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Volunteer firefighters join forces at 118th annual WNYVFA convention

Fri, Jul 28th 2017 05:35 pm
Volunteer firefighters from all over Western New York are coming together in Wheatfield for the 118th annual Western New York Volunteer Firemen's Association Convention running now through Saturday.
WNYVFA represents all volunteer firefighters throughout Niagara, Erie, Orleans, Genesee, Monroe, Livingston, Wyoming, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Steuben and Allegany counties.
This year's convention, hosted by St. Johnsburg Fire Co. and Frontier Volunteer Fire Co., will offer everything from business meetings and training seminars to fireman games and competitions.
In a press release, Bruce Mack, association president and Frontier Volunteer Fire Co. fire chief, said, "We are looking forward to this year's convention, as we do every year. It is a chance to gather together, honoring the brave volunteer firefighters who came before us and celebrating our current members. It also reminds us, for the 118th year in a row, of the importance of community."
One of the main goals of the convention is to discuss ideas for legislation to assist volunteer firefighters, Mack said.
"Right now we're working, trying to get the governor to sign the cancer protection act for volunteer firemen," Mack said. "We've worked on legislation for the smoke detector laws, the safe cigarette laws and the 'move over' laws, things like that. Ideas like that come out of our meetings."
Throughout the convention, training and education seminars will be held in Wheatfield's Town Hall complex, behind Town Hall, 2800 Church Road.
Co-chair Gary Hunt of Frontier Volunteer Fire Co. said the convention serves as an opportunity for volunteer fire companies to come together "not only for training (and) meetings, but also to share ideas with other fire companies across the Western New York area, which is a great thing, because a lot of us have issues that sometimes we find that somebody else has it and they solved it and we're able to use their information to help us out."
On Saturday, an award ceremony will be held for volunteer firefighters who will be honored for their service. Also, Mack said, "We're going to have a memorial service to remember those who we lost last year."
The convention also offers events for the public. Live bands will perform at 8 p.m. each night of the event in a beer tent set up at the Wheatfield Town Hall complex. Beginning at noon on Saturday, visitors can watch games in which volunteer firefighters will compete in outdoor activities at St. John Lutheran Church's athletic field, 6950 Ward Road, North Tonawanda. Some games involve hooking up hydrants and spraying water as fast as possible or running a race while putting on equipment.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, the firemen's parade will take place along Ward Road from Homeyer Road to the Wheatfield Town Hall. The parade will feature fire companies showcasing apparatus and marching with bands and drum corps. Fire trucks will be judged during the parade.
The convention, which rotates locations each year, has been previously held in Wheatfield.
Hunt said the convention provides an opportunity for volunteer firefighters to "meet firefighters from different areas, make friends, socialize, kind of get down and dirty and enjoy being a volunteer firefighter."
For more information about WNYVFA, visit www.wnyvfa.org.
Tribune Editor Lauren Zaepfel contributed to this report.

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