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Fire company parade is a matter of pride for firefighters

August 06, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, PA. - "What do they do if there is a fire?" one Greencastle resident asked as he watched fire companies from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia parade past.

When asked that same question, Harry Gsell, chief engineer of Greencastle Rescue Hose Co. No. 1 laughed and said, "There are crews manning the stations."

While crews manned the stations to ease the minds of the public, the rest of the Cumberland Valley firefighting forces gathered in Greencastle for the 105th annual Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen's Association Convention.

According to Gsell, the association is one of the largest multi-state firemen's associations in the country.

The association's five-day convention culminated Saturday with a parade through the streets of Greencastle.

"It's a chance for the companies to show off their apparatus," said Ray Mowen, chairman of the Convention Committee.

Mowen said that the convention both maintains brotherhood among firefighters and provides insight into what other companies are doing.

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"There are a lot of ideas sitting in that field, and a lot of money, too," he said as he scanned the firetrucks waiting to be judged.

Gsell agreed with Mowen, saying that while members also conduct business, such as selecting new officers, the week is more about seeing other firefighters.

Jason Duncan, firefighter with the Aetna Hose Hook & Ladder Company of Newark, Del., appreciated the camaraderie aspect of the convention.

"It's great to bring us all together," he said.

In addition to conducting its general business, this year, the convention focused on its Responder Safety Committee.

"The big thing this year was the safety of responders on the highway," Mowen said.

Citing incidents where responders were killed on the highway, Mowen said that the committee's goal was to establish practices to ensure that responders come back alive.

Gsell said that the convention is also a way to showcase the host company. Greencastle elected to host the convention in 2006 because it coincided with the company's 110th Anniversary Celebration.

"Usually companies host these to celebrate something," Mowen said.

"It's about pride," Gsell said. For the Greencastle Rescue Hose Co., the convention provided an opportunity to show off not only their equipment, but their museum as well.

The last time Greencastle hosted the convention was 1995. Next year's convention will be in Winchester, Va.

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