More than 80 Arkansas firefighters and their families attended the conference that opened on Tuesday with a golf tournament at Holiday Island Country Club.
"This is a great deal," Eureka Springs Fire Chief Rhys Williams said. "It gives us a chance to talk about firefighting tactics with other firefighters."
"It's mostly an annual event for the local firefighters," said APFF Legislative Chairman Capt. Wade Marshall of Benton said. "We address different legislation that effects firefighters on a state and national level. It's a young man's game these days. There are very few chiefs any more."
International Association of Firefighters General President Harold A. Schaitberger spoke to the attendees for nearly an hour and half on Wednesday, summarizing the affects of declining tax revenues on a national scale and describing the effects of the political system on firefighters around the country.
"Somebody who is willing to support our efforts, we work for them," Schaitberger told the capacity crowd. "We are bipartisan. And if you're with us, we're with you. We've been following that principle for a long time. Officials recognize the power of that and realize what it stands for. The respect, trust and all of that is an asset for those in our ranks. It's a powerful tool and resonates out.
"We are at a critical moment in time," he added. "Those that don't want to see us have turned the clock back 100 years. Sixteen million people were without jobs (including) thousands of firefighters. This story is personal tragedy time and time again. This began to create anger and frustration. Then the financial market changed and also destroyed the personal safety of all of our members, giving the opponents the excuse to take away everything we've built.
"Regardless of that, what occurred ended up creating more anger and fear in the population. You are the guys who have to go in a burning building to rescue a child and save their homes and businesses."
Schaitberger also thanked the Arkansas firefighters who attended the meeting.
"We are thrilled to have this in Eureka Springs," Marshall said. "There is a lot of history here and it has one of the oldest fire departments in the state. We love the area."
Jason Morris, director of Carroll County Office of Emergency Management and president of Eureka Springs Local 4708 firefighters' union, coordinated the event along with other Eureka Springs fire and emergency personnel.