Looking Back at the History of Our Union With IAFF Emeriti


At our #IAFFCentennialConvention, we asked emeriti officers here in Seattle to share their thoughts on how the fire service and the IAFF have evolved and about important milestones that occurred during their tenure.

James T. Ferguson, IAFF 10th District Vice President Emeritus

“There are retirement systems that are near bankruptcy. And, as we all know, there are already entities out there trying to reduce the amount owed to our retirees. The challenge for current IAFF leaders will be to continue to push state and local governments to fund our pensions.”



Thomas H. Miller, IAFF General Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus

“When I came on, everything we had was made of rubber and plastic, even our helmets. But because of the International, our members are running into fires wearing turnout gear that provides real protection.”


Robert Palmer, 2nd District Vice President Emeritus

“I got involved in the union because I was born into a union house. I think our future looks good. Al Whitehead brought this union a long way, and it’s gone much further since then.”



Elliot Hastings, 13th District Vice President Emeritus

“The 1980s were a big turning point. General Presidents Al Whitehead and Harold Schaitberger turned us into a business instead of a good-old-boys club. Harold has developed a whole series of new services and taken us to a whole new level — such as PTSD, communications and technology, things that we couldn’t even have imagined in the past.”


Bruce Carpenter, 13th District Vice President Emeritus

“The biggest change when you look at where we have been is technology and how we have put it to work for our members. Political action is another huge thing that the International has done. The IAFF has worked to provide a level of service that’s second to none, and it’s the leadership that has made it all possible.”