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West Fargo hosting state firefighter convention

The West Fargo Fire Department's newest ladder truck will be paraded down Sheyenne Street during the 129th annual N.D. Firefighter's Association Convention this weekend. Pioneer File Photo

The West Fargo Fire Department is marking a first hosting the 129th annual North Dakota Firefighter's Association Convention this weekend at various locations around the community.

Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider said over 300 firefighters from across the state are expected to attend, providing the perfect opportunity for networking and gathering information on the latest technology from some of the 15 fire equipment vendors that will be showing their products or services throughout the three-day event that will run tomorrow June 6 through Saturday, June 8.

The convention has been two years in the planning and no small task but well worth every second of it, according to Schatschneider who has been with the department since 1980 and chief since 1993. "This is the very first time for West Fargo to host the event," he stated. "This is something that I always thought we should do during my career with the fire department. Three years ago the opportunity presented itself, I talked to the board of directors and we decided to go for it. Since that time it has definitely been a group effort, with several different committees working on various parts of the convention. We are so pleased with all the support we are getting from all the firefighters who have spent hours planning to make this an event attendees will remember and hopefully they will come back for a future convention."

Toward making it the best convention possible, activities promise to be varied and interesting. The session kicks off Thursday with diverse social events including a Firefighter's Golf Tournament at the Maple River Golf Club in Mapleton; and a Trap Shoot Tournament at the Shooting Park located near Horace. Later on in the day, activities will continue at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds where at 5 p.m. the North Dakota Fire Chief's Association will hold their semi-annual meeting at Scholander Pavilion. Evening activities will feature a meal, refreshments and entertainment in the Hartl Ag Building for all registered attendees and their spouses.

Friday morning, June 7, the group will convene at the West Fargo High School. The opening ceremony will include welcomes from various West Fargo City officials along with a memorial service to honor firefighters that have passed away since the last convention. West Fargo Firefighters will serve as color guard for this part of the program. "Our group has been working very hard on this with great cooperation from Don Martin who heads up the honor guard for FM Ambulance," Schatschneider said. "He has been training our people and has spent numerous sessions teaching them how to conduct themselves in the proper way as color guard members."

An added high point will be the department's newest piece of equipment -- a 96-foot ladder truck on display to greet guests Friday morning. Schatschneider is also working to recruit Fargo and Moorhead ladder trucks with the plan to drape an American Flag high on the equipment's buckets.

The program portion of the convention on Friday will involved reports from various fire agencies in the state, highlighted by the motivational keynote address presented by Battalion Chief Dan Sheridan with the New York City Fire Department.

A 25-year veteran of the New York group, Sheridan has been been involved with training for the international firefighting community, as well as fireman and special operations command, and a division supervisor for IMT which deals with incidents involving national disasters and other emergencies. He lectures at the annual conference held in Indianapolis and is a regular contributor to the fire engineering magazine.

Following convention adjournment for the day, there will be a fire truck parade at 4:30 p.m. that will travel down Sheyenne Street from 2nd Ave. W. to 7th Ave. W. The public is welcome and encouraged to line the route and view the menagerie of fire trucks, both modern and antique from around the region and state.

Friday's activities will then shift again to the Hartl Ag Building at the Fairgrounds where a meal, refreshments and entertainment for registered attendees will round out the day.

The convention will reconvene Saturday morning at the High School where reports will be heard; Battalion Chief Sheridan will once again speak; and election of officers will be conducted to fill various state positions. Door prize drawings will also be part of the action with the convention expected to adjourn around noon.

Schatschneider said West Fargo Fire Department members are excited to be hosting this event. "We look forward to seeing that all attendees have a pleasant and memorable stay in our region."

The present West Fargo Fire Department is 47 members strong, made up of three regular employees and 44 volunteer firefighters.