RFD Lt. Henri DeClercq looked over an attack nozzle at one vendor’s booth earlier today. (Ernie Over photo) 

(Riverton, Wyo.) – Among the large group of firefighters arriving in Riverton for the mid winter fire school on now through Sunday are the vendors who keep the fire fighting departments equipped with latest and best gear and equipment. A large selection of vendors had already set up at Fire Station #1 in the 300 block of East Washington this morning, with brochures, equipment and bunker samples, nozzles and such and other services.

At the Front Range Fire Apparatus display, Bob Crawford, Terry Marschman and Wayne Kerber were anxious to promote the products from their Frederick, Colorado based company. They had three tables set up with displays and samples.

“I’ve been coming here a long time, at least two decades,” said Crawford. “It’s a good event, that’s why were are here each winter and in Cody in the summer. If this wasn’t good for us, we won’t be here.”

Crawford showed a $600 hand tooled leather helmet

Crawford showed a $600 hand tooled leather helmet

Front Range Fire Apparatus is the Wyoming and Colorado representative for Pierce branded fire trucks and apparatus. “Our most best seller, of course, are the fire trucks. but the breathing apparatus, thermal imaging camera and gas detectors are quite popular too.” Marschman said the “Powell Fire Department just purchased a thermal imaging camera that is mounted on a tall pole that gives then tremendous coverage when involved in a rescue and such, it covers a wide area.” Crawford demonstrated one model that even showed the footprints where people had walked across a concrete floor. “It’s that sensitive,” he said.

One of the most unusual things on display was a hand-tooled $600 leather fire helmet. “Everybody who sees one wants one, but not too many have them,” Crawford said. “Mostly retired chiefs.”

Just down the room a bit, Riverton Fire Lieutenant Henri De Clercq was looking at an attack nozzle, used in initial attacks on fires. The nozzles were in a display from Max Fire Equipment of Casper, represented in the state by Mark Cowen. The firm is based in Castle Rock, Colo.

At Municipal Energy Services, Dale Burd of Denver had a selection of bunker gear, air packs, gloves and flashlights on display. “We sell a lot of gloves and flashlights, firefighters really use them a lot.”

Station #1 is serving as the headquarters for the Mid Winter Fire School. (EO)

Station #1 is serving as the headquarters for the Mid Winter Fire School. (EO)

One display that stood out from the others was a 20 foot-long series of tables and booth displays of fire service and wildlife art. “I always wanted to be an artist, even when I was a little kid, and being a firefighter in Casper allowed me to pursue my art,” he said. Casper firefighters are full-time employees of the city with flexible schedules. “I came here (Mid Winter Fire School) as a student and my former chief suggested once that I bring my artwork here. I started in Riverton, went to Cody and then all over the country. I’ve been retired from the Casper department now for 11 years this May.

In the next truck bay over, Gary McWilliams and Mark Mitchell were staffing the North American Pump Testing Company booth. McWilliams said the strength of his company is the fact that it is owned by firefighters. “We know the field and what departments require,” he said. McWilliams said he has been in the fire service for some 29 years, and he’s now the Fire Chief in Florence, Colo.  He also owns the company. “We ensure that all of a department’s fire apparatus is compliant to the National Fire Protection Association’s 19-11 standard. We serve all the states that border Colorado,” he said. “In the fire service our mantra is everyone comes home safely, and if their equipment is operating as it should, then everyone can come home safe.”

Former Casper Firefighter Jim Reed's display was of wildlife and fire service-related art. He first started selling his art in Riverton 25 years ago. (Ernie Over photo)

Former Casper Firefighter Jim Reed’s display was of wildlife and fire service-related art. He first started selling his art in Riverton 25 years ago. (Ernie Over photo)