[cifnmedia] Firefighter pride on parade in OC

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  • To: "Sean Aaron" <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,"Brad Dietrick" <bradfurniturefirst@xxxxxxxxxxx>,<cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 10:04:36 -0400

Firefighter pride on parade in OC

By James Fisher
Daily Times Staff Writer 


            Spectators watch emergency vehicles parade up Baltimore Avenue on 
Wednesday during the Maryland State Firemen's Association parade. 

            Charlie Townsend and passenger Clayton Collins of Berlin drive an 
early 1900s Mack firetruck in the Maryland State Firemen's Association Parade 
on Wednesday from the Inlet to 9th Street in Ocean City.


      OCEAN CITY -- If washing and waxing a car seems like a lot of work, 
imagine going over a firetruck with a cotton swab. 

      Dozens of volunteer fire and EMS companies from the re-gion descended on 
Ocean City this week for an annual convention, treating Wednesday's afternoon 
parade up Baltimore Avenue as a highlight. With judges scattered across the 
route looking for the cleanest, neatest vehicles possible, shiny never seemed 
shiny enough. 

      Ronald Graff, a Maryland State Firemen's Association judge from Anne 
Arundel County, perched on a chair by the side of the road. He jumped up to 
give some trucks the once-over, walking around them and peering at the folded 
hoses and polished equipment. 

      Judges each have a category to handle, he said: "Mine is 1,000-gallon, 
750, 500-gallon pumpers." 

      The trucks included some of the largest fire engines in the parade. Other 
judges had the antiques to consider, like the restored 1893 tanker from 
Frederick, Md. 

      Graff said he looked for clean rigs and riders inside with good posture 
and sharp uniforms. 

      Uniforms on a smaller scale dressed the Laurel Wildcats, a drill team 
from the Laurel, Md., Boys and Girls Club. The children were waiting in a 
parking lot before the 1 p.m. parade began, practicing their moves in unison. 
Parents such as Michelle Newman and Lamin Njie stood to the side, with one eye 
on their children and another on the gray clouds overhead, which were spitting 

      "I'm dressed for any rain. No big deal," Newman said. "As soon as we 
finish here, we're on the road." 

      Her family arrived in Ocean City for the first time Monday, she said. 

      It had been a good week to visit, with consistently warm weather. 

      "We can never get enough of it," Njie said, as he captured the team's 
warm-ups and nervous preparations on video. 

      Along the parade route, Mike Berry, part of a firefighting and rescue 
team in Rockville, Md., watched the heavy equipment drive by from the bed of a 
covered pickup truck. With him was a trained rescue dog, Pierce, staring 
intently at the spectacle in front of her. 

      "She's a post-9-11 dog," Berry said, meaning a federal terrorism grant 
helped the department purchase her. "She stays with me at all times." 

      Fund raising, a constant presence in most volunteer fire departments, was 
a key part of this convention, too. 

      "We need your help today, folks. Fill the boot!" one man with a 
loudspeaker said from atop a fire truck. Others behind him passed boots as 
collection plates along the sidewalk. 

      For Berry, the meeting here was an affirmation of firefighters' values. 

      "It shows the camaraderie or brotherhood of the whole deal," he said. "We 
get together, blow off some steam, and take some time off together." 

            Reach James Fisher at 410-213-9442, Ext. 19, or 

       Email this story 

      Originally published Thursday, June 17, 2004


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