This week the IAFF will celebrate 95 years of uniting fire fighters and serving as a leader in the advancement of improving the fire service and the lives of our members.
The IAFF was formed in 1918 when 36 delegates attended the first convention in Washington, DC to bring fire fighters together for better wages, improved safety, and greater service for their communities.
Today we stand at 300,000 members strong and are still united to protect and serve local communities.
Fire fighting as an institution came to the United States and Canada in the late 1700s, but fire fighters did not get paid until the 1850s. It wasn’t until the 1900s that safety and operation standards were developed.
In its early days, IAFF members worked 24-hour shifts on continuous duty and were paid very low wages. The first issues IAFF locals took include fair wages, benefits and improved hours.
As we celebrate and reflect on all that we have achieved, it helps to prepare us for the difficult challenges ahead.
As the economy continues to struggle to recover in the United States, fire fighter are still facing attacks on collective bargaining, retirement security and other rights and benefits. The Staffing forAdequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and the Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) grant programs could suffer if Congress fails to avoid the automatic spending cuts set to take effect on March 1.
Our Canadian brothers and sisters are facing similar attacks. Toronto, the largest city in Canada, is calling for cutting 101 vacant frontline jobs and closing fire stations.
Over the last several years, there have been numerous efforts by our political opponents who want to wipe labor unions off the map by trying to do away with collective bargaining, turn states to Right-to-Work (for less) and making it harder for our affiliates to collect dues, among other attacks on rights and earned benefits.
As fire departments across the country continue to wrestle to keep communities safe with fewer resources, the IAFF will also continue to work with its allies in Congress to maintain the proper funding levels for funding for fire service grant programs and make sure that other resources are invested in the nation’s emergency responders.
For 95 years, the IAFF has served as the primary advocate for providing fire fighters and paramedics with the tools they need to perform their jobs.
Soon, we’ll be launching a new Fighting Back web site full of information, tools and resources to help affiliates under attack.
And you can count on the IAFF to assist our members whenever needed. The IAFF Communications and Media Department provides assistance, including strategic communications consulting, writing op-eds and letters to the editor, producing print materials and creating advertisements and videos, and more.