Patty Cormier, a fire convention organizer.
Firefighters Convention patch designed by Signworks
Farmington will host firefighters convention
FARMINGTON – Farmington Fire Rescue will host the 51st annual convention of the Maine State Federation of Firefighters on Sept. 5-7 in downtown Farmington and at the Farmington Fairgrounds.
This will be the third time the event will have been held in Farmington, with prior conventions hosted in 1985 and 1994.
The convention is expected to bring up to 500 firefighters and their families from all over the state and New England to Farmington over the three days, noted Patty Cormier, a Farmington firefighter and state forest ranger. Some 500 attended last year’s convention, hosted by Ellsworth.
“It is a lot of fun and brings a bunch of people to Farmington,” she said.
Cormier noted the annual conventions are a celebration of the fire service and include a large Saturday parade. In addition to many fire departments, local businesses are welcome to participate in the Farmington parade, she told local Rotarians during a presentation.
Juston McKinney of Rescue Me TV fame, will be a speaker and a dance with a DJ is another feature of the event. Vendors will be set up in the Starbird Building at the fairgrounds, with activities also occurring in UMF conference rooms. Foster Tech students will be involved in the event and help with a convention fire muster, Cormier said.
To fund the convention activities, materials and goody bags for registrants and fire muster trophies, an 85-page yearbook is being compiled that will include fire history and advertising. Business advertisers and sponsors are being sought, and Farmington Fireman’s Benevolent Association representatives will be approaching many local businesses, Cormier noted.
The discussion briefly turned to concerns among volunteer fire departments of having adequate staffing to respond to emergencies, which is a universal problem, particularly for rural departments whose volunteer members work during the day and may do so out of town. Fire departments tend to be inexpensive in Maine because of the high number of volunteers and a pay per call compensation system.
On April 30, Farmington is organizing a discussion with all area fire departments to discuss these concerns and how mutual aid agreements might be expanded for more regional cooperation, noted Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis. A regional fire training facility has been discussed, utilizing the Mt. Blue campus. Farmington, with some 27 volunteer firefighters, is the busiest area community, with some 367 fire calls in 2013, including many traffic accident responses. And this year, calls are ahead of where they were at this same time in 2013.
Other challenges include state and federal regulations which must be met by firefighters and the continual training needs. Another variable impacting staffing availability is the economy, with some persons working 2-3 jobs to make ends meet, it was noted.
Firefighter availability is a big issue, agreed Cormier, noting a recent call where it took 20 minutes for two firefighters to respond to a chimney fire. If it had been a structural fire, it would have been too late, she said.
For more information or to be a sponsor of the Sept. 5-7 fire convention, contact the Farmington Fireman’s Benevolent Association, 153 Farmington Falls Road, Farmington, ME 04938; call the fire station at 778-3235 or Patty Comier at 491-5932; or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.