Firefighters, families get ready for 129th annual OSFA Convention
May 22—Hundreds of firefighters and their families from across the state will soon be arriving in Tahlequah for the 129th annual Oklahoma State Firefighters Association Convention.
"It's a combined effort with the Tulsa Fire Department to put the convention on in Tahlequah," said Tahlequah Fire Chief Casey Baker. "We're helping to host the convention in Tahlequah."
Established as the Territorial Firemens Association of Oklahoma in 1894, the purpose of the OSFA, in part, is to create, maintain, and perpetuate a fraternal spirit among its members; to suggest helpful legislation; to educate its membership; and to enhance the value and dignity of their profession, according to the OSFA website.
The OSFA has more than 15,000 members representing union and nonunion paid firefighters, volunteer firefighters, chief officers, and retired firefighters.
The organization's legislative achievements date back to 1908.
Scheduled to take place June 5-10, the convention's meetings and banquet will be held at the Chota Center at the Cherokee Nation Casino.
"This will be the third time the convention will take place in Tahlequah," said Baker. "The first time was in 1992, under Chief Bob Adrian; the second time was in 2009, under Chief Ray Hammons. This is the first time it has been a joint effort with Tulsa."
During the convention, firefighters will get the chance to hear from guests speakers and receive various reports from state agencies, OSFA committee reports, and OSFA officer reports.
The OSFA Board will be presenting various awards, such as the Shey P. Francis Award, Department/Unit Citation, Meritorious Service Award, Medal of Valor, First in Last Out, David Bain Award, and 100-year membership awards.
In 2019, the Tahlequah Fire Department received its 100-year membership award.
"We've been members since 1919," said Baker.
Following the special presentations and recognitions, OSFA Executive Director Mike Kelley will be presenting the Pete and Lela Stavros Scholarship.
A permanent endowment fund established at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, the $2,000 scholarship is awarded to graduating Oklahoma high school seniors who are children and relatives of Oklahoma firefighters who are active or retired members of the OSFA.
Along with the regular business of the convention, firefighters and their families will also get to participate in group activities, such as a fishing tournament on Lake Tenkiller, a golf tournament at Cherokee Springs Golf Course, a float excursion on the Illinois River followed by a picnic at Riverbend Floats, and a Poker Run Pub Crawl that will take place a various downtown locations.
There will also be an OSFA Women's Auxiliary Luau at Burnt Cabin Marina, as well as a Women's Welcome given by the OSFAWA President Kendra Engle.
Baker said they have worked with local organizations, such as the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and Tahlequah Main Street Association, to notify the public and assist with coordinating the events.
"I wanted to prepare the citizens and the business owners that there is going to be an influx of firefighters from all around the state," Baker said.