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      State firefighters gather in Myrtle Beach

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      The 109th South Carolina State Firefighters' Association Annual Conference is taking place this week in Myrtle Beach.

      At least 6,000 firefighters from across the state will be in town to learn through training sessions, seminars and from vendors who will be displaying the latest in fire suppression technology.

      "We usually have about 1,200 to 1,300 students that will be taking classes in the rooms, as well as hands on training that goes on at the Myrtle Beach fire department's training grounds," said Joe Palmer, the Executive Director for the South Carolina State Firefighters' Association.

      This year's theme is 'saving lives, changing lives: through family, fitness, finance and fire house.'

      The conference will mainly take place at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center but will also include events around the area.

      "Myrtle beach has been good to us. The convention center here, the City of Myrtle Beach, the mayor's office, the fire department, they all pitch in. And it's a great week for us. So we just hope the city of Myrtle Beach sees a lot of good firemen hanging out in their restaurants and things, as we can kind of return our thanks to everybody," said Palmer.

      He also said the conference is about training and improving professionalism in the firefighters around the state.

      The conference is a chance for them to learn new skills in the field and network with others.

      Myrtle Beach has hosted the fire-rescue conference for almost 30 years.

      This year organizers added a new concept, an incident management team, which consists of first responders statewide.

      They will use this conference as training for a natural disaster.

      There are over 17,000 firefighters statewide and 60 percent of them are volunteers.

      Some of the events taking place this year include:

      Hands on training will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Myrtle Beach Fire Training Ground.

      The Explorer Post Competition, the firefighter games including a truck pull, tire carry, a corn hole tournament and more will take place Thursday afternoon at the Convention Center.

      A blood drive for the American Red Cross will be hosted on Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Convention Center.

      A memorial service for all the firefighters who passed away in 2013 will be held on Saturday at 1 p.m.

      There will also be a 5k run/walk on Saturday at 8 a.m. at the Market Common that will benefit the S.C. Firefighters Foundation that is open to all entries.

      For more information visit