As many as 3,000 firefighters from across the state are gathering in the western Iowa town of Atlantic today (Wednesday) for the 128th annual Iowa Firemen’s Association Convention.
Event chairman Mark McNees says the five-day convention will include a big parade featuring at least 100 fire trucks from all over Iowa on Saturday and a demonstration of a rare steam-powered pumper truck that dates back to the 1800s. Chariton spent $62,000 to restore its pumper truck and McNees says this is probably the only time most people will ever get to see one in action. “It’s neat to see a piece of apparatus that old actually function and how it had to be — they have to build a fire to get the steam,” he says.
McNees says 1200 campsites are reserved on 64 acres of land beside the Atlantic airport. He says the recent rains caused him some headaches in prepping the swampy area for campers. McNees says they worked on it like crazy, dragging and harrowing the main road, which is now mostly dry though a few big motor homes had to be pulled in.
The event is gathering the thousands of firefighters — and their families — through Sunday. Events include co-ed waterball and wheelbarrow water fights. Also, the Orange County Choppers’ “Fire Bike” will be on display — a tribute to the 343 firefighters killed on September 11th.
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128th annual Iowa Firemen’s Association convention