Those are some of things attendees of the West Virginia State Firemen’s Association will discuss during their annual convention being held at Oglebay Park.
Firefighters from across the Mountain State opened the convention Thursday. It is being hosted this year by the McMechen Volunteer Fire Department and will conclude Saturday with a 2 p.m. parade through the streets of McMechen, followed by a picnic at the McMechen Firemen’s Hall that is open to the public.
Association President Doug Mongold of Moorefield said he is pleased with the turnout, despite the fact the total number of individuals is down slightly this year. He noted the number of fire departments represented has increased.
He pointed out the convention, this year will stress recruitment and retention.
“We are also looking to start some kind of retirement plan,” he continued. “This will have to be done through the state Legislature.”
Mongold said the convention “is a way for all the departments in the state to make things better.”
“It makes things more unified,” he said. “The more you are together, the more chance you have to get something done. That’s how this organization got started — trying to get everyone on the same page.”
Another initiative being emphasized is the Junior Firefighters program. Mongold said 77 junior firefighters attended a boot camp this summer; he expects that number to increase as that event becomes better known.
In addition to meetings on various topics, a banquet is on the convention agenda, as well as a memorial service for firefighters who gave their lives in the line of duty. That service is set for 11 a.m. today at the Oglebay amphitheater. Vendors also will be available to show participants the latest in technology and firefighting apparatus.
The West Virginia Firemen’s Association was organized March 2, 1929, and incorporated on May 20, 1929. It is made up of firefighters from all the volunteer fire departments in the state and most professional departments.
Sponsors for the event include Whiteside Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick, Pontiac, Cadillac; Finley Fire Equipment; Staley’s Communications; Sutphen Corp.; and VFIRS Insurance.
Photo by Art Limann
Members of the West Virginia Firemen’s Association examine a 2008 Sutphen pumper truck on display at Oglebay Park during the association’s convention. The truck has a 1,000-gallon tank and can pump 1,500 gallons per minute.