale.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em> Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express</em></div>Monroeville volunteer fire companies will be selling various items at the upcoming Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo at the Monroeville Convention Center, which will be Feb. 23 and 24, 2013. Clockwise from left, Chris Grimes, representing fire company No. 5; Joseph Clark,  James Roberts and Stephanie Katofsky, representing No. 6; and Josh Slagel, representing No. 5, pose with T-shirts, caps, hats, travel cups, mugs and other items that will be on sale.

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If you go:

What: 26th annual Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Where: Monroeville Convention Center, 209 Mall Blvd.

Admission: $5 for adults; children ages 16 and younger get in for free.

Highlights: 300 exhibits, including 30 new companies; live demonstrations; and a presentation by the Point Breeze Fire Department from Breezy Point, N.Y., from 12 to 2 p.m. on both days of the expo.

Details: Call 800-747-5599, or go to www.simoneventmanagement.com, and click on the link for the Pittsburgh expo.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Melanie Donahoo
Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
 

Visitors to the 26th annual Pittsburgh Fire Rescue & EMS Expo go to see the newest equipment, learn about new techniques for firefighting and rescues, and network with fellow emergency responders, the majority of whom volunteer their time to protect the safety of their communities, said Harold Katofsky, chief of Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 6.

This is an expo showing the newest and most modern firefighting, rescue and emergency-medical-services equipment,” said Katofsky, 57, who has helped with the show since it began.

The expo, which is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Monroeville Convention Center, is the third largest of its kind in the United States, said Kelly Simon of Greensburg, owner of Simon Event Management and expo organizer.

“This is the show they come to and make their purchases,” Simon said.

“The entire Monroeville Convention Center will be sold out.”

More than 60 firetrucks, ambulances and other emergency apparatus will be on display, and between 160 and 170 exhibitors from all over the tri-state area will show the newest equipment in fire and emergency management, Simon said.

Being able to physically see the different features on pieces of equipment is like kicking tires in an auto showroom, Katofsky said.

“They can walk up to the firetrucks and see the construction,” Katofsky said. “If they want to, they can stand or hang on the doors and see which one is better.”

Jason Burns, 26, the chief of the North Apollo Volunteer Fire Department, said he goes to the expo every year to see the newest technology and equipment.

“There is always something new out there,” Burns said. “And when you get everything under one roof, you can compare it.”

Robin Pittman, vice president of Fire Force, a Butler County-based supplier of firefighting equipment, has been going to the expo for over 20 years. While the company displays smaller items, such as boots and gloves, the event is more about exposure and networking for the company, Pittman said.

“We're always trying to give fire services what they want to see at the fire show,” said Pittman, of Seven Fields. “Through all the input we get, we'll try to continue making this a better and better show.”

In addition to the exhibits, a group of firefighters from Breezy Point, N.Y., will make a presentation about their struggles in Superstorm Sandy, which caused a firestorm, tidal-surge flood and hurricane-force winds when it hit the small community in the borough of Queens.

“It's a really good learning experience for our volunteers,” Simon said. “So they can come to shop and also sit in on a presentation of lessons learned.”

Marty Ingram, chief of the Point Breeze Fire Department in Breezy Point, said that he and his team have done presentations for church congregations, but this will be their first time talking to other firefighters and emergency personnel.

“I think it's going to be a two-way street,” Ingram said. “It will be a good exchange of information, and I think it will be educational and raise everyone's professionalism.”

They will start the presentation by talking about the events of the day when Superstorm Sandy hit the New York City area at the end of October 2012 and finish with a question-and-answer session with the audience, said Ingram, 62,

“We're not only going to talk about the events but also the recovery efforts,” Ingram said. “We were deeply involved in helping the whole community.”

A slide show will help the audience understand the fire department's obstacles, but people really can't comprehend the damage and desolation unless they have been there, Ingram said.

In the past, the expo has hosted groups such as Hurricane Katrina volunteers and workers from 9/11's Ground Zero, Simon said.

“When there is a disaster and rescue attempts are successful and there are lessons to be learned, we do try to incorporate that into the program in addition to the exhibits,” Simon said.

Booth space also is set aside for fire companies at no charge so they have room for fundraising activities, including the used-equipment flea market, in which specialized fire and emergency equipment can be bought and sold for good prices, Simon said.

Chris Grimes, vice president and lieutenant of Monroeville Volunteer Fire Company No. 5, said his department sells T-shirts to raise money and also uses the event as a recruitment tool.

“You don't always need to buy something,” Grimes, 38, said. “But the camaraderie and seeing old friends is what I always look forward to.”

The expo is a great opportunity to meet new people and reconnect with others, Pittman said.

“It's kind of fun to see old friends who you just see at shows like this,” Pittman said. “We have a broad spectrum of people who will be there.”

The fire expo is a project close to Simon's heart because she started the show after her father, a volunteer firefighter for more than 50 years, suggested that Pittsburgh have a fire show.

“When you're at the show, you can feel the energy and the enthusiasm,” Simon said. “There is such camaraderie. These guys are brothers, and they don't even know each other.”

Simon's grandfather also a volunteer firefighter.

Katofsky said that not only is his son a junior firefighter, his daughter has been going to the annual expo since she could “sit up in the stroller.”

The annual fire show began at the former Monroeville ExpoMart in 1988 and briefly declined in attendance when the ExpoMart closed about five years ago, and Simon had to move the show to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh. The fire expo moved to the Monroeville Convention Center in 2010, and Simon said she plans to keep it there indefinitely.

Nearly 5,000 fire and EMS personnel are expected to attend, Simon said.

“It's a great place for these men to get together and talk about what they've learned and how they can help each other,” Simon said. “They are volunteers, so we try to do whatever we can to provide a great event for them.”

Melanie Donahoo is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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