Firefighters fill the town
Residents can sleep a little sounder this weekend with little to worry about in terms of fire blazing through town as more than 400 firefighters are attending the 125th annual North Dakota Firefighter's Association State Convention in Dickinson.
Bob Sivak, Dickinson fire chief, said he's excited to host the convention, especially such an historic one.
"It's a great honor. Not only because it's the 125th, but it's a historic time for the North Dakota State Firefighters Association," Sivak said. "People like to come to Dickinson.
"We have a reputation of putting on a good convention, of taking care of our guests and we generally have a good showing."
Assistant fire management officer for the U.S. Forest Service's Little Missouri Zone, Oscar Knudtson said it's nice to have the convention in Dickinson because he doesn't have to travel as far as in years past.
"I think the best part of the conference is getting together with fellow firefighters from all across the state, renewing old friendships and discussing the business of firefighters in North Dakota," Knudtson said.
The convention kicked off Thursday with a golf tournament and registration. It will continue today and Saturday with a gamut of speakers, including North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
The two keynotes for the event are Brooks Martin and Rick Graba with the Cathy Hedrick Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Eddie Buchanan with the International Society of Fire Service Instructors.
There is a memorial service for fallen firefighters and a parade today at 4:30 p.m. on Villard Street from 13th Avenue West to First Avenue East.
"It's a time to reflect back and it's also a time to recharge the batteries to move forward and do our duty," Bismarck Fire Chief Joel Boespflug said, adding the convention "gives a light side to the business, but still with a very targeted agenda."
Sivak said state officers are elected and decisions are made during the convention. And with record funding from the state approved this year there are big decisions to be made in regards to enhanced training.
"The biggest reason is probably the camaraderie and the networking you get to do with everybody else," Garrison Fire Chief Bruce Schreiner said of the convention. "It's a great place to network with 400 other firefighters from across the state. Get to see new equipment and things like that."
Sivak said it's a great time for Dickinson to show off.
"Absolutely, we've been cleaning the trucks and the hall and gathering together our gifts and door prizes and the department has done an outstanding job of putting together what we're considering a great convention," Sivak said. "All indications are we're going to have great attendance at this convention."