(June 19, 2015) Everyone is invited to join the thousands of firefighters for demonstrations, exhibits, a parade and events during the 123rd annual Convention and Conference of the Maryland State Fireman’s Association and Ladies Auxiliary, June 20-26.
“We have family-oriented activities for firefighters and their families and events just for kids. It’s kind of nice. The numbers fluctuate on the schools being out and we encourage families,” said Ron Siarnicki, convention chair. “What better place than Ocean City? Bring your family to the beach.”
The convention is free to the public and takes place at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on 40th Street. There will be a variety of local vendors selling merchandise as well as informational and awards presentations all surrounding firefighting in this state.
Close to 30,000 come to town for the event each year, Siarnicki said.
Several events highlight the annual MSFA gathering and one of the most popular is the parade along Baltimore Avenue. Around 600 units will take part in the procession on Wednesday, June 24, traveling from 16th to 33rd Street starting at 1 p.m.
Other big events include a family night at Jolly Roger Amusement Park, Purse and Bag Bingo, a prayer breakfast and the annual MSFA Golf Tournament.
MSFA Night at Jolly Roger takes place Monday, June 22 from 6:30-11 p.m. at the amusement park on 30th Street. There will be music, food and unlimited rides, rounds of miniature golf and trips around the go cart track during the event. For the amusement park and food the cost is $22 per person. A family of four for both is $75. Visit www.msfa.org for additional packages and to reserve tickets in advance.
“We are trying to build our convention into a family event. It’s a chance for our state’s firefighters to receive some training and have an awesome Ocean City experience with their families,” Siarnicki said.
Purse and Bag Bingo also takes place Monday. Doors open at the convention center Bayfront Ballroom at 5 p.m. for the games starting at 6 p.m. Admission is $22 in advance and $25 at the door, which includes six face cards for 20 games as well as a door prize ticket. Coach, Vera Bradley, Thirty-One and Longaberger will be featured.
The prayer breakfast takes place Wednesday, June 24 at 7:30 a.m. in the convention center’s Bayfront Ballroom with Chaplain Preston “TJ” Lay of the Laurel, Del. Volunteer Fire Company as the guest speaker. Admission cost is $13 and includes an all-you-can-eat country breakfast with scrambled eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, biscuits, fresh fruit and more.
The 23rd annual MFSA Golf Tournament takes place next Friday, June 26, at Eagles Landing Golf Course in Berlin. Tee time is 7 a.m. and most spots are filled. Complimentary beer will be provided on the course, prizes and a continental breakfast for $75.
“We are really excited. Mayor Rick Meehan is our celebrity playing in the event and it’s a great fundraiser for programs throughout the state,” Siarnicki said.
To celebrate the arrival of firefighters in town, the Ocean City FOOLS — Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society International for advanced firefighter training — will present its sixth annual block party to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Cowboy Coast Country Bar and Steak House on 17th Street and Philadelphia Avenue will host the event on Tuesday, June 23 from 6:30 p.m. to close.
A $10 entry fee includes a souvenir mug, food and drink specials throughout the night and live music. There will also be a 50/50 raffle and a mechanical bull-riding contest with prizes awarded to the person who stays on the longest. The Franklin Square Live Band will perform and DJ Wax will provide the tunes.
The Ocean City FOOLS keep the party going in the morning with its first 8 a.m. 5K run and walk on the Boardwalk at North Division Street.
“It’s open to the public with a minimal registration fee to benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation,” Siarnicki said. “It’s intended to be a healthy walk, no competition. A nice activity for the whole family on the Boardwalk.”
The MSFA Ladies Auxiliary will host a Salty Coast paint party on Thursday, June 25 from 2-4 p.m. in the Ocean City convention center room 208. Purchase tickets for $45 at www.tickled-paint.com or call 410-713-2013.
All presentations, educational classes and awards ceremonies during the MSFA conference are open to the public, Siarnicki said.
“For firefighters, they are exposed to great training opportunities that are fire specific and the public gets to see what our fire service does each day to keep everyone safe,” he added.
Awards will be presented on Tuesday, June 23, starting at 8:30 a.m. in the Bayfront Ballroom.
There will be presentations throughout the event, such as Liz Marks keynote presentation on Monday, “Don’t Text N Drive 4 Liz Marks,” where attendees will hear her devastating story of driving into the back of a truck near St. Michaels while texting. Other talks include “Why Sprinklered Buildings Burn” on Monday and Wednesday or “Prevention Through Testing and Research” on Sunday and Monday.
The Convention Committee and the Ocean City FOOLS have teamed up to provide not only classroom sessions, but hands-on training opportunities as well.
“This year, there are a lot more hands-on live evolutions where firefighters are not just getting a tutorial, but they are doing something and using their skills,” Siarnicki said.
A four-hour “Making the Cut” Sunday class will go over the tools for venting and flat roofs. On Tuesday, an eight-hour “Firefighter Survival Class” teaches techniques on how to help a down firefighter.
“We hope people will come out and watch the parade or take advantage of the activities,” Siarnicki said. “We are truly happy to be in Ocean City. What a great town to be in.”
Convention headquarters will again be the Quality Inn Boardwalk on 17th Street, providing an easy drive or ride on Ocean City’s public bus to the MSFA conference. There will be a free shuttle service from the bus stops and parking lot to the front door of the convention center.
For more information on the events activities, visit www.msfa.org to download a full schedule of MSFA Convention and Conference events taking place June 20-26 at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on 40th Street.