Arnold ready to host Western Pa. Firemen’s Convention |
Valley News Dispatch

Arnold ready to host Western Pa. Firemen’s Convention

Chuck Biedka
Tribune-Review file photo
Monessen firefighters (right) face off against Arnold firefighters in the Western Pennsylvania Firemen’s convention’s “Battle of the Barrel” contest in Vandergrift last year.
Western Pennsylvania Firemen’s Association patch
Chuck Biedka | Tribune-Review
Grass is cut behind the Arnold police station to prepare the area for a “tent city” that will house hundreds of firefighters during the Western Pennsylvania Firemen’s Convention this week.

Volunteer firefighters from across the region and numerous state fire officials will meet in Arnold next week for the annual convention for the Western Pennsylvania Firemen’s Association.

The Aug. 8-14 convention will be the fifth to be held in Arnold since the 1950s and the first since 1996, according to planning director and former Arnold No. 2 chief Willie Weber.

“It will bring recognition to Arnold and firefighters,” Arnold No. 2 Capt. David Bridgen said. He said preparation work by No. 1 and 2 firefighters was under way last week to get it ready for the campers at a lot behind the Arnold police station and Arnold No. 1 fire station.

“I’m glad to have them in town,” Arnold Mayor Karen Peconi said. “They do so much for the community throughout the year.”

She said tthere will be a memorial service, business sessions and even some time to relax.

It will bring recognition to the city and the visiting firefighters will spend some money in this area, she said.

Arnold fire Chief J.C. Tedorsky said the city will roll out the welcome mat for visiting firefighters but local crews will remain ready to answer any alarms.

“If we get a call, we go,” Tedorsky said.

Weber said the annual convention memorial service will be held at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Calvary Lutheran Church, 1721 Victoria Ave.

Among the other popular convention features will be the battle of the barrel matchups Saturday.

In the contest, teams of firefighters try to move a barrel with water from fire hoses, akin to a tug-of-war. The battles will start at 9 a.m..

About 2,500 firefighters from as many as 100 companies are scheduled to take part in a parade that will kick off at 6 p.m. Aug. 11, Weber said.

From 1 to 4 p.m., there will be parade unit judging at Valley High School.

Units will begin lining up on three streets toward the top of Drey Street at 5 p.m. and, at 6 p.m., proceed down Drey to Fifth Avenue and then to 14th Street and finally to Fourth Avenue, Weber said. A ladies auxiliary meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. in tent city Aug. 12 and the convention business meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Aug. 13, with elections of officers just after lunch.

Awards for valor will be presented at a banquet at 5 p.m. Aug. 13 at Harry’s Place, 1735 Fourth Ave., Arnold No. 2 firefighter Chris O’Leath said. At that time, winners of more than 20 college scholarships from the association will be announced. O’Leath said the Western Pennsylvania association is the largest in the state.

“At one time, there would be more than 10,000 attending,” said Weber, whose father, Walter, was a fireman and convention organizer in the 1950s and 1960s.

Weber, 57, said he attended his first convention when he was 1 year old. “They put me on a cot and I was asleep, they told me. Dad and some of the others were playing cards,” he said.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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