'The big benefit is you come here and you get to see what's new out there in equipment and you get to trade ideas with each other about how you're doing things.'
Grant Mishoe comes to Myrtle Beach every year for a family reunion of sorts. The North Charleston firefighter was one of about 1,000 firefighters who came to Myrtle Beach this weekend for the S.C. State Firemen's Association Conference.
"I usually get to see them once a year, and this is it," Mishoe said of the firefighters from more than 400 departments. "It's like a big family reunion."
While many of the firefighters caught up with old friends, others were in seminars learning more about things such as highly flammable drug labs and how to stay safe in large-scale disasters.
Firefighter Jimmie James of Columbia went to a seminar on response to mayday events, such as a large building catching on fire and crumbling in on itself.
"I think it's going to be very useful," James said of the information he will take back to Columbia with him.
Vendors and booths for firefighting-related organizations were popular at the convention. Dozens of fire and rescue vehicles also were parked inside the convention center.
There will be a firefighter competition today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the convention center. Mishoe said it always allows for some friendly competition.
The most popular event at the convention is the firefighter combat challenge.
"It's really competitive because it's for bragging rights," Mishoe said.
The convention has been in Myrtle Beach for 14 years.
Lt. Dan Walker said it's an event the Myrtle Beach Fire Department always looks forward to.
"The big benefit is you come here and you get to see what's new out there in equipment and you get to trade ideas with each other about how you're doing things," Walker said.