ELLSWORTH, Maine — The city’s population will swell next year when Ellsworth hosts the 50th annual Maine State Federation of Firefighters convention.
“It’s great honor to host the 50th,” said Ellsworth’s deputy fire chief, Kevin DePrenger, Wednesday. “It’s a big deal in the firefighting community, and I hope that all of our local businesses are happy and will benefit from the influx of people.”
DePrenger said more than 1,000 firefighters from around the state will descend on Ellsworth during the weekend-long convention in September 2013. With the addition of family members, he said total attendance could top 2,000.
The annual convention usually includes a parade, entertainment, a banquet, firefighting equipment vendor exhibitions, award ceremonies and the MSFFF’s annual meeting. Then there’s the “fire department muster,” during which departments compete with each other in a test of firefighting tasks. The city also hopes to set a Guinness World Record for most fire trucks in a parade.
Ellsworth has hosted the convention three times before: in 1975, 1984 and 1996. The city submitted its application to host the convention two years ago, according to MSFFF board member Albert Snow, a former Penobscot fire chief. Ellsworth beat out Rumford for the honor of hosting the 50th convention.
Snow said the conventions are an economic boon each year for the host community.
“Everybody comes,” he said. “They go to stores. They eat. Everybody stays in hotels. They’re probably pretty well filled up by now.”
DePrenger said the department has already met with several downtown business owners to plan for the three-day event. That includes businesses that may be along the parade route and others who could see a big influx in customers.
Tony Cameron, director of the Ellsworth Chamber of Commerce, said the city should be able to handle the crowd.
“September is still a very busy month tourism-wise,” he said Wednesday. “We’ll certainly see an uptick because of the firefighters convention, but I think the businesses are already prepared for large volumes.”
In other Ellsworth FD news, the department has taken on three new firefighters.
Jason “Jake” Underhill of Hope, Brandon Randall of Brewer and Adam Brackett of East Millinocket all started work this month.
Two of the positions, Randall’s and Brackett’s, were funded by a federal grant that will pay their salaries and benefits for two years. Underhill’s was funded by the city in the usual way. The hirings bring the city’s full-time firefighting force to 12.
Follow Mario Moretto on Twitter at @riocarmine.