August 6 – To celebrate a century of progress and prepare for a bright future, more than 3,100 delegates, alternates and guests gathered in Seattle, Washington, for the IAFF 54th Convention.
“It was over 100 years ago that the initial spark of unionism hit our profession,” said IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger during his state of the union address at the Opening Ceremony. “Over the next century, that spark lit the flame that has burned brighter and brighter as all of us together built this powerhouse of an IAFF. Now, the challenge to be great for the next 100 years comes to all of us. It’s now our turn to be pioneers.”
As the Opening Ceremony began, IAFF Chaplain Father Thomas Mulcrone encouraged delegates to remember what’s at stake as they make decisions this week affecting the future of this union. He also asked for a moment of silence for members battling wildfires in California and responding to other disasters across the United States and Canada, as well as all those who had paid the ultimate sacrifice.
Delegates enjoyed a trip through IAFF history as depicted in a spectacular laser light show and video chronicling the union’s past, beginning with its formation in 1918 when fire fighters worked around-the-clock with little to no time off and only a helmet and the shirts on their backs to protect them in a fire.
When it was founded, the IAFF had just 5,450 members and 63 locals. The IAFF has grown to 3,401 locals and 313,536 members representing 86 percent of the workforce in the United States and 90 percent in Canada.
As the Convention gets underway, Schaitberger charged delegates with ensuring delegates have the resources to protect our members until we celebrate the second centennial. “Let’s stand together for the future generations of fire fighters who are counting on us,” he said.
Watch General President Schaitberger’s entire state of the union address.