The Rules Committee that governs the Firefighter’s Parade at the Apple Blossom Festival has announced a new compromise solution that will allow sirens to return to the Firefighter’s Parade. The contentious issue has grown heated in the past with some fire companies being suspended from the festival for ignoring the ban.
This year, a special “Post-Parade Division” will be added to the end of the regular Firefighters’ Parade and, within this Division, sirens will be allowed from start to finish. It was also announced at this same time that all past parade suspensions due to siren sounding would be lifted. The regular Pre-Parade of antique fire and rescue apparatus will lead the Parade. Then, a series of familiar divisions of fire and rescue equipment, bands, special units and celebrities will proceed as usual. After this, a 10 to 15 minute “warning” break will ensue during which special units of motorcycles, and military equipment will be featured. It will be recommended that during this break, those who do not wish to hear the sirens should leave the Parade Route. After the break, the new “Post-Parade Division” or “Final Division” will pass through made up entirely of fire and rescue apparatus with full siren privileges. This would be adopted on a one-year trial basis at the 2011 Festival.
Details of the change are still being worked out. It is anticipated that all fire companies [including suspended companies] on the Festival’s mailing list will be re-notified of the changes. Methods for notifying the public, Parade Marshals and local emergency management teams as to the timing and the extent of the sirens will also have to be finalized. Festival organizers expressed hope that the public and the firefighters themselves will join in this spirit of compromise and embrace this new opportunity in moderation and that this will be the first step toward a new unified Firefighters’ Parade.