Five Mile Beach VFA History
In September 1969, I was a delegate to the annual convention, which was held in Atlantic City, from the West Wildwood Volunteer Fire Company. This was the first convention I attended. Not knowing what to expect, I reviewed the program for the convention. I learned that Saturday morning was the time to "select the site for the 1974 convention."
I drove home late Friday afternoon, and stopped to see Mayor Charles Masciarella, and asked him if the Wildwoods ever made any attempt to lure the convention away from Atlantic City. He said that he understood that the firemen did not want to come to Wildwood, but did not know why. I decided to make a motion to bring the convention to the Wildwoods.
The Saturday morning, when it came time to make the motion for the 1974 site selection, I did make the motion.
To my surprise, Walter Treen, a local Wildwood realtor, who was also the treasurer of the New Jersey State Firemen's Relief Association, told the 3,000 delegates that he opposed going to Wildwood, "since after Labor Day, the Wildwoods roll up the sidewalks"; that there is nothing to do and that all restaurants are closed.
My motion to move the convention to the Wildwoods died, with resounding "boos"!
I made up my mind that I was going to try again in September 1970. During the winter of 1970, I met with the Mayors of the Wildwoods, the President of the Greater Wildwood Hotel-Motel Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Wildwood Parking Authority, the Wildwood Convention Hall Authority and every fire company on Five Mile Beach.
A detailed program was assembled, including free parking for delegates, discounted hotel rates, discounted amusement rides, a free dance
to be held in Convention Hall on Friday evening and a GIGANTIC PARADE, which was always denied to the firemen when the convention
was in Atlantic City.
As a point of information, I had learned from my brief attendance at the 1969 convention, that many firemen were not happy with the accommodations or treatment they had received in Atlantic City. Secondly, given the then crime problems in Atlantic City, the great
majority of firemen did not bring the families to the convention.
'1Armed with a fantastic proposal", I attended the September 17-18, 1970 convention in Atlantic City, determined that I was not
going to be booed again.
Owning A.B.S. Sign Company in Wildwood, I made up a full size poster, declaring "Wildwood in 1975", with appropriate details about hotel rates,
a new Convention Hall, free parking, and a GIGANTIC PARADE!
The presentation I made to 3300 delegates on the floor of Atlantic City's Convention Hall on September 18, 1970, to move the convention to the Wildwoods in 1975, can be found printed "verbatim" in the 1970 redbook containing the minutes of the convention.
When I concluded my presentation, 3296 out of 3300 delegates stood up in unison to approve the convention for the Wildwoods in 1975. Four delegates from Atlantic City voted no. The then officers of the association were not happy with the suggested move to the Wildwoods. Accordingly, in 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974, there were attempts to change the vote. At each of those conventions, I defended the 1970 vote, and the motions to change the 1970 decision were soundly defeated.
As the saying goes, "the rest is history". As a result of Bob Hentges actions the Convention Committee was formed and shortly thereafter
the formal organization of the Five Mile Beach Volunteer Firemen's Association. ' To be continued... We are presently preparing the history of the rest of 25 years that the Convention has been in Wildwood. Please check back.
What Do We Do?
One the main reasons why the Five Mile Beach Volunteer Firemen's Association was formed was to conduct the Parade and
Exhibition that coincides with the New Jersey State Firemen's Association's annual Convention. The NJ State Firemen's Parade is a four
and a half hour - two mile long parade starting in Wildwood Crest and ending in North Wildwood. Over 300 pieces of Apparatus from
over 4 states compete for prizes. The Exhibition of Fire Apparatus and Fire Related items is by far one of the largest exhibitions of its
kind East of the Mississippi. Regularly the attendance has been over 20,000 guests. Currently there is a waiting list for exhibitors to be able to vend their wares. We also produce the Official Convention Mug.This is the only mug that is sanctioned by the NJ State Firemen's Relief Association.
We hope to have the complete list of mugs and photos of each online in the near future.
How Do We Do It?
Just like your local fire companies the FMBVFA meets regularly throughout out the year. We meet monthly for 10 months and weekly in August and September.We have committees which handle each separate event within the event, such as the Exhibition Committee, Mug Committee and Parade Committees to name a few.Each member fire company names 3 delegates annually to the FMBVFA and also each member fire company has 4 trustee members in the FMBVFA.Meetings are conducted by a set of bylaws.We have elections for officers of the Association.Most of the work is done in early spring when letters have to go to printers, sample mugs are viewed, and plans are discussed for the upcoming year.As convention time approaches delegates and trustee members will go back to their respective fire companies and advise their membership where help is needed during convention week. Proceeds from the activities promoted by the FMBVFA are divided by the member fire companies with each getting an equal share. These funds supplement the normal fund raisers of these fire companies and are used for training, equipment and fire station improvements.