More than 250 firefighters from across the state came to Washington to celebrate all things fire and rescue this past weekend as the city and its fire department hosted the annual convention of the Association of Missouri firefighters.
“It went exceptionally well,” Washington Fire Department Chief Tim Frankenberg said.
Frankenberg estimated that about 250 to 275 firefighters, representing 25 departments, attended the Firefighters Association board meeting on Sunday morning, which capped off the weekend’s festivities.
Hunter Hanes was one of those firefighters. He came to Washington from Galt, a town in north-central Missouri about a 30-minute drive from Chillicothe, where he works for the Galt Fire Protection District, which brought 10 to 15 firefighters to the conference, did he declare.
“It was awesome,” Hanes said. “I love the city and coming here has been fun.”
He said he enjoys seeing firefighters from across the state, including some he’s met at previous firefighter events. “It’s nice to interact with a lot of people you meet over the years.”
Firefighters from Feuerwehr Marbach, the fire and rescue service of Marbach Am Neckar, Washington’s sister city in Germany, traveled the farthest distance to participate in the convention.
“We had a great time here,” said Andreas Lorenzen, one of the German firefighters. “Great hospitality. Especially for our new guys, it’s great to see what’s happening here in Washington and also with other fire departments in the state. It was a good experience.”
Lorenzen, who has been to Washington more than 20 times over the years, said he and his German colleagues have enjoyed learning different approaches and methods of firefighting from other firefighters.
“It’s always good to see firefighters here, talk to them and find out how the profession is doing here,” he says. “It’s always interesting.”
The Washington Fire Department also enjoyed the event.
“It was a fantastic event,” said Washington Fire Department firefighter John Borgmann. “We had a great competition; the weather has been great. It was a great convention.
The weekend included training programs for firefighters who wanted to learn a new skill or hone old ones; competitions where firefighters could compete and demonstrate these skills; a parade where the departments were able to show off their fire engines; a banquet at KC Hall; a silent auction of firefighting memorabilia; and a meeting of the Missouri Firefighters Association Board of Directors.
The parade drew large crowds to downtown Washington on Saturday, where throngs watched fire engines from across the state, including historic fire trucks that are no longer in use.
Morgan Murphy, 9, and her babysitter, Andrea Holdmeier, watched the parade.
Murphy said his favorites are historic trucks. She enjoyed “seeing over the years how much they have grown and changed”.
Holdmeier also enjoyed the event. “It was something fun to do – something you don’t see every day,” Holdmeier said.
Frankenberg said the community was supportive throughout the weekend. “It was a good weekend,” he said. “We’re happy to have him behind us – but very, very happy that it went very, very well.”