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Firefighters' group to hold summer convention in Hauppauge

The state's largest volunteer firefighter organization will hold its convention in Suffolk this summer, which the county hopes will give its tourism - and sales tax revenue - a boost.

The annual Firemen's Association of the State of New York returns to Suffolk after an 11-year hiatus. At a news conference Thursday at the Hyatt Regency Long Island Hotel in Hauppauge, the association said the 138th annual event, which will be Aug. 18-20, will draw 2,000 participants, including volunteer firefighters and rescue workers from all over New York State and their families. The association estimates that $850,000 will be spent in the local area, including on lodging, food and entertainment.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy called it an "opportunity to say thank you" to volunteer firefighters, whom he called Long Island's heroes. It will also bring in summer sales tax revenue "just when we need that boost," Levy said.

Joseph Williams, head of Suffolk's Fire Rescue and Emergency Services, which oversees the county's volunteer emergency departments, said with 109 fire departments, Suffolk is one of the busiest firefighting counties in the state, and logged 171,000 calls last year. Alarm calls are increasing about 10 percent a year, mostly for ambulance services, Williams said.

A day of training at the convention will include activities for its junior firefighter program for teens. On Wednesday, there will be a presentation for Firefighter of the Year.

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