‘Great’ FireFest event entertains all ages

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Ken Osborne, right, and his great-nephew Nathan Savard, 4, take a seat in his 1924 Reo hose and ladder truck at this year's FireFest event held in downtown Chatham on the weekend. Osborne's truck served the community of Baden, Ont., and was joined by many others during the day of the event, which included a parade of vehicles, demonstrations and a kids combat challenge.
Ken Osborne, right, and his great-nephew Nathan Savard, 4, take a seat in his 1924 Reo hose and ladder truck at this year’s FireFest event held in downtown Chatham on the weekend. Osborne’s truck served the community of Baden, Ont., and was joined by many others during the day of the event, which included a parade of vehicles, demonstrations and a kids combat challenge. (Sarah Schofield photo)

With FireFest 2014 in the books, Brent DeNure allowed himself a smile, albeit a tired one.

“It was great,” DeNure, one of the organizers, said of the three-day event which wrapped up Sunday. “The comments from participants and those attending the event made it all worthwhile.”

King Street from Wellington to William saw a steady stream of individuals and families examining nearly 70 fire and emergency response vehicles ranging from a hose reel car from the 1800s to a former New York Fire Department truck which served at Ground Zero in the World Trade Centre terrorist attack.

A number of safetey demonstrations and displays, many aimed at children, also drew long lines.

The event began with what was billed as a Firehouse Chat at the St. Clair Capitol Theatre. It featured actor Randolph Mantooth who played a paramedic on the TV show “Emergency,” retired NHL goalie Tim Cheveldae (currently a firefighter in Saskatchewan) and Brendan “Doogie” Milewski, a former member of the Detroit fire department and now a fire service advocate.

The marquee event was a Fire Combat Challenge, which brought firefighters from across North America together for a competition on skills related to their occupation.

DeNure credited committee members, sponsors and volunteers for their hard work.

“To have come this far this fast is just incredible,” he said. “Every time we had something to deal with, someone stepped up.”

DeNure said plans would begin soon for next year’s event.

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