IAFF Secretary-Treasurer John C. Kabachus testifies before the U.S. Senate urging the establishment of a Department of Urban Affairs. In his testimony before the U.S. Senate, he cites the fact that many important fire prevention and protection functions have been neglected in urban areas because of lack of funds, planning personnel and local technical expertise. He also points out that a federal agency could aid in the spread of more effective building codes and fire safety standards. The head of the proposed Department would have Presidential Cabinet status.
The IAFF endorses three congressional bills which would allow federal fire fighters, who have been on a saved pay basis since 1954, to elect a change over to the premium salary rates presently covering the majority of those in the federal firefighting service.
January 28, 1961
Eight fire fighters die in one of the worst fire tragedies in the history of Chicago when the wall of a six-story building collapses and buries them under an avalanche of fiery concrete, brick, timbers and dust. The stage for the tragedy was set when several fire fighters, atop a two-story loft directing hose streams, suddenly became engulfed in flames. A score of fire fighters clambered to their rescue when the wall gave way. Within minutes the other walls of the structure gave way, injuring numerous fire fighters and burying several pieces of apparatus. Many fire fighters fought their way to safety through fire, smoke and dust.
The IAFF informs members that personal contact with legislators, either face-to-face discussions or telephone calls, is the most effective lobbying tool, and recommends that when fire fighters send letters to their congressmen, they should write the letters themselves, keep them simple and mail them to the correct address.
U.S. President John F. Kennedy sets the stage for the recognition of federal employee unions.
The IAFF sponsors seminars in Michigan, Georgia and California in opposition to the consolidation of fire and police departments into single public safety forces.
“Fire fighters and policemen require different skills. Each of these occupations is vastly different in giving protection to communities. One is to guard citizens through the protection of laws. The other is to guard against and fight the spread of fire.”
William D. Buck, IAFF President (1957-1968)
An IAFF survey of 1,200 communities indicates that deaths and injuries among fire fighters in the United States and Canada are rising.
Medical professionals describe the heart and lung dangers confronting fire fighters.
The IAFF expresses concern that fire apparatus deserve the right of way in route to fires, but does not always get it, resulting in tragic traffic-related deaths.
IAFF headquarters produces a heavy work volume, based on 1960 data. Its 10-member staff provided services to 1,100 local unions and 95,600 professional fire fighters, responded to 7,800 in-coming telephone calls, and managed 2,500 research inquiries. The International Fire Fighter editors and authors wrote 300,000 words and displayed 400 pictures to depict IAFF and union activities.
IAFF fire fighters throughout the United States are asked to contribute, through their local unions, a total of $7,800 for the Eleanor Roosevelt Cancer Foundation as part of a $1 million pledge from the AFL-CIO and its national and international affiliates.
March 12, 1961
Three Canadian fire fighters are killed in Quebec City while fighting a blaze at the Modern Fruit warehouse. Due to the accumulation of heavy smoke inside the building, a stone wall four stories high collapsed, burying the three victims and injuring five other members of the fire department.
The IAFF provides helpful guidance to fire fighters filing their income tax forms, including information on pensions, disability, sick pay, union expenses and home sales, among other topics.
The Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization issues guidance procedures covering the separation of fire and police radio networks which must be completed before October 31, 1963.
A far-reaching agreement in Montreal results in an additional 600 members joining the firefighting force.
At the AFL-CIO annual convention held in December 1961 in Miami Beach, Florida, Mrs. Thelma Cullen of Baltimore, Maryland, President of the Ladies’ Auxiliary to the IAFF, reports that she has been elected as one of eight vice presidents to the National AFL-CIO Auxiliaries.
The IAFF’s official seal is registered in the United States Patent Office. To denote the patent note, the encircled letter R appears within the seal.
Planning for a National Fire Defense School is underway to train the nation’s fire defense force to be capable of combating atomic conflagrations, which a nuclear attack could unleash. The IAFF is among the organizations serving on the National Fire Defense Advisory Committee.
At the AFL-CIO Convention in December 1961, IAFF leadership garners support from 900 delegates from 133 other national and international affiliates for two important resolutions: Affirmation of opposition to any proposal that fire and police departments be merged and the establishment of salary standards for professional fire fighters at least equal to wages prevailing for skilled craftsmen.
“If the average citizen were told on the street that he might have been responsible for the death or injury of a fire fighter, he’d probably shrug his shoulders and remark: ‘Is this a joke?’ No, Mr. Citizen, it’s no joke. You may have been responsible in tightening municipal purse strings to the fire fighter you might have needed someday, but who is now dead or permanently maimed.”
William D. Buck, IAFF President (1957-1968)