As it prepares to co-host the Firemen's Association State of Pennsylvania's 132nd Convention and Parade this week, Lake Harmony Fire Company took a brief break and participated in the New Jersey Firemen's Association Parade and Convention this past weekend in Wildwood.

Lake Harmony won five first-place trophies at the Garden State event, including the prestigious Chief Moe Howard Award, a special award given for the best ladder truck and named in honor of the late fire chief who died last year.

The parade included units from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

This week's Pennsylvania event in Kidder Township, meanwhile, is being co-hosted by the Albrightsville Fire Company.

Highlights of the convention include open-house events at both fire companies Thursday night, a Memorial Service at the Galleria in Lake Harmony at 1 p.m. Thursday, a fire expo beginning at 3 p.m. Friday and most of the day on Saturday, a Beef and Brew at the Galleria at 7 p.m. Friday, and the big parade at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The open house events will be held at Lake Harmony from 7-10 p.m. on Thursday, and at Albrightsville from 5-10 p.m., with each fire company featuring special activities.

For Lake Harmony, the open house will provide an opportunity for firefighters to show-off their new fire station which became occupied just a few months ago.

Lake Harmony Fire Chief Ralph C. Lennon noted that well over $100,000 was saved on the fire station construction by volunteers doing some of the work themselves, much of it with donations from area contractors and suppliers. The work included landscaping, some interior construction, and new shelving, benches, cabinets and other items which were built by a member who is a woodwork specialist.

The ability to get the community and suppliers involved has evolved to the convention the fire company is hosting.

Lennon said the Scott Corporation has donated air packs which will be used for live fire training on Thursday and Friday at the Galleria. Some burn trailers will be brought to the site and registration for the training was opened to all fire companies belonging to the state convention.

He said such training is a first for the state convention.

At the open house, Lake Harmony will have on display scores of trophies it has won over the years. The year 2010 was especially impressive with the firefighters winning 27 awards in various parades and competitions.

The convention officially kicks off at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow when the state executive committee meets in the Galleria.

On Thursday, the schedule moves into high gear with the training session and various other events. Opening ceremonies for the convention are at 9 a.m. At about noon, the Somerset Fire Company, which is this year's grand marshal, will arrive for the memorial service.

The Somerset Fire Company hosted the state convention in September 2001. After 9/11, when one of the hijacked planes crashed in Shanksville, the annual state parade was canceled.

Somerset Fire Company was one of the fire departments dispatched to the site where the airliner crashed.

The Memorial Service will conclude with an exit from the Galleria through an arch formed by the aerials of the Lake Harmony and Somerset Fire Departments.

An awards assembly occurs at 1 p.m. Friday, during which individual state awards are presented.

In the past three years, Lake Harmony Fire Company has had four award winners. Among them was Lennon, who was named Fire Chief of the Year.

This year, Split Rock Resort has been nominated for a James A. Miller Memorial Award, which is presented to a contributor to fire protection.

Lennon said Split Rock not only has been a major supporter of this year's convention, but also had provided Lake Harmony with fire protection before the formation of the Lake Harmony Fire Company nearly 60 years ago.

One of the other awards that Lake Harmony Fire Company won in New Jersey was for best appearing hand-drawn pumper. It is owned by Steve Lilick, an assistant chief who will have the vehicle, an 1860 hand-drawn Wurt Knox model, on display at the convention Expo.