Station Pride Articles

IAFF begins Unionizing Volunteer Firefighters

In an incredible policy reversal, the International Association of Fire Fighters(IAFF) has called a truce on a decades-long feud with the volunteer fire service. It’s widely known that 70% of the American fire service is comprised of unpaid or barely compensated volunteers, while the remaining 30% are career staff. The large majority of firefighters in the United States are volunteers.

It’s been a long-held position of the IAFF that volunteer firefighters take jobs away from career firefighters, thus threatening the sanctity and long-term viability of the union. The IAFF’s continued mission to grow the union has been happening at a slower pace than planned. Due to the financial crisis, department consolidation, and budget cuts, small career departments have been dissolving back into volunteer
stations.

IAFF President Christopher Montgomery stated that it was time to rethink the 100-year-old IAFF platform. During a brainstorming session with the executive board of directors, the idea of unionizing volunteer stations was presented. It was a game-changing Eureka moment, Montgomery said. After very little discussion it was clear the decision was pivotal and necessary for the health of the union.

IAFF President Montgomery further stated that hundreds of thousands of existing firefighters are under-represented and disenfranchised by a system that doesn’t support them. Volunteers are required to complete the same training hours and respond to the same emergency calls, performing labor with ZERO compensation and in most cases ZERO ancillary medical or psychological support. Exposure to cancer-causing toxins, emotionally taxing situations, and the risk of post-traumatic stress leave an entire segment of the firefighting community in dire need of representation.

Union dues are expected to range from $10-$25 per month, per volunteer, depending on the type of department and budget. Montgomery stated that the union was committed to all firefighters everywhere willing to pay dues. Of course, the union local for a volunteer station will have limited powers at first but the action has the potential to upend the entire volunteer system as we know it, effectively
bankrupting communities, forcing consolidation, thus triggering the need and means to hire career staff.

IAFF board of trustee Mark Burke spoke out against the decision to unionize volunteers stating it was the most genius trojan horse plan the union has ever concocted to completely dismantle the American volunteer fire service, all in the pursuit of dues.

It’s nearly unbelievable that a situation like this would occur. Only time will tell whether the IAFF’s position will make a positive or negative impact on the fire service. For sure, this will benefit individual firefighters in some fashion as they will finally have professional representation.

No matter which side of the fence you reside with this topic, unions have always stood up for the American worker, protecting us from big business and government. Volunteers represent an untapped resource for the IAFF to grow in strength while building a stronger more safe fire service nationwide. The unionization of volunteers will redefine the American fire service. It’s clear the IAFF is taking a large step forward, revolutionizing the idea of a union. We applaud their efforts to protect the union and we certainly hope they are good sports.

 

 

44 Comments on IAFF begins Unionizing Volunteer Firefighters

  1. Kevin M. Buchanan Jr. // April 1, 2017 at 7:36 am // Reply

    Well would you look at that! I had said that the whole time I was in (almost 7 years as a Volunteer) in my home town of Shelton, CT. It’s the same job the same training, same risk! There name says says it all International Association of Fire Fighters. Says nothing about Paid or Volunteer and in my opinion should represent us all. But now that I think about it today is April 1, 2017 meaning April fools day so my luck this is probably a joke!

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    • Union Firefighter // April 1, 2017 at 10:34 am // Reply

      And you would be correct in assuming that.

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    • Considering the IAFF presidents lastname is Shattberger……this isn’t true!

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    • You realize this is a joke, right

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    • So volunteers take a 8 month academy? Then take numerous training hours a week and month? Not to mention how much PT and physically fitness they do… yeah i call BS. it’s NOT the same thing and volunteers do NOT do the same training, they do far less with little to no standards. The only joke here is you. Iaff should leave the volunteers (job thieves) alone so the can continue to be untrained, fat, and dumb.

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      • Damn john so much for brotherhood in the fire service. Im in a combination department in the chicago area! Our full timers are all union members while us hourly peons are not. But you know what the kicker is.. I went to the same academy as them, work the same days as them, Train next to them and respond on the same calls. I pump the same chest, engine, and put out the same fires.. period.. so you can take your under educated, thinking every volly is a hillbilly I LOVE THE UNION MORE THEN MY CITIZENS AND DEPARTMENT LOVING SELF and get bent. Ur nothing more then a ladder climbing rank jumper whos probably wrote more SOPs then fires seen. Peace Love and Brotherhood

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      • Anonymous // April 1, 2017 at 9:58 pm //

        What a fkn ass hat.

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      • John, You sir, are an Ass of a special breed. As a recently retired paid Battalion Chief – and a volunteer firefighter for 37 years, it is obvious that a volunteer dept. somewhere down the line as really hurt your feelings. There are many volunteers that hope to one day support their families with a paid position at a fire dept., but there are many who work hard, train to ISFAC standards, and proudly GIVE their service to perform the SAME work as you do, for pay. Generalizing all volunteers as fat and lazy is like saying that all paid firefighters do is sit in recliners, watch TV, wash their personal vehicles on the city’s time and dime, and shop for groceries while wasting Dept money and resources while on duty. Have a safe career!

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      • Are you kidding me? // April 1, 2017 at 10:44 pm //

        Wow….what a completley false and ridiculous statement…W train to the same Pro-Board certification standards as full time departments, answer to the same standards and regulations as full timers, except we do it for our communities, not a fucking paycheck…ridiculous and disrespectful.

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      • Anonymous // April 1, 2017 at 10:49 pm //

        You sir are a jackass.

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      • Lmao.

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      • Most volunteers are better trained than some paid firefighters. Depends on your state.

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      • Anonymous // April 2, 2017 at 1:42 am //

        You’re an idiot. Obviously you haven’t paid attention to what volunteers contribute. We might not live there for 24 hr. shifts, but we do train where I come from and we are held to the same standard as career firefighters. I have been a volunteer for 37 years. We have a great combo department. We are not looked at as second class citizens.

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      • John, you suck. Seriously you speak out your ass. You no NOTHING of what we do. This is obvious by your statement. I hope you are not in anyway a superior to anyone.

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      • Dedicated volunteers do as much training if not more on our personal time while also holding down a full time job. It’s people like you that create the animosity between paid and volunteer.

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      • John – I was going to call you an asshole, but I see from reading further that others have beat me to it. So I won’t. Kudos to all the others who pointed out John’s assholish nature. Thanks for carrying the banner. John=dickhead!

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      • Pretty simple to me, after 29 years as a ff/emt with a volunteer department that transitioned to a combination department that John is a MORON!!!

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      • What a shit for brains comment John. You are a disgrace to the Fire service.

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    • In lehigh county pa a volunteer station successfully unionized through iaff and i believe even won the ensuing court case that the municipality tried to block it with.

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      • William duggab // April 1, 2017 at 8:35 pm //

        I know a lot of union fireman, who take 2nd jobs in the trades and aren’t in the union so they are job thieves also,do you know a y union fireman, that are also sheet metal workers, painters, Carpenters et c

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  2. Funny, not one word of this revolution mentioned on the IAFF website!!

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  3. April fools?!?

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  4. April fools people. This article is full of mistakes.

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  5. April fools… heheheh

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  6. Only for the “Health of the Union”. The union is loosing numbers so let’s finally change our policy so the union representatives still get paid. No thank you I’m not a volunteer to help you earn your paycheck. Don’t need you.

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  7. Jeff Chandler // April 1, 2017 at 10:53 am // Reply

    April fools!?!

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  8. Timothy Bosman // April 1, 2017 at 11:06 am // Reply

    I too was a IAFF member then became a Chief of a Part-time Fire Department. The IAFF wouldn’t have anything to do with us so the members joined the AFSCME union. This made a lot of sense. I had always said the IAFF is missing the boat with not taking on part-time, part-paid and volunteer departments. As they can join other unions the IAFF was missing out on the NUMBERS. It could have even been associate membership status. The sad part is that many of my personnel were trained and received line experience then were picked up by career departments, and then they fell into the Full Time IAFF mentality forgetting where they came from. I’m glad the leadership has seen the light. These departments were never there to take away jobs it is in the politics of city government that refused to let a department move forward, I know because I tried to go full time in my city.

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  9. The IAFF has just realized a vast untapped pool of DUES paying people to increase their income. They aren’t at all concerned about the firefighters, just the new found source of revenue.

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  10. Iaff wouldn’t take that liability. April fools.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Dale Robin // April 1, 2017 at 2:41 pm // Reply

    How do I go about getting my small rural Fire Department involved with IAFF Union Brotherhood. I’m sure many of our Firefighters (30+) will be interested and join up.
    I’m with Grahamsville Fire Department #67 in Upstate New York Sullivan County.
    My Name is Dale Robin Kufert GFD #67 Fire Police Please send an information
    Package or Kit. I’ll probably be the one representing my Department. Send some
    Stickers, Decals, and other related stuff and things along with the informational
    Kit or Package. Thank you very much for your assistance and help with this great
    cause and unionship of Brother and Sister Firefighters. I’ll send you my mailing address
    once you respond to this comment and posting. Take care and be well. Stay Safe.

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  12. The concept sounds strong, I am certainly supportive of ideas that can and will unite and strengthen the fire service as a whole. As I have spent a career in combination departments, I have never unsterstood or agreed with the them verses us attitude from my colleagues who train side by side.

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  13. Braidjansen // April 1, 2017 at 4:09 pm // Reply

    That was my first reaction: April Fools….or the Leafs just won the Stanley Cup ’cause the idea that the IAFF can suddenly play nice with volunteer firefighters seems just about as likely.

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  14. David Jobes // April 1, 2017 at 4:45 pm // Reply

    Screw the IAFF as the local federal IAFF FF at NIH allowed the local to kick fellow GS-0081’s fire protection specialists out and have the NIH HRO to rewrite SF 52’s and say that it had been a mistake. In one case a fellow employee had ten years of SF50’service re-done to reflect a mistake.

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  15. Brian stine // April 1, 2017 at 5:09 pm // Reply

    In lehigh county pa a volunteer station successfully unionized with iaff and i believe won the court case that the municipality tried to use to block them.

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  16. Brian stine // April 1, 2017 at 5:33 pm // Reply

    Ruling: Emmaus firefighters can vote to unionize
    Pa. Labor Relations Board examiner: Firefighters are borough employees.
    Members of the Emmaus Fire Department, long considered volunteers by the borough’s council and management, are employees who have the right to unionize, a state Labor Relations Board hearing examiner has ruled in a proposed order. The order, which could have significant financial implications for the borough of 12,000 if firefighters ultimately decide to unionize, could potentially affect other boroughs and townships that have similar control over and provide wages to firefighters now classified as volunteers. The dispute stems from a decision the borough made a number of years ago to pay what it considered a stipend to firefighters to help offset the drop in qualified volunteers. Emmaus is one of about a dozen Lehigh Valley municipalities that provides some level of pay and benefits to firefighters. A union vote is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at Borough Hall. Following the vote, the borough and the firefighters can appeal the order by John Pozniak, who heard arguments in January following a petition by the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association to represent the Emmaus firefighters. Wednesday’s vote is also subject to challenges by both sides. “We disagree with the decision,” said Tom Dinkelacker, an Orefield attorney who represents the borough. “But the next step is for the election.” Matthew Areman, the Philadelphia attorney representing the firefighters organization, said his client is pleased that the issue is going to an election. “We look forward to an honest and fair election to determine whether the employees want to be represented.” Even though the firefighters gained the right to unionize, the formation of a union isn’t a foregone conclusion. Half of the Fire Department members who vote in Wednesday’s election must give their support for the union. The department has an estimated 35 members. Chief James Reiss is not eligible to be a member of the union. It’s not clear what financial impact a unionized Fire Department would have on the borough and its taxpayers. The borough, which has a general operating budget of $8.8 million this year, earmarked $2.2 million for its unionized police department, which has about 18 officers and a chief, according to borough budget documents. Pozniak’s ruling was based in large part on measures the borough and its council have taken in recent years relative to the operation and oversight of and compensation for firefighters. The issue came down to whether the firefighters were considered employees or volunteers. “In essence, the borough has already hired the firefighters and despite any alleged intent on behalf of the borough that the firefighters not be public employees, the borough has already made them public employees by paying them hourly wages and possessing and exercising significant control over their terms and conditions of employment,” Pozniak said in his ruling. The borough earmarks a little more than $500,000 in its annual budget for firefighting services. Of that, about $269,000 goes toward stipends for firefighters. The borough owns the Fire Department building and most of the equipment in it. The Fire Department has two members — Reiss and secretary Victoria Schadler — who are employees of the borough and answer to the borough’s administration In addition, council in 1999 passed an ordinance that established the Fire Department and several positions as “at-will employees and appointees.” The ordinance also said that appointees were subject to the approval of council and that firefighters would be under the control of the fire chief “who shall be accountable to the borough manager and council.” The borough also reserved the right to establish rules, regulations and operating procedures for the department. “There is little doubt that the petitioned-for firefighters are employees…and not volunteers as alleged by the borough,” Pozniak wrote. In 2013, the pay rate was set at $10.15 to $15.22. Firefighters receive a base amount that increases based on their qualifications and training. Pozniak noted the final say on discipline of firefighters rests with the borough in that a firefighter can appeal discipline imposed by the chief. In 2011, management issued firefighters a borough personnel policy. Two years later, it issued them a policy for light duty responsibilities related to on-the-job injuries. Neil A. Morris, a labor attorney from Philadelphia, said the Fire Department operation as it relates to the borough seems unique. In most towns, fire companies operate independently from the borough and receive some financial support from the municipality. Municipalities also pay for workers’ compensation insurance. “Most smaller towns have volunteer fire departments, which may have a few paid employees and are funded largely through a fire tax that the municipality supports them with,” he said. “However, it is truly a volunteer, private organization. “In this situation, the borough appears to have extended its reach in terms of the fire company to the extent that it exercises more control.” This article was written by Patrick Lester and originally published in “The Morning Call East Penn News” you can view the article on their site by clicking here

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  17. Harold Robinette Jr // April 1, 2017 at 11:27 pm // Reply

    If you have to pay dues to get respect for doing the same job, same training, same exposure to same hazards, when you’re a volunteer, I believe I’ll keep my 29 year’s of volunteer FF with out paying the monies to pad some CEO’S Pocket. Thank You but no Thanks!! Volunteers Rule!!

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  18. Union Thug // April 1, 2017 at 11:33 pm // Reply

    Yeeahaaaaawwwww! Lookie herr at this perty red sticker. I think imma put it right next to my John Deere one!

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  19. I will not follow station-pride Every against.

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    • Ron Givens // April 2, 2017 at 1:48 pm // Reply

      Why so serious?

      It’s merely a lightly written article to break up the seriousness and stress of our job.

      No different than some of the facts that are given by some of today’s news sources.

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  20. They’re ONLY trying to pocket our money to abet the benefits for the paid firefighters. What can the give a volunteer? A raise? in what? Benefits? Many are already available, we just have to open our eyes. Ultimately it could COST US MONEY. By them dealing with an individual fire district, they could create snags which would require more legal services and that cost MONEY, TAX MONEY. Ultimately, they could be aiming for creating more PAID DEPARTMENTS, which gives them even more money.

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  21. valleycaptain // April 3, 2017 at 2:36 pm // Reply

    I wish I could believe the IAFF is actually looking to recruit volunteers to provide support but it is evidently clear this only about collecting dues to support union survival. I volunteer because I want to help out my and surrounding communities. I know I am not going to get paid or receive benefits.

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  22. Kevin Hayes // April 8, 2017 at 12:44 am // Reply

    April Fool’s Day has come and gone, and it’s an event for which the Station Pride staff obviously had lots of fun penning highly satirical articles that were beyond incredulous. I was amazed at how many readers/followers subsequently penned poisonous rebuttals regarding those efforts to provide some levity in the otherwise life-and-death realities of our profession (paid personnel) and/or paraprofession (volunteers). Have we become so full of ourselves that everything we read is immediately taken to heart? Do we honestly believe that everything we read, especially on the internet, is the truth? Do we not afford ourselves the opportunity to “reality check” what we are seeing or hearing? Having spent 40 years on both sides of the professional/paraprofessional fence, my experience is “not so!” Regardless of any station’s paid or volunteer status, I have rarely seen any failure to seize the moment to turn something said or done into a joke or prank, except in the midst of a call. Even then, we very often later engage in what could be called morbid humor to defuse the stress of situations we have encountered. Station Pride has constructively addressed those very situations and behaviors. Lighten up, folks, and take the opportunity to laugh at the fact that you may have taken the bait “hook, line and sinker,” even for a moment! Laughter, perhaps with a touch of humility, can be good for what ails you.

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  23. The iaff is nothing more than a legalized criminal organization.

    Like

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