- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2002

OCEAN CITY, Md. More than 400 firetrucks, ambulances and antique cars from across the state paraded through this resort town yesterday at the 110th convention of the Maryland State Firemen's Association.
The parade was led by an honor guard from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Team, followed by Mayor Jim Mathias in a 1919 D.C. Fire Department Model T and a dozen red fire trucks from the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company.
Thousands of tourists lined Baltimore Street for the parade, which also featured high school marching bands and majorettes twirling batons.
Mr. Mathias said the annual gathering has a long, proud tradition in Ocean City, although tragic events this past year the September 11 terrorist attacks and two deadly Maryland tornadoes are reminders of the service firefighters provide.
"From the World Trade Center in New York to La Plata and College Park, the firefighters are there first, and we're here to say thank you for that," Mr. Mathias said.
Ed Preston, the former president of the association and a member of the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department, said the events of September 11 have left a mark on firefighters, showing what can happen in a worst-case scenario
"It's a different world," he said.
The annual convention is an opportunity for volunteer firefighters from the state's 370 companies to meet, swap stories and eat some crabs.
It's also a week of seminars and training. This year, there were graphic presentations on what firefighters encountered after planes crashed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.
Mr. Preston, 74, said it was unpleasant to see, but it is important to firefighters to be aware of what they may have to face.
"We have probably seen some things during this week the public would not want to see," he said.


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