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DL hosting State Fire Convention

this year's state fire Convention will include a parade and other events on June 1-4.

Not that there is ever a good time for an unexpected fire to break out, but if it happens to anybody around Detroit Lakes next weekend, they are in some serious luck.

Three hundred to 400 firefighters are descending upon the city for the 136th annual Minnesota State Fire Convention, which goes from June 1-4.

Detroit Lakes was chosen to host the event, which is open to every Minnesota firefighter and their spouses.

"We're usually chosen to hosts the convention every five to six years," said Detroit Lakes Fire Chief Dave Baer, "It's kind of like getting to host the Olympics," he laughs.

DL firefighters might feel like that much prep had gone into putting it all together, too.

"We have been working on this thing for a few years now," said Baer, "We have 30 firefighters and every one has been assigned to a group with a different task."

Those firefighters-turned-event planners have put together an itinerary jam-packed with activities.

One group of guys is working on registration.

"We have at least 300 firefighters signed up right now, and I think we're down a little bit this year because of the economy -- cities maybe cutting back a little bit on spending."

One group is working on hotel accommodations.

"Every hotel in town is booked up," said Baer, "Maybe you'll be able to find a stray room or two, but we locked hundreds of rooms down for the event."

Another group is working on vendor displays at the Kent Freeman Ice Arena.

"They'll get a chance to go and see the latest fire equipment and new tools, and maybe buy some things for their department," said Baer.

Another crew is working on putting together a training day at M State in DL.

"They'll learn about different trainings that are out there -- house fires, arson investigation, relief association -- it gives us a chance to talk about some of the fires we have had and learn about how the others handled a situation or ways of doing things that we could implement at our station or visa versa," said Baer.

During that time, the firefighters' wives will be hosting a guest luncheon for the spouses at the Speak Easy.

"And that's a good, fun time for them to get together to talk and meet up with friends they've met at other conferences," said Baer.

Baer says Friday night will be a free night for the visiting firefighting families to check out the town.

"I'm sure you'll see a lot of firefighters and their wives out eating at local restaurants and having their favorite beverages that night."

Another group from the DL fire station is working on a Saturday morning memorial service at a local church.

"That will be to honor and remember the firefighters who have passed away," said Baer.

A few of the guys are also busy planning a parade for the public on Saturday June 4 at 3 p.m. in downtown Detroit Lakes.

"We'll have to work around the street faire, but we'll have some trucks from our department and from neighboring towns honking some horns," Baer said.

"The ladies love it because they can go to the street faire first and then hit the parade," said Baer.

After an open house at the Fire Station from 4 p.m. to 5:45 pm., the firefighting crowd will then gather back at the ice arena for a banquet, which yet another DL group is working on.

"That'll be big; we needed a place that could hold 800 people," said Baer.

The evening wraps up with a dance at the pavilion, starting at 8 p.m.

"We have somebody getting the band and working everything out there too," said Baer.

And yet another group of DL firefighters is working on getting local advertisements for a booklet they're putting together for their visitors.

"A lot of our businesses have stepped up and put ads in our pamphlet and showcased DL, and so people can get out and see some of the things the city has to offer."

And what conference attendees will offer the city in return is cash back.

"DL should be hoppin'... the restaurants should be full, the hotels should be full, and the shops should be full," said Baer, "It's a boost to get 600 to 700 people here in town, spending their money and helping our economy."