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Montana State Fire Chiefs Convention provides network for firefighters

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HELENA - About 100 fire chiefs from large and small departments around Montana are meeting in Helena this week to share information and work on problems many departments face.

The Montana State Fire Chiefs Convention is held every other year in cities around the state. According to organizers, the convention is a valuable opportunity for Montana fire departments.

“It really is to build a network of friends you can call when you have a bad day, be it incident-wise,” Rich Cowger, chief of Columbus Fire Rescue and president of the Montana State Fire Chiefs Association, said.

The convention will include a number of educational presentations on subjects like fire science and firefighting tactics. The chiefs will also take a look back at this year’s devastating wildfire season in which millions of acres burned and two firefighters were killed.

Safety will also be a major topic of discussion.

“We always try and focus on firefighter safety, that’s one of our primary things,” Cowger said. “One of the things that we’re talking about that’s unique at this conference is not only physical health and safety but also mental health and safety for our folks, dealing with some of the stuff they see on a day-to-day basis.”

The convention continues through Friday.

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