WHEATFIELD – The Western New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association convention will be back in Niagara County this week.
Events are set from Wednesday through Saturday at the St. Johnsburg Fire Company, the host organization, and behind Wheatfield Town Hall, where a “tent city” will be erected to house many of the more than 1,000 firefighters expected to attend at least some of the events. Others will stay in local motels.
A beer tent will be part of the tent city, and nightly concerts there Wednesday through Friday will be open to the public.
A firemen’s parade is set for 7 p.m. Friday down Ward Road from Homeyer Road to Town Hall, 2800 Church Road.
Wendi Walker, the first female president in the association’s 115-year history, said St. Johnsburg last hosted the event in 2005, but it’s not unusual for it to be in Niagara County or in Wheatfield.
The Town of Niagara hosted in 2006, Shawnee Fire Company held the event in 2010, and next year the Cambria Volunteer Fire Company will be the host unit.
In all, more than 300 fire companies in 11 counties belong to the association, which has more than 1,500 individual members.
“Our county is pretty active in the organization,” said Walker, a Niagara County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher who also works as a paramedic for Twin City Ambulance. She is a past president of Tri-Community Ambulance in Sanborn.
Tim Pytlik and Mike Kislack are general co-chairmen of the convention, which has been held every year since 1900. It features the association’s business meeting, as well as training seminars.
This year, Walker said, National Grid will host one seminar, and a competition for emergency medical technicians is planned.
Public events include three concerts in the beer tent behind Town Hall: the Two or Less Band at 8 p.m. Wednesday, the Black Widow Band at 8 p.m. Thursday and 90 West at 9 p.m. Friday.
Also, John Valby, well- known as “Dr. Dirty,” will perform at 6 p.m. Thursday in the St. Johnsburg Fire Hall, 7165 Ward Road.
That’s the only ticketed event of the convention; it costs $15.
Waterball, also known as nozzle practice, and other firefighting games will be held at noon Friday on the St. John Lutheran Church athletic field near Town Hall. Those will be open to the public.
The parade Friday night will cause the closure of Ward Road from Ruie Road to Niagara Falls Boulevard, as well as Homeyer and Church roads.
After the parade, a fire truck-pulling contest is set for 8:30 outside the beer tent.
The tent city will open at noon Wednesday, and association members will have private breakfasts daily in the St. Johnsburg fire hall.
Association members will be able to play in a golf tournament at Shawnee Country Club or the firefighters Olympics at the beer tent, both Thursday.
By Saturday at noontime, the event will be over, Walker said.