Response to Box 15 Becomes a Tradition
Just prior to the 1958 conference of the International Association of Fire Chiefs in Los Angeles, a small group of fire equipment companies located in the Great Lakes States tossed a cocktail party on Sunday evening as a kick-off for the convention. As we recall it, the hosts for the night were Midwest Fire & Safety Company of Indianapolis, Great Lakes Fire Equipment Company of Barrington, Illinois, and Elkhart Brass Mfg. Co., of Elkhart, Indiana.
This party was enjoyed by the chiefs of the Great Lakes Division and their wives with such enthusiasm that early in 1959 the officers of the division met informally in Plymouth, Mich., invited several equipment suppliers from the area and broached the idea of having them form an organization to make it an annual event which would include music and dancing. It was recommended that the party be held preferably on Sunday whenever possible, as there was often little to do that day except to register. It would also avoid interference with conference-scheduled events which might be programmed by the IAFC or the host chiefs for nights later in the week.
All vendors at this session were heartily in accord with the proposal and a committee of suppliers was appointed to organize a formal trade association. This committee invited manufacturers, equipment salesmen and distributors from the six states in the division to participate in the movement as a non-profit corporation.
The next matter on the agenda was the selection of a name that would relate to the Fire Service. This was solved by one of the division officers, who suggested the title of Great Lakes Box 15 Club. The name arrived at by estimating that about 15 members would be needed to underwrite the cost of the annual activity. Use of the word “box” also denotes the connection with fire departments.
The organizing committee promptly contacted a number of prominent suppliers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan and invited them to join in the project. This campaign brought in not 15, but over 20 members in a matter of weeks, and at a special meeting in Detroit, the club formally took shape, elected officers and voted to incorporate in Michigan. Membership now numbers approximately 30 companies, but the name Box 15 has become so well established that no change in title is contemplated.
The first party held under the name Box 15 was at the IAFC conference in Grand Rapids in 1959 and was an immediate success. As an orchestra and dance floor were provided and during intermission a snake dance was started. The response was immediate and practically all present joined in singing the songs of the state universities of the several states. This has been a feature ever since.
Acts added to party
At the 1968 IAFC in Louisville, Box 15 added entertainment acts to the music and dancing. This proved so popular that these programs, arranged by Grace Clark, have become standard for the event ever since.
Details of the Box 15 party for the IAFC conference at Salt Lake City will be announced soon.
Officers for the current year are Spud Van Gorp of Snorkel, president; Mike Dalton, vice president; and Gracie Clark of Circul-Air, secretary-treasurer.