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National firefighter groups enjoy conventions in Lake George

Members of the State Benefits Summit and the National Volunteer Fire Council pose for a group photograph in the Lake George fire station after a dinner hosted Sept. 27 by local firefighters.

Members of the State Benefits Summit and the National Volunteer Fire Council pose for a group photograph in the Lake George fire station after a dinner hosted Sept. 27 by local firefighters.

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Enjoying a cruise on Lake George Sept. 29 — a featured event of two national fire conventions held locally this week — are (left to right): Lake George Fire Dept. President Tom McKinney of Lake George and his wife Kim, Lake George Fire Dept. Secretary Barbara McGuirk, and FASNY Director Brian McQueen and his wife Sarah. Musical entertainment was provided by Tim and Todd Lawson.

— Two national organizations of volunteer firefighters held conferences in Lake George last week, and members of the groups said Lake George was their top choice nationally as a site for such gatherings.

Convening were members of the national State Benefits Summit and the National Volunteer Fire Council.

Both met to discuss issues of funding, volunteer recruitment and retention, legislative developments, and other issues facing volunteer fire service.

Hosting the two conferences from Sept. 24 through Oct. 1 were the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) and the Lake George Volunteer Fire Department.

The week’s meetings and events were centered at the Fort William Henry Resort.

FASNY President David Jacobowitz said he was pleased to host the two conferences in Lake George that wre attended by well over 120 volunteer firefighter officials.

"By sharing solutions to common concerns, we continually push fire service in a positive direction,” he said.

The national fire council’s board meeting drew fire officials representing more than half of the 49 states of the continental U.S.

The groups enjoyed cruises, sightseeing and a dinner hosted by the Lake George firefighters at their fire hall, Jacobowitz said.

“We are happy to host meetings in Lake George, because the local fire department is so accommodating,” Jacobowitz said. “This is the Lake Tahoe of the eastern U.S.”

One of the reasons Lake George was chosen over other sites nationally, Jacobowitz said, was that Lake George is family oriented — with no gambling.

“Firefighting officials bring their families and turn these conferences into a vacation,” he said.

Lake George Volunteer Fire Department Secretary Barbara McGuirk said local firefighters were happy to host a mass dinner Sept. 27 at their fire station. Brian Engle of Warrensburg was the head chef for the roast beef dinner, she said.

Enjoying a hospitality session at Fort William Henry Sept. 27, Mark McNees of Atlantic, Iowa said he preferred Lake George to Lake Tahoe, a previous convention site.

“Lake George is less commercialized, and it’s far friendlier,” he said. “It’s a tourist destination, but it doesn’t seem ‘touristy.’”

A fellow fire official, John Heideman, seconded the point. He said he particularly enjoyed the cruise on Lake George narrated by in engaging detail by Lake George Fire Department president Tom McKinney.

“It’s beautiful, very serene here,” he said.

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