THE ROCHESTER CONVENTION.
THE Annual Convention of the State Firemen’s Association at Rochester, last week, was the means of bringing together a large number of Volunteer Firemen. In all its social and entertaining features the Convention was a success, but so far as the transaction of business of interest to the Firemen was concerned, it was a lamentable failure. When the companies that sent delegates to the Convention, paying their expenses there and back, ask of their representatives “ What did the Convention do that was of practical value to the Fire Service?” the delegates will be forced to respond, “ It did nothing, but we had a good time.” They will be able to give a glowing account ot the hospital ly of the citizens of Rochester, and of the elegant manner in which they were treated collectively and individually, but as to the work of the Convention itself they will be forced to remain dumb. We give in other columns a condensed report of the proceedings, and, for fear we might be accused of misrepresenting the matter, our report is taken almost boldily from the Rochester papers, that were naturally inclined to make the most possible out of the event. We ask any one who reads it to point out wherein the proceedings were calculated to instruct or improve the Firemen of the Stale. That more business of a practical nature was not transacted was not the fault of the delegates, for they had come long distances for the purpose of transacting business, and many returned home sadly disappointed that so little was done. The difficulty lay in the fact that the Central Committee, of Rochester, in their anxiety to entertain their visitors and to make their visit a memorable one, prepared such an extensive programme of entertainments that there was little time left for the regular sessions of the Convention. We say this in all kindness to that Committee, and with a full appreciation of the arduous labors they discharged so successfully ; they were indefatigable in their exertions to make the gathering one of the largest and most attractive reunions of the Volunteer Firemen of the State. In this they were entirely successful. There were visits to various points of interest ; drives about the city ; an excursion on the lake ; a banquet at a hotel; a mass meeting addressed by eloquent speakers ; there were music and flowers everywhere ; the shop windows were ornamented with symbols of the Fire Service ; flags and bunting and cordial greetings were visible everywhere. Those who went there sight-seeing, and for a good time, must have been gratified to their heart’s content. But we do not believe that the mere having a good tin e is the end and aim of the State Firemen’s Association. If it is, then the Companies in various cities would do better to save the money it costs to send delegates and spend it among themselves in picnics, where a greater number can participate in the good time. We say these things now, because there has been a growing tendency on the part of cities to out-do each other in the matter of entertaining the State Association, whereby the citizens are subjected to much expense—an expense voluntarily assumed, no doubt, but nevertheless an expense. We believe we speak the sentiments of the practical thinking men of the Association when we say this is not what the Association wants. Their desire is to come together annually to discuss matters of practical interest to them as Firemen ; to learn something from those capable of teaching, and to teach others so far as lies in their power. Underneath all the happy and contented exterior presented at Rochester, amid the multifarious diversions, there was a quiet feeling that the thing was overdone, and that more business and less festivity would have been more acceptable.
The exhibition of fire apparatus and supplies was excellent—by far the best ever given. The arrangements for exhibiting goods in the Exposition Building were admirable. Three large floors were devo ed to the exhibits, and the building was thronged from early morning tid late at night by crowds of interested spectators. As an advertisement for exhibitors of goods the exhibition was a pronounced success. For this the Central Committee should have full credit. Yet there weie many among the exhibitors who desired practical tests of their exhibits, and while some of them were gratified, others were not. Owing to misunderstandings, even the tests that were made were not witnessed by the Convention as a body, and by comparatively few delegates. If the various apparatus could all have been taken to some convenient place and there exhibited, one after another, in presence of the delegates as an organized body, it would have been much better for all concerned. That this was not done was largely the fault of the exhibitors themselves, who failed to notify the Committee in advance, either that they desired to exhibit or to have their apparatus tested. Goods continued to arrive even during the last day of the session, and at no time was it possible to get a correct list of the exhibits or of the exhibitors. Had each one filed with the proper officers on the first day a list of goods exhibited and a request for a test, the work could have been systematically arranged and the various trials carried out methodically.
In the absence of such knowledge of the desires of exhibitors confusion was inevitable. But, of course, manufacturers will not admit their share of the blame, although for weeks they had been implored to notify the Central Committee relative to their intentions. Some of them feel aggrieved that they were unable to exhibit their apparatus and devices practically, but we hold that the fault was mainly their own in not having given proper notice. At all State fairs, agricultural or industrial, no goods are received without a schedule being filed with the proper officer, and no entries can be made after the exhibition opens. A similar rule enforced at Rochester would shut out many of the exhibitors. Some of the exhibitors complain also of having been excluded from some of the festivities, notably the excursion down the bay. Ten of them, who were refused passage on the boat, chartered a steamer for themselves, had their sail and dinner on their own hook, and enjoyed themselves. Nevertheless, they claimed that inasmuch as the exhibitors had contributed so largely to the success of the gathering, they were entitled to the same courtesies that were extended to delegates. Such had been the case at all other Conventions they had attended, and they presumed they were to be similarily treated at Rochester. The Association most certainly cannot afford to ignore or snub manufacturers who contribute so much to the interest and to the practical knowledge to be obtained at these annual Conventions. If they are not to be placed on an equality with the delegates, they should not be invited to the meetings. They attend at great cost to themselves, and we doubt if any one at Rochester received sufficient orders for goods to pay his hotel bill. We have met these gentlemen at numerous Conventions, and have always found their exhibits attracted marked attention, both from the Firemen and from visitors, while socially they are the equals of any member. On all occasions when we have met them they have shared with the Firemen every courtesy extended by Firemen. That such was not the case at Rochester was due unquestionably to oversight or inadvertence, for we are confident the gentlemen composing the Central Committee would not intentionaliy slight any person whom they had invited to be present. We allude to this matter here in the hope that the public mention of it will prevent such neglect in future at any Convention of Firemen.
As we have before remarked, we fully appreciate the labor performed by the Central Committee of Rochester, and the zeal and enthusiasm with which they did it, and in thus criticising the results o4 the Convention we do not wish to be understood as reflecting upon that Committee. We simply deprecate the idea of making the annual Conventions of any State Association occasions for a grand and costly display, ora Firemen’s hurrah. If these Associations are to complete the good work they have entered upon, improving the men and material of the fire service, they must come down to solid, practical, intelligent work. We know of departments in the State now that refuse to send delegates to the Convention because, as they say, they amount to nothing but a hurrah, and give no practical information. Until the Association proves to the contrary, its membership will not be largely increased. We hope the Association will concede that Rochester has given it the greatest “ boom,” socially, that any city in the State can give, and will hereafter discourage any elaborate display. It will be well if Kingston next year will set the example of giving a practical Convention, without any fuss and feathers,