There were some forward thinking members of the fire service in Missouri in the mid 1950’s who thought that there interest were not being addressed at the state level. These folks were just like the present members of your local fire department. Most were volunteers who worked as car dealers, farmers, welders, concrete finishers and many other trades. Some were local ministers, bankers, and leaders of their respective communities. They all had one thing in common. They wanted a voice in politics in Jefferson City and they wanted recognition for their efforts as members of their local fire department. They also wanted a way that thoughts and ideas that would improve the emergency services in the state could be shared with one another for the greater improvement of the service.
1954 – 1955
And what was going on in 1954 -1955 along with these thoughts:
- Dwight David Eisenhower was the President. He made the decision on February 12th of 1955 to send the first military advisors to South Vietnam. That same month he conducted the very first presidential news conference on a TV network.
- On a slightly lighter note, excuse the pun, the McGuire Sisters song, Sincerely was number one on the national charts and stayed there for ten weeks.
- On February 13, 1955, KRCG/TV in Jefferson City started broadcasting!
- On March 5, Elvis Presley made his very first TV appearance on the show Louisiana Hayride.
- If you had a TV at the time, your were more than likely watching Dragnet, I Love Lucy, The Jackie Gleason Show and the kids were really in to Howdy Doody.
- Top Billboard hits were Tony Bennett’s Rags to Riches and Doris Day’s Secret Love. That was the era in music that you could actually understand the words to a song and a real orchestra backed up the singer with a musical score in front of them.
- If you local fire department wanted to go “all out” and purchase a custom Ahrens-Fox 750 GPM pumper the price tag in 1955 would be between twelve and fifteen thousand dollars, depending on how many “bells and whistles” you wanted on the rig.
THE FIRST CONVENTION
The F.F.A.M was formed and the first officers and directors elected at an October 17, 1954 meeting held in Jefferson City, Missouri. The first convention was held in Columbia, Missouri on April 16 and 17 of 1955.
The program was opened at the Pennant Hotel at eight in the morning and Fire Chief Max Woods and other city officials welcomed the guests. Speakers for the day included President George V. “Spud” Allers from the Desloge Volunteer Fire Department in Flat River: John Barman, the chief engineer of the Missouri Inspection Bureau: Joseph Fetters, administrative assistant in charge of Firemanship Training at the University of Missouri and Bush Walden, university fire instructor.
The Columbia Fire Department conducted a demonstration on Saturday afternoon, which included ladder drills and life net operations.
THE LAST CONVENTION
We can now say that the 60th Convention has now been entered into the history books, as of yesterday. I must say that it was one of the most memorable for me for a number of reasons. I was also in Festus for the other two conventions in 1964 and 1996 that this fine organization hosted and they have again outdone themselves. Thanks to the dedication and strength of all the departments in Jefferson County and the various F.F.A.M committees, it was a huge success. It was great to see the theme for the convention carried out. It illustrated clearly the “Sixty Years Of Brotherhood In The Fire Service”.
Most folks who know me have rarely seen me speechless! I came fairly close on Saturday night at the banquet when I was awarded the “Phillip Sayer Lifetime Achievement Award’. To say it was a great highlight of my life is an under statement. Phil was a very close friend and I still miss him every day. To receive an award with his name on it makes me very proud. My sincere thanks to all who made it happen and to my family for sharing the moment with me.