Convention Steering Committee Message to the Membership
The Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) Convention and Conference Steering Committee has been working for weeks to evaluate all of the potential scenarios that may affect this year’s annual gathering in Ocean City. Upon examination we determined five specific options:
- Host the Convention as scheduled in June.
- Reschedule the Convention to a later date in Ocean City.
- Host a modified Convention (1-2-3 days) to address the Business needs, the Election, Installation and Memorial Service at a location more central in the state.
- Host a virtual Convention to address the four (4) main requirements of the Convention: Business needs, the Election, Installation and Memorial Service.
- Cancel the Convention in its entirety.
The Convention and Conference Steering Committee spoke to numerous local, state and federal officials, and health officers to attempt to develop the best possible projection of what things would be like in June, understanding that there is no definitive way to know exactly what will occur. Information gathered was focused on the following critical points of consideration:
- Social distancing
- Age of our attendees
- Potential of significant reduction in participation
- Costs to attend with current economic conditions
- Fear by our membership to travel to a large gathering event due to COVID-19
- Liabilities on the MSFA and LAMSFA.
As a result of these discussions, the Convention and Conference Steering Committee on April 16, 2020 unanimously made a recommendation to the MSFA Executive Committee to not hold 2020 events in Ocean City and presented a modified Convention Program based upon a blending of Options 3 and 4 from the originally identified solutions listed above. On April 17, 2020, the Executive Committee unanimously approved the proposed plan.
The draft alternative convention plan presented to the Executive Committee includes a two phase approach to meet the needs of the two organizations (MSFA and LAMSFA), addressing by-laws requirements and hosting an alternative to the traditional convention format while giving all elected officers and both presidents some ceremonial aspects to end their terms in office. The two phases have virtual activities during the June dates and in-person activities in late summer once social distancing requirements are relaxed.
Phase 1: Virtual activities to occur in June during original convention week:
- Online Memorial Service
- Fire Prevention Queen Contest
- Messages from Presidents, Elected Officials and Special Guests
- 20/30-minute electronic presentations from convention and conference instructors
- Oath of Office administered electronically
- Executive Committee Conference call to approve 2020-2021 Budget
Phase 2: In-person 2-Day Business Convention
- Opening Ceremonies for MSFA and LAMSFA
- Comments from Presidents, Elected Officials, and Special Guests
- Present Memorial Flags with 11 Special Tributes
- LAMSFA Business Meeting
- MSFA Business Meeting
- Presidential Reception with short program
- Prayer Breakfast modified event
- Award presentations
- Installation of Officers Ceremonial Event
- LAMSFA Business Meeting
- MSFA Business Meeting
- Convention Program Book will be printed
- Proceedings Book will be printed
- Delegate Badges will be provided
- Printing of the Memorial Book being determined
- The Ocean City Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Association (OCHMRA) has informed us that the lodging facilities in Ocean City are upholding a 24-hour cancellation policy and if a member of the MSFA finds they are having difficulty down the road cancelling a reservation, they will assist in the matter.
- If you have a rental agreement for a condominium, check to see if you have a force majeure clause which is the best way to execute a cancellation. We are working on some legal guidance should it be needed.
Here is what you need to do:
- First and foremost, spread the word, the 2020 Convention and Conference is not being cancelled. The MSFA and LAMSFA are going to modify the format for this year and conduct the convention in two phases over the summer months.
- Each member company needs to continue with the pre-convention activities that are required of the membership. It is highly recommended that any company that has not completed their credentials report please do so now so we can meet the voting requirements of the MSFA and LAMSFA.
- Since we will not be gathering in Ocean City, it is imperative that each company sell their $10,000.00 raffle tickets and purchase and sell extras if they can. The drawing will still take place on June 24th.
- If possible, sell more of the raffle tickets, we have plenty to share, or have your company purchase more than you did last year. The public events that the Ways and Means Committee usually attends to sell tickets, have been cancelled.
- Send your money and ticket stubs to Financial Secretary Mitch Vocke. His address is P.O. Box 401, Jarrettsville, MD 21084. If you have raffle questions or need more tickets, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Continue sending in your Convention Program Book ads. Please submit those as soon as possible so we can meet printing deadlines.
- Send in your credentials, dues payment, committee reports and any sponsorship commitments you would normally provide. It is imperative we get this information for the program and publications associated with the Convention and Conference.
- Finally, stay connected with the MSFA Website for updates and new information.
Convention Sponsorship Opportunities for Modified Program:
In an effort to give all of our partners and sponsors an opportunity to reach out to the membership of the MSFA and LAMSFA, the Convention and Conference Steering Committee has developed a Special Sponsorship Package that included opportunities for both the virtual components of Phase One and the in-person aspects of Phase Two. Over the years, our exhibitors have helped make this annual event a success and we want to provide opportunities for them to participate this year as well. The Updated Sponsorship Program can be found on the Convention Website and included links to secure opportunities of involvement.
Pulling it all together:
This has not been an easy decision and the Convention and Conference Steering Committee has tried to do our very best to guide the MSFA and LAMSFA towards a plan that meets all of our mandated requirements while having the safety and survivability of our membership in the forefront. The committee did not rush to this decision and relied upon numerous discussions and reports from those individuals that have the best possible information available, and in reality, no one knows for sure where things will be in June, but at least we can say we did what was right and in the best interest of the two organizations.
Over the next couple of weeks, the Convention and Conference Steering Committee will be working on the specific requirements for both phases of this year’s events and as each separate component is finalized, vital information will be shared with our general membership. Be Safe and Stay Healthy.
Ronald Jon Siarnicki
Cc: MSFA Presidents
MSFA Executive Committee
Mayor Meehan, Town of Ocean City