FASNY Convention 2013…Prevention First

Built around the theme “Prevention First,” the 141st Annual FASNY Convention was a creative blend of business, education and fun. Just like a successful Broadway play, preparation for the four-day event began months ago. “We pretty much start discussing the arrangements for the next Convention even before the current one is over,” said Jessica Kirk, FASNY education and events manager.

After several years at various locations, FASNY’s premier membership get-together was brought to the Desmond Hotel and Convention Center located just outside of Albany in the town of Colonie. The central location of this new venue provides greater access to FASNY members from around the state and offers enhanced meeting and training capabilities.
While the Convention Committee has been in high gear for months, their activity level peaked the weekend before the actual Convention began.

Beginning Monday, Aug. 19, teams of FASNY volunteers and staffers were checking – and double-checking – everything from the booth setups in the exhibit hall to the audio-visual and computer equipment throughout the hotel. Then, suddenly, Tuesday was here and the registration tables were open. Tuesday also saw one of the most traditional social activities of the Convention, the Past Presidents Dinner. Sponsored by Provident Insurance and the FASNY Federal Credit Union, the event was a great opportunity to connect with old friends and to honor the service of those who have led our organization over the years.

Wednesday greeted the Convention delegates with a change from previous years. The Annual Memorial Service Remembering Our Deceased Members began the list of official activities. The Memorial Service is always one of the most well-attended events, and this year was no exception with more than 330 people present.
Upon completion of the Memorial Service, FASNY President Jim Burns officially opened FASNY’s 141st Annual Convention by welcoming the delegates and giving a recap of the previous year’s accomplishments.

After the opening session concluded, Convention goers had the day to tour the Albany International Airport Fire Rescue facility, visit the exhibitors at the Convention venue, explore the many shopping opportunities the Albany area has to offer or attend the informative Foreign Insurance 2% Forum.
The day’s social activities concluded with a dinner cruise on the Hudson River aboard the Captain JP sponsored by Kidde. The first-ever Hands-On Training event at the Convention drew a capacity crowd of 50 and earned excellent feedback.

Thursday was jam-packed with classroom and hands-on training opportunities. Classroom topics echoed the Convention theme of “Prevention First” and ranged from being prepared to respond to natural disasters to having the proper materials in your fire safety toolkit.
FASNY President Burns presented lifetime achievement resolutions to FASNY Past President Gunnar Neilson and John Flanagan at the annual meeting of the New York State Codes Coalition. These two individuals have worked tirelessly for decades to make New York a safer place to live and to unite the code enforcement and fire service communities in pursuing common goals.

Social activities on the last full day of the Convention included a scenic bus tour of the Hudson Valley with stops at the Olana Historic Site and the FASNY Museum of Firefighting. After a day of sightseeing, Convention attendees had the opportunity to let their hair down at an evening get-together called “Life’s a Beach Party.” The Hawaiian-style event was sponsored by apparatus manufacturer KME Kovatch.

More than 50 junior firefighters came out for the Fifth Annual Youth Day sponsored by Alesco Advisors – another huge success on the grounds of the Town of Colonie Fire Training Facility.
After the adoption of resolutions and the election of unopposed candidates Friday, the oath of office was given to the new FASNY Directors and Trustees of the Firemen’s Home.
The Scholarship Committee presented its year-end report and accepted donations toward next year’s scholarships. More than $13,000 was raised for the scholarship fund during the course of the Convention.

In his report, Sergeant-at-Arms Ken Holmes told the members present that more than 700 FASNY members had registered for the Convention and attendance at the primary program sessions was excellent. The ever-popular FASNY Heroes Award Ceremony, sponsored by VFIS, recognized the dedication and selfless service of two individuals who have risen above the normal call of duty.  The 2012 honorees were Springs Volunteer Fire Department AEMT Karen L. Haab (EMS Provider of the Year) and Ex-Chief John Curley of the Bellmore Fire Department (Firefighter of the Year). From the first-class accommodations of the Desmond Hotel to the local media coverage, from the excellent training facilities to the fun social activities, one might think that Convention 2013 could be a hard act to follow. All we have to say is just wait to see what we have in store for next year.

– John D’Alessandro