WHEATFIELD, N.Y. (WIVB) – Every day, the volunteer firefighters that serve Western New York communities put their lives on the line to protect their neighbors’ lives and property. This weekend, they’re letting loose and inviting their neighbors to join them.
The Western New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association’s 118th annual convention is underway now in the town of Wheatfield. It runs through Sunday, and brings together volunteer firefighters and their families from eleven counties.
In all, upwards of 1,500 people are expected to come through for part or all of the weekend’s activities, which include everything from a parade to a memorial service, to competitions, live music near the beer tent behind the Wheatfield Town Hall, and more. The band 90 West will be playing Saturday night and Black Widow will provide the entertainment Friday evening.
Organizers say they’re hoping members of the public will stop by for some of the events.
“It gives us an opportunity to have a refreshments with them and kind of find out what’s going on between us, and what we can do for them and what they can do for us,” said Gary Hunt, past chief of the Frontier Volunteer Fire Company and the co-chair of this year’s convention.
“It’s kind of a fundraiser, but also they can also meet their local firefighters, their first responders,” agreed another Frontier past chief, Rich Silvaroli, who is serving as secretary for the local committee for the convention.
All proceeds from this weekend’s convention go toward training and equipment for local firefighters, with the money split between the Western New York Firemen’s Association and the co-hosts of the convention, the Frontier Volunteer Fire Company and the St. Johnsburg Volunteer Fire Company.
This weekend’s activities offer members of the public a chance to show all of their local firefighters their support and to learn more about joining the ranks of the volunteer fire service.
“They see that we do a stressful job, but yet we can also relax and have a good time, and also it’s a good recruitment tool, too,” Silvaroli explained. “They come out here, they see how we bond together, how we’re such a close family, they may want to join that and eventually become one of our rankings.”
Volunteer fire companies across Western New York always need more volunteers to join. “Anytime anyone wants to volunteer, it’s free training,” Silvaroli said. “Just come down to one of our fire halls on a drill night. We’ll give you an application and we’ll get you going.”
More information about the Western New York Volunteer Firemen’s Association and this weekend’s convention is available online at http://www.wnyvfa.org/