Since that casual conversation between a few firefighters in the summer of 1872, the annual FASNY Convention’s one constant has always been to highlight the organization’s dedication to educate, train and inform the volunteer firefighters of New York State. Along the way, FASNY also become an activist and advocate for safer working conditions, the allocation of necessary resources and the recruitment of the next generation.
As the organization continues to grow and evolve, so does the scope of the annual convention. For the second year in a row, the Desmond Hotel and Conference Center near Albany played host to FASNY’s annual get-together. FASNY hosted the First Annual Fallen Firefighters Golf Tournament to benefit the New York State Fallen Firefighters Memorial and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
Monday, August 18. More than 80 golfers participated to exceed expectations for the inaugural event. Tuesday morning began with a general meeting of FASNY leadership and the membership of key standing committees. This annual event was incorporated into the Convention program last year to enable committee members to interact, be briefed on committee activities and allow for new committee members to meet their peers. Just like the commitment of time and effort they give to their communities, FASNY committee members are dedicated to advance the interests of the volunteer fire service in New York.
Past presidents Bernie Boulio, Carl Veltri, Gunnar Neilson, Tom Eiswerth, Joe Finnegan, Michael Wutz and David Jacobowitz had the opportunity to reminisce and socialize with old friends and new members alike at the Past Presidents Dinner Tuesday night.
Official Convention business began on Wednesday with the Annual Memorial Service remembering our deceased brothers and sisters who left us this past year. This solemn ceremony is not only a longstanding part of the convention agenda, but signifies the firefighters’ belief that we should never forget those who have gone before and paved the way for us. This year, FASNY introduced a memorial area where attendees could reflect and view a presentation paying tribute to those no longer with us.
The 142nd Annual Convention was then officially called to order by President Jim Burns. In addition to the opening session, Wednesday also saw the holding of the extremely popular 2% Tax Forum and the Annual Meeting of the FASNY Federal Credit Union, which included a farewell presentation for retiring employee Jerry Piccolo.
Thursday of Convention week was once again reserved for training. The Sixth Annual Youth Day, sponsored by Alesco Advisors, KME Kovatch and the Shaker Road-Loudonville Fire Department, saw close to 50 future firefighters were put through their paces involving four different evolutions conducted by instructors from around the state at the Town of Colonie Fire Training Facility. Back at the Desmond, attendees had the opportunity to participate in five informative presentations delivered by nationally recognized fire service experts. Each seminar topic addressed an issue relevant to today’s fire service like firefighter safety, mental health, situational awareness and recruitment. Thursday’s events were capped off with a Mardi Gras-themed hospitality night sponsored by KME Kovatch.
At the direction of the assembled delegates, FASNY Secretary Michael Whelan cast one vote on behalf of the entire membership for the following individuals: FASNY President Robert McConville, First Vice President Ken Pienkowski, Second Vice President Steven Klein, Director Chan Rivera and Director Michael Reid. Peter Cincotta, Dennis Eickhoff, Marilyn Schrader and Walter Geidel were also elected to the Board of Trustees of the FASNY Firemen’s Home. The oath of office was administered by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a close friend of President McConville. The formal business of the session concluded with the report of the Sergeant-at-Arms and the presentation of donations to the Gerald J. Buckenmeyer Volunteer Scholarship Fund.
As has been tradition, the last activity of the Convention was to honor two individuals that exemplify what volunteer firefighters do every day. The Heroes Award Ceremony sponsored by VFIS is one of the best-attended events of the Convention schedule. FASNY was proud to honor Firefighter William Street of the Ulster Hose Company #5 as EMS Provider of the Year and Firefighter Thomas Gorman of the Bohemia Fire Department as Firefighter of the Year.
The arrival of delegates to every annual convention is merely the culmination of months of hard work by FASNY staff and committees. While some might feel there is “no rest for the weary”, the Convention team has already set its sights on the 143rd Annual Convention and are counting the days until the delegates return to Albany for a third time. We urge you to get involved in your sectional organization, join a committee and make it a point to come to Convention. The strength of your organization lies in you and your fellow members. New York’s volunteer fire service will undoubtedly face many challenges in the years to come. Yet, just as we do on a daily basis, we will work as a team to protect those who currently serve and to prepare the way for those who are yet to come.
See you in Albany in 2015 (or at the Annual Legislative Conference, November 1-2, 2014)!
– John D’Alessandro, FASNY Deputy Volunteer Programs Coordinator