Attendees packed the Holiday Ballroom of the Hilton Baltimore Thursday morning for the opening ceremonies of Firehouse Expo 2012.
For the first time this year, not only did those in attendance get to take in the sights and sounds, but so did those who watched the live stream on the website.
Later today, an archived version of the event in its entirety will be available.
The Baltimore Fire Department Honor Guard and the Fire Brigade Pipes & Drums of Greater Baltimore kicked off the ceremonies in the ballroom that is attached to the Baltimore Convention Center -- where many of the Expo's events will occur.
Following the national anthem, Firehouse Magazine Editor-in-Chief and Firehouse Conference Director Harvey Eisner addressed the audience.
He drew attention to several rumors he heard floating around the previous day, including that Expo was canceled this year and that it was moving from Baltimore to a different site next year. He also said he saw someone post on Twitter "RIP Harvey Eisner."
The show is bigger than ever this year and the dates for next year's Expo in Blatimore -- July 23-27 -- are already set.
Eisner laughed off all of the rumors off, especially the one about his death, and with a smile said: "I'm back from the dead, the show's back from the dead, here we go."
Eisner also remembered Jean Rank, an employee of Firehouse Magazine for 22 years, who died last week and was buried Monday.
Baltimore Fire Chief James Clack took the stage and welcomed the conference back for another year. He pointed out that he had never seen Eisner in his chief's uniform before and drew laughs from the audience as he took his tie off to imitate Firehouse's Editor, who also wasn't wearing one.
Denis Onieal, Superintendent of the National Fire Academy, thanked the Firehouse staff for all of its hard work and said the conference is training experience not to be missed.
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Executive Director Ron Sarnicki announced that Firehose has reached the Crystal Memorial Level of the organizations sponsors for its support.
John P. Farrell Jr., Director of Green County Department of Emergency Services in Cairo, N.Y. closed the opening by giving a keynote about how responders in his jurisdiction prepared and responded to Hurricane Irene last year.