By Tina Comeau
As Yarmouth heads into a summer of uncertainty in terms of tourism, a convention being held here July 4-7 is helping to temporarily fire things up.
Around 450 delegates are expected at the 96th annual Maritime Fire Chiefs Association convention. Those coming to town for the convention include fire chiefs, firefighters and their families, convention presenters and product manufacturers.
The convention is being hosted by the Yarmouth County Mutual Aid Association. There are 14 fire departments in Yarmouth County.
Yarmouth Fire Department platoon chief Lynn Seeley, who is the chair of the convention organizing committee, says hotels and motels in the area are filled.
The Mariners Centre will host the convention sessions and activities. The last time this area hosted this convention was in the late 1990s at the old rink.
Much of the focus during the convention will be on firefighting safety and the latest in apparatus. Although the convention is not open to the general public, the area will benefit from the economic spin-off of the money being spent while delegates are in town, in addition to the information and training firefighters pick up.
Aside from the sessions for fire chiefs and firefighters, Seeley notes a partners program and a children’s program have been organized for the families of firefighters. The partners’ program includes visits to the Wedgeport Tuna Museum, the Acadian village in West Pubnico, other sightseeing and shopping. The children’s program includes a day of activities at Ellenwood Provincial Park, a farm day and visits to the museums, including, of course, the Firefighters’ Museum of Nova Scotia.
Seeley notes that the absence of The Cat ferry did mean a couple of product vendors were not able to travel to Yarmouth for the convention. But overall the absence of the ferry did not hurt the convention as much as had been earlier worried. One concern when the convention was in the planning stages months ago was whether some hotels and motels would still have their doors open when the convention rolled into town.
The first evening of the convention will include a church service at Yarmouth Wesleyan Church and a parade to the Mariners Centre.