IAFF leadership testifies at the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology Committee in support of the nomination of Gordon Vickery as administrator of the U.S. Fire Administration and the re-authorization of the National Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974, among other legislative priorities.
The U.S. Civil Service Commission changes its name to the Office of Personnel Management. With the passage of the Civil Service Reform Act, PL 95-454, federal employees, managers and supervisors face numerous personnel policy changes that affect how management and unions work together.
The IAFF seeks to eliminate exclusions in the line-of-duty death benefits law. The Public Safety Officers Benefit (PSOB) Act of 1976 excludes from coverage fire fighter deaths caused by job-related diseases such as heart attacks.
March 25, 1979
Three Lubbock, Texas, fire fighters die in a smoky building fire at the Moris Kitchen and Ice Cream Parlor and two others are treated for smoke inhalation and released. Each man’s air by-pass valve had been turned on, indicating the men were aware of a foreign substance entering their air flow. Autopsy results indicated evidence of smoke inhalation, traces of carbon monoxide and internal hemorrhaging.
The U.S. Fire Administration awards the IAFF a $30,000 contract to develop a new set of data elements for more detailed reporting of fire fighter injuries and illnesses.
“The union of fire fighters has not survived for six decades by crying in a corner when things don’t go just the way we want them to. We learn early in our firefighting careers about adversity and danger. But we also learn that eventually every fire is contained … and this is the basis for my wishes to you for a very Happy New Year in 1979!”William H. McClennan, IAFF President (1969-1980)
The IAFF hosts a three-day “Open Learning Fire Service Program” meeting in Washington, DC, with representatives from colleges and universities participating in a pilot test.
The U.S. Department of Labor concludes that the wages of production workers in states with right-to-work laws compare poorly to the wages of the same workers in the 30 states without right-to-work laws.
The IAFF criticizes NIOSH over its failure to regulate the Scott Aviation Corporation’s breathing apparatus sooner, which might have prevented the deaths of three Lubbock, Texas, fire fighters. After three years of IAFF prodding, NIOSH issues a USERS WARNING and STOP SALES recommendation to the manufacturer. Scott Aviation agrees to provide retrofit packages free of charge to fire departments after considerable advocacy by IAFF.
December 4, 1979
Three Etobicoke, Ontario, fire fighters are killed battling a fire at the Kimberly-Clark paper company. The fire had started in an area at the back of the plant where 600-pound rolls of paper were stacked, five rolls high. The company’s sprinklers were working and had saturated paper near the fire by the time the fire fighters arrived. The lower rolls had absorbed so much water that they were starting to sag under the weight of the others. The three fire fighters were killed when the rolls of paper suddenly collapsed under the weight of water and fell on them.
IAFF President William H. McClennan announces his decision to not seek re-election at the 1980 IAFF Convention in Toronto.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, fire fighters are the most heavily organized group of public employees in the United States, with 72 percent holding union membership.
The IAFF’s “1978 Annual Death and Injury Survey” shows a decrease in fire fighter deaths from occupational diseases and in the line of duty.
An IAFF survey proves that binding arbitration laws prevent the incidence of strike action by fire fighter local unions.