Hey all,

I got a phone call today from a brother out of State. We hadn’t talked in about 6 months and he regularly kept up with the Roanoke Fire Blog. Apparently, he missed the transition from the old blogspot address and hosting to the new and improved site here at RoanokeFire.com. In all actuality, he had emailed me back in February, as a lot of other guys did, but I did not return their emails. It was not out of disrespect, I just didn’t feel like talking about what was going on in Roanoke. I didn’t care about what was going on.

Some of you might be asking how such a big proponent for positive change, safety concerns, and the all around need for truth in the department would suddenly not care. I will give you a short synopsis, and yes comments are open so you can throw in whatever the hell you want.

Prior to January, I was the Secretary/Treasurer of IAFF Local 1132, a position I held for somewhere around 4 years. I loved the job, with all of its ups and downs. The biggest perk was being able to meet and hang around many others locally, across the State, and even across the Nation who were like me, wanted change, and were committed to the IAFF and their Union Brothers and Sisters.

After January, I was no longer the Secretary/Treasurer. The reason being is because I resigned. I resigned at the request of some of the members of my Local. Don’t think for a minute that it was a majority of the members, it wasn’t.

It has now been several months since that meeting and I have not talked about it too much. Not because it is painful to talk about, but because it angers me. It doesn’t anger me that I resigned. It angers me because I figured if they weren’t happy with the way I was doing things, they would DO things differently. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Instead, the movers and shakers of the Local are still plugging away minus one and the the ones who wanted my head on a stake are still doing what they did before…nothing constructive.

I get asked all the time to post stuff on the blog. Things like “our apparatus was out of service” or “did you see what they did the other day” or “what about those cuts that City Council is thinking about”. I hear it, but I didn’t post it. I didn’t post it because I was sick of sticking my neck out.That is about over. I am going to get back into it.

I still believe that this site was a great way of educating:

  1. The public learned about what was going on
  2. The press learned about what was going on
  3. The public and press were explained things that are usually swept under the rug
  4. Other Union Brothers learned about what we were going through
  5. Union Brothers learned that it is ok to speak up
  6. Marketing the Department and Local across the Nation as a great department (faults and all)

After all, we are a great department.

I am looking out the window and noticing that nothing is still burning. We don’t burn houses to the ground like some neighboring departments (has a lot to do with response times). We work well together. For the most part, we look out for one another.

Our local has come along, but it hasn’t even scratched the surface of what it is capable of. One thing I was always weary of was exposing weaknesses of our Local. I wasn’t covering anything up, I just wasn’t giving attention to things we should be doing better.

Luckily, it doesn’t matter anymore. I can no longer be held accountable for my words as an officer of the Local. That is a big weight off of my shoulders. Therefore, you will soon hear more about what is wrong and what we need to do better as a Local.

The best part of not being the Secretary/Treasurer is that I get to coach my son in soccer and lacrosse. I get to go see my daughter do gymnastics and dance. I get to hang out with my wife. I get to get back to living and I am loving every minute of it.

I get to do all that and I don’t have some asshole standing by to say that I am not doing anything or asking what I am doing for them.

I have always stood by the reasoning that an organization is only as strong as its members. Local 1132 is no different as are most Locals in the States and Canada.

We could be so much stronger if the ones who say things like “What is the IAFF doing for me” would spend their energy becoming part of the solution.

I am still an IAFF member and I am looking forward to staying involved. I am a proud IAFF member.

- Rhett Fleitz

Just when you think we have made headway, we are blindsided by a ball buster move by the National League of Cities.

OUR Friends over at Tri-Data (our latest axemen) were contracted out by the National League of Cities to see if firefighters are at more of a risk for cancer (something I thought was proven a long time ago).

The National League of Cities has published this report and a press release on how firefighters are at no more risk than anyone else.

In case you don’t know who Tri-Data is, they are the ones who put the last nail in the coffin for our most recent downsizing. By most recent I mean all of it. By all of it, I mean our current lack of manpower, trucks which just disappear into the night, and station closures.

Those presumptive laws which Virginia DOES have were fought for by your IAFF brothers and sisters. Those laws were created for our benefit and we deserve them.

This is just another reason why you should be INVOLVED in your Local IAFF. This is why they exist, and this is why they need support.

I don’t know if I posted this or not, but here it is. I was interviewed a couple of months ago by Dave Coker, the VP of Greensboro IAFF Local 947. They interviewed me about this blog and my Union activities. I think it gives a glimpse into why I do what I do and what I think about things. Take a look here.
Maybe you have seen this ad running on tv, maybe not. Before you say that your Union dues are paying for this, they are not. This is paid for by the IAFF FIREPAC, which some of you may fund voluntarily. The firefighters in the ad are from Fairfax County. The ads were created in three forms, the one you see and two others taking aim at McCain as well as two other State Senator races I believe in North Carolina and New Hamshire.

I had the opportunity to speak with some of the IAFF/MDA members while at the IAFF Convention. I got to try out this new game they have begun on the World Golf Tour. The golf game is online and can be played from any computer. The cost is $10 to $30 depending on what you want to take a crack at. The proceeds go to the MDA through the IAFF. The IAFF is the largest contributer to the MDA last year raising $27 million. If you never have time to come out for fill the boot or any other MDA events that your Roanoke Valley Professional Fire Fighters put on, give this a chance. Click on the image below or I have also added a banner to the right. Game play stops on October 31st. Good luck.

The press release is below

MDA, World Golf Tour Host First Virtual

Charity Golf Tournament

IAFF Members Can Play in the “Jerry Lewis MDA Open”

to Fight Muscular Dystrophy

TUCSON, Ariz., Oct. 10, 2008 – The Muscular Dystrophy Association and World Golf Tour (WGT) today launched the first-ever Jerry Lewis MDA Open, an online charity golf tournament that benefits the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

The tournament, which runs through Oct. 31, will take place on WGT’s virtual high-definition (HD) re-creation of The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina and the Bali Hai Golf Club in Las Vegas. It features a leaderboard contest and sweepstakes drawing.

A special registration page has been created for IAFF members to allow the proceeds collected from members to be credited to IAFF’s annual donations to the Association. IAFF members can register at www.jerrylewisopen.org/iaff.

“This is a great way for our fire fighters to compete, have fun and raise funds for ‘my kids’ all at the same time,” said MDA National Chairman, Jerry Lewis.

YuChiang Cheng, CEO of World Golf Tour said, “We’re excited to offer a game for everyone to enjoy while contributing to this life-changing foundation. As the game of golf has a long history of philanthropic causes, World Golf Tour is brining that tradition to our online game,” explains Cheng.

Participants in the tournament’s Leaderboard contest compete for a Kiawah Island Golf Resort package for two; the second-place finisher will receive a golf package for two at Westin La Paloma Golf Resort in Tucson, Ariz.; and the third-place winner is awarded a set of TaylorMade golf clubs and bag.

For a suggested donation, players also can enter the sweepstakes drawing. The winner will receive a Las Vegas golf package for two, which includes a stay at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas and golf at Bali Hai Golf Course.

Funds raised from the tour help support MDA’s programs of worldwide research, comprehensive health care services, advocacy and professional and public health education.

About Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA)

MDA is a voluntary health agency working to defeat muscular dystrophy and related diseases. The Association’s programs are funded almost entirely by individual private contributors.

For information about MDA services, go to www.mda.org.

About IAFF

The IAFF has been an MDA national sponsor for 54 years. Its members have raised money for the fight against muscular dystrophy and related diseases through the annual Fill-the-Boot campaign, golf and softball tournaments, and other special events. Many fire fighters also contribute their time at MDA summer camps across the country. For more information on these programs, please visit http://mda.org/help/natevents.html.

About World Golf Tour

San Francisco-based World Golf Tour™ (www.wgt.com) (WGT) is the world’s most authentic online golf experience. WGT’s mission is to bring the golf lifestyle and game to everyone via the Web, making the sport accessible and affordable for all. The World Golf Tour experience allows golf enthusiasts to play the world’s most challenging and exclusive courses through superior HD graphics on a PC or Mac platform – for free, no download or software needed. WGT’s online community allows friends, families and golf fans to play a round of golf simultaneously, competing in tournaments for prizes, sharing scores, testing out the newest equipment and reading the latest news in the golfing world. For more information, please visit www.wgt.com

This Event has been canceled. Thank you for all who were planning on attending.

Attention IAFF members in the Roanoke Valley and across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Harold Schaitberger will be in Roanoke with Senator Joe Biden on Sunday. The event will be held at Century Park Plaza across from the Historic #1 firehouse. You can get into the park by ticket at 11am, with Biden/Schaitberger appearing around 12 or 1230. If you would like to participate please contact Rhett Fleitz at FireFleitz@cox.net or by cell phone 540-537-8158. The IAFF has secured 100 spots for us at this event and we will have t-shirts on hand for everyone attending. Please let us know if you would like to attend or if you are planning on attending. VPFF President Mike Mohler and others will also be in attendance.

I will try to stay on top of the News Coverage following the Roanoke Fire Fighters Association’s stance against the budget cuts.

From what I have heard already, the Council Members were very receptive to our message. Some are said to have remarked that our presence and our message was the biggest and most impressive that the Council Members had seen in their tenure on Council.

Another little birdie told me that Mayor Nelson Harris was at the previous meeting at 5pm and even ate the catered dinner after that meeting between 5pm and 6pm. However, at 10 minutes to 7pm, Harris handed the gavel to Vice-Mayor Trinkle and tip-toed out the back door. I guess our presence was something that he did not want to get involved in during Elections. I also understand that the City Manager was not prepared and tongue tied while being interviewed afterwards.

I have so many things I would love to say right now, but instead I will leave you with this fact. Ninety One (91) Firefighters were in Council Chambers tonight. That is more than one-third of the department. Remember that one-third was working. I think we have your attention.

I must say that tonight I was a very proud Firefighter and a very proud member of the RFFA. To see you all come together in unity and solidarity was truly moving. Scooter’s account of his incident, Rorrer’s talk about Scooter, and Rodney’s account of Kyle Wilson all gave me goose bumps. It brought me to a place that I will be speaking of in the future on the blog.

I look forward to the Roanoke Times in the morning. Look for the story on Scott Hetherington on the front page of the Virginia section as well as an article by Mason Adams on the Council Meeting last night.

Click on the links below for news and video.

Firefighter Hourly covered the story here
The FireEMSBlog covered Scooters story here
STATter 911 covered the story last week here
Valerie Garner covered the story on her blog here

Firefighter Returns After Heart Attack – WSET
Roanoke firefighter returns after heart attack
Video: Firefighter returns to duty since suffering cardiac arrest – Roanoke Times
Firefighter reclaims spot at station – Roanoke Times

Firefighters upset about proposed cuts to Roanoke’s fire department – WDBJ
City seeks widespread budget cuts in proposal – Roanoke Times
Firefighters Face Cuts – WSET
Roanoke Firefighters Association makes statement at City Hall – WSLS
Many fired up about proposed cuts to Roanoke’s fire department
Firefighters Fight Cuts – WSET (a snippet is below)

Chief David Hoback, Roanoke Fire & EMS – “City council, city manager, no one wants to do this. But the fire department, being the second largest budget, has to contribute their share.” And Chief Hoback decided the only way to reduce his budget by $350,000 to $400,000, as instructed, was to reduce his staffing. A decision that has his firefighters rallying against him. Lt. Rhett Fleitz, Firefighters Assoc. Local 1132 – “This isn’t necessarily the firefighters against the fire chief. This is more so, the firefighters against the budget cuts.” Cuts that would scale back the staffing at Station 13 on Peters Creek Road from six firefighters to three, the absolute minimum required to operate a truck. Fleitz – “This proposal will jeopardize Roanoke City (web) firefighters as well as the citizens we’re trying to protect.” Chief David Hoback, Roanoke Fire & EMS – “They will not see a difference. They will not experience a difference. The truck will still get there in four minutes or less and be able to meet those performance standards.” But Chief Hoback admits, if adopted, this proposal would stretch his department thin. He says reducing any more positions would force them to eliminate a station. And no one wants that.

The Roanoke Fire Fighters Association has called a special meeting on Monday April 28th at 7pm. The meeting will be held at the Union hall. All members are encouraged to attend.
Chris Dodd, the IAFF Firefighters Candidate for Presidency Calls it Quits.

Just moments after Obama and Huckabee were announced as the Caucus winners in IOWA, Chris Dodd announced that he is calling it quits. Dodd walked away early with the IAFF backing and hoped to enjoy the same momentum that John Kerry had just 4 years ago coming out of Iowa.

Chris Dodd’s nomination by the IAFF was a surprise to many as I have wrote about in the past. Many did not know who he was. When the polls showed that Clinton and Obama were leading the pack, the IAFF decided to go with Dodd. This is believed to be mostly in part by the firefighters who were at the IAFF Presidential forum in D.C. last year. The firefighters, several thousand in numbers, each filled out questionnaires about each individual candidate who spoke. The candidates included Obama, Dodd, Clinton, Biden, Richardson, Brownback, McCain, and others.

Now that Dodd is out of the picture, it will be interesting to see whose name will end up in Black and Gold.

More later, Neither Dodd’s website or the IAFF website have posted anything on the matter.

Update: This was received from the Dodd Campaign tonight:

Dear Friend,

I count the past year of campaigning for the presidency as one of the most rewarding in a career of public service.

Unfortunately, I am withdrawing from that campaign tonight.

But there is no reason to hang our heads this evening — only the opportunity to look towards a continuation of the work we started last January: ending the Iraq War, restoring the Constitution, and putting a Democrat in the White House.

I know a lot of you came to this email list through a shared desire to return our nation to one that respects the rule of law, and I want to make one thing clear to all of you:

The fight to restore the Constitution and stop retroactive immunity does not end with my Presidential campaign. FISA will come back in a few weeks and my pledge to filibuster ANY bill that includes retroactive immunity remains operative.

You’ve been an invaluable ally in the battle, and I’ll need you to stick by my side despite tonight’s caucus results.

So, one more time, thank you for all of your efforts throughout the course of this entire Presidential campaign.

We made a real difference in shaping the debate, and we’ll continue to do so in the coming days, weeks and years.

I’ll never forget you, and what we’ve fought for, together, over the past year.

Chris Dodd


Yesterday saw a potential huge loss to firefighters across the Nation. I tuned into CSpan yesterday to watch the Senate in session debating the Farm Bill. The Republicans and Democrats attached 20 amendments to the bill each. One of the amendments is amendment 3830 which is the Public Safety Officer Employer/Employee Cooperation Act or the Firefighters bill as it was commonly known as among the Senators. The bill largely backed by the IAFF as well as the Fraternal Order of Police and State Troopers would basically give collective bargaining rights to all Public Safety.

Another amendment involved in the Farm Bill is H.R. 3997, as amended, which would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide earnings assistance and tax relief to members of the uniformed services, volunteer firefighters, and Peace Corps volunteers, and for other purposes.

As I watched many of the amendments get discussed and voted down, I thought that the firefighters amendment was good to go. Unfortunately, I believe that was not the case.

This below what I felt I understood of the end of today’s session, please do not take this for fact until something official comes out.

It appeared as though the drawn out discussions on the amendments were taxing the Senators and around 7pm a Senator asked for Cloture. Cloture basically means ending debate on the bill and voting. Prior to the vote on the cloture, it seemed as though the Firefighters amendment was withdrawn. Following, Senators spoke out about the fact that cloture was needed but that they were dismayed by the fact that they could not come to agreement on certain important amendments; one of those being the firefighters amendment.

Following that, cloture was voted on and they apparently ended the day. Tomorrow morning, when we felt they would be voting yeah for the Farm Bill with our amendment attached they will instead be voting on the Farm Bill with whichever amendments that had been voted yeah for prior to cloture.

And so we are left with another year without Collective Bargaining. Although I am positive that the IAFF will be back next year with even more support for our Bill.

I want to be clear on one thing, I could be wrong on what I thought I saw in the proceedings. Please watch the IAFF website to see what they have to say about the bill.

I will be in Court all morning and I will add more later in the day including any additions and corrections.


This is from the IAFF this morning:

Anti-Labor Senators Derail Fire Fighter Bargaining Bill

December 14, 2007 — With the Senate on the verge of passing the IAFF’s national collective bargaining bill, a small group of hard-line anti-labor senators engaged in a series of parliamentary tactics late last night to block the Senate from acting. With no way to overcome the obstacles, the Senate was forced to postpone action on the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act until after the New Year.

“I am personally outraged that a small group of senators are denying the nation’s fire fighters the basic right to discuss how they do their job,” says IAFF General President Schaitberger. “But this battle is far from over. Ultimately, I promise that this legislation will be signed into law.”

Both Democratic and Republican Senate leadership had agreed to allow the IAFF’s collective bargaining bill to be offered as an amendment to the comprehensive Farm bill, which the Senate had to finish before the Christmas break. With time running out in the legislative session, the Farm bill was one of the last legislative vehicles that was a “must” piece of legislation that could carry the proposal, while at the same time making it more difficult for the president to veto.

Prior to beginning debate on the Farm bill, the Senate unanimously agreed that each political party would be allowed to offer up to 20 amendments to the bill on any topic they chose, as long as those amendments were approved by a super-majority of 60 Senators. The two leading sponsors of the IAFF’s bargaining bill — Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH) and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) — jointly agreed that the the collective bargaining bill would be offered as a Democratic amendment.

After more than two dozen amendments were debated and voted on, Democrats moved to bring up our amendment. To the surprise of leaders of both parties, anti-labor senators, led by Jim DeMint (R-SC) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), refused to honor the unanimous consent agreement which would allow the Senate to consider the amendment. Additionally, they vowed to engage in parliamentary guerilla tactics to tie the Senate in knots.

Complicating the process, five key Senate supporters of the collective bargaining proposal are spending most of their time in Iowa and New Hampshire as they run for president. DeMint and Enzi knew that the IAFF would have a hard time meeting the 60-vote threshold without Senators Biden, Clinton, Dodd, McCain and Obama. While the presidential candidates had agreed to return to Washington last night, canceling their scheduled events for a significant portion of today to vote on the amendment this morning, there was no way the Senate leadership on both sides of the aisles could put the presidential campaigns on hold to remain in Washington indefinitely.

With no way to circumvent the parliamentary hurdles that could have dragged on for a couple of days, Gregg and Kennedy were forced to withdraw their amendment.

“Our opponents may have delayed the inevitable outcome, which will be the passage of the Public Employer-Employee Cooperation Act,” Schaitberger says, “but we know that the will of the Congress, the continued support of the Senate leadership and the will of the American People cannot be thwarted for long. We will prevail and we will prevail in this 110th Congress.”

Hey all, I get a lot of questions about he Collective Bargaining Bill. Below is the update from the IAFF. Basically, YOU NEED TO CALL YOUR SENATORS TO SUPPORT THIS BILL. The switchboard for Senators is (202) 224 3121. Read more below.

By the way: Virginia’s Senators are Jim Webb and John Warner. I made the phone calls and simply asked for their support in the Amendment for the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act by Senator Gregg, Kennedy, and Harkin. They said they would pass it along and asked for my zip code. This is a numbers game people. You better hope we outnumber the Right To Work people.

You can also email Senator Warner here

Or Senator Webb here


The day we have long anticipated is at hand. The U.S. Senate will be considering the IAFF’s Collective Bargaining proposal TODAY between 3:45 and 5:00 p.m. A vote is likely tomorrow.

The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act was offered as an amendment to the Farm Bill by Senators Judd Gregg (R-NH), Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA).

We must mobilize our membership immediately to begin making phone calls to Senate offices. In every office, senators are already receiving dozens of calls — from constituents in their states who oppose this vital legislation.

Our message is simple: Tell your senators, regardless of party, to vote in favor of the bipartisan Gregg, Kennedy, Harkin Amendment to the Farm Bill.

This is now a numbers game. Every Senate office has been educated on the issue. Your call is not about explaining the ins and outs of collective bargaining — it’s about generating as many phone calls as possible in the next 24-48 hours.

Again — a very simple message — vote in favor of the Gregg, Kennedy, Harkin Amendment to the Farm Bill.

The phone number for the Senate switchboard is (202) 224 3121. Your members can simply dial that number and ask to be connected to their respective senator’s office.

Your assistance in mobilizing your members to make these phone calls is greatly appreciated.


Kevin B. O’Connor
Assistant to the General President
Governmental Affairs and Public Policy


Dear IAFF Member:

Our long antiicpated day has arrived. The U.S. Senate will be considering the IAFF’s national collective bargaining bill in the next few days, with a vote likely to follow. I am asking all IAFF members to call their senators TODAY and tell them to support America’s fire fighters and police officers by voting in favor of the Harkin-Kennedy-Gregg “Fire Fighter” amendment to the Farm Bill.

This is expected to be a very close vote, and your senators could be the deciding vote!

More than 80,000 of your brother and sister fire fighters in 18 states do not currently enjoy basic employment rights. The Harkin-Kennedy-Gregg “Fire Fighter” amendment ensures that every fire fighter has the right to collectively bargain.

National Right to Work and city managers are lobbying hard against us. To be successful, we need to flood the Senate with phone calls supporting the “Fire Fighter” amendment. Call your senators and ask your friends and family to call their senators in support of public safety officers.

This International has fought for the last 12 years to bring this issue to a vote. Please give five minutes of your time to call your senators and urge them to stand with their fire fighters and support the Harkin-Kennedy-Gregg amendment to the Farm Bill.

The Senate switchboard number is (202) 224-3121. Simply call this number and ask to be transferred to your senator’s office.

With your help we can achieve one of the biggest victories in the history of the IAFF.

Support the “Fire Fighter” amendment.

Sincerely and Fraternally,

Harold Schaitberger
General President

Did you know that IAFF Local 1132 (Roanoke Fire Fighters Association) runs a nearly complete listing of IAFF Locals call the IAFF Locals Listing (http://www.IAFFLocals.com). If you didn’t, now you do.

I digress…I realized today that the IAFF Locals List has achieved excellent status on Google. That is right. If you search google for “IAFF”, with or without the qoutation marks, that the website is #2 just behind the IAFF website (http://www.IAFF.org). Let me just say that it has taken about a year and a half to reach this status.

I just thought I would pass along the news. You can view the search here.

By the way, we get about 10 additions each week for the site and I update it about once a week.

There is a thread on firehouse forums right now where the firefighters are discussing pay across the Nation. I just had to laugh at some of the figures compared to ours. You can view the thread here. It is interesting how one of the firefighters from South Carolina gives his pay and then makes the comment that it is the benefit of working for a Right To Work State. Needless to say, his pay is on the lower end of the spectrum. That same lower end of the spectrum is the same area where ours is located.

We can only hope that we can get the National Collective Bargaining Bill passed and actually have some say on our pay grades.

Another note is that Roanoke City just sent many Chiefs to the International Association of Fire Chiefs conference. That same group (IAFC) is rumored to be fighting against the Collective Bargaining Bill. Does this mean that Roanoke City will soon be sending firefighters to IAFF events?

Just a thought.

You can view more information about the Collective Bargaining Bill here.
View some key points about the bill here.


I would like to clarify my comments from the last post.

When I said:

The other day at at a Union Meeting, I had the pleasure of answering a question that boggled my mind. A firefighter stopped by to borrow some items from the Union. Items which the Union owns and regularly allows members to borrow. It just so happens that the member stopped by minutes before a Union meeting. He asked what we were doing there. I told him we were there for a meeting. Then he asked “What do you guys do at the meeting?”. In which I responded we are planning out his career. He had no comment.

I meant this as an ambiguous example to drive home my point that the members need to be informed because obviously some of them aren’t. I did not bring this up as a personal attack on anyone and I realize that the member who asked the question did not mean any harm by it. I do not expect all 250 of you to know everything that is going on all the time. I just wanted to show the degree of communication that needs to occur, which doesn’t.

On the other hand, if you have an issue with what I write then you can do one of many things. You can call me, page me, meet me in person, email me, leave a comment (to which I usually answer), or just let it be. I prefer the communication, especially if you take issue with my words.

I decided a while back that I would not use this blog as a voice for my role as a Union Official. I enjoy the fact that at least some of you realize that when I write on here it is me as a firefighter and not as one of my other roles.

I learned that many of you all did not like to hear some of what I had to say as a Union Official in this unofficial forum.

I am not changing that stance. What I write below comes as a firefighter, not as a Union Official, however it has everything to do with the Union.

The other day at at a Union Meeting, I had the pleasure of answering a question that boggled my mind. A firefighter stopped by to borrow some items from the Union. Items which the Union owns and regularly allows members to borrow. It just so happens that the member stopped by minutes before a Union meeting. He asked what we were doing there. I told him we were there for a meeting. Then he asked “What do you guys do at the meeting?”. In which I responded we are planning out his career. He had no comment.

What did I mean by my answer. Simply, the Union is asked questions from members at each meeting which we are then tasked to find answers to. These questions range from simple to complex.

The meeting also serves as a continuing business plan for the direction in which we travel on various issues.

When I get around to various stations, which I do frequently, I am often asked what the Union is doing about this or that. My question is who are you referring to?

The Union is every member. Not anyone person more than another.

When asked why the Union is doing something, I usually offer the answer “because that is what the members voted to do.

That is where members are usually uneducated about the process. Why are they uneducated about Union business? I don’t know the answer to that. I can offer some suggestions.

  1. They don’t care
  2. They don’t know when the meetings are
  3. They don’t think they have a voice in the Union
  4. They don’t have time
  5. They aren’t willing to make time
I know that most members work 2 jobs and are involved in their children’s sports, Church, and other things. So are most of the members who are involved. There aren’t too many members who make it to every meeting, or that sign on to be in a bunch of committees. However, if we have members who are willing to allot a couple of hours each month at helping the Union move forward we would be able to accomplish so much more.

In the future, with hopes of the new Collective Bargaining Bill passing, we will rely on more and more member involvement to get initiatives planned and processed. The handful of extremely active members we have now will be very busy planning out and carrying out the negotiations which come along with collective bargaining. These negotiations and the contract to follow will be written by our members. You will have to have a voice in what you would like to see changed in order for your ideas to be heard.

I know that many members have lost interest due to the proceedings of Union meetings and issues in the past. Things have changed. I have been to most of the meetings in the past 4 years and I can say that the bitch sessions have ended.

These same issues we had in the past are the reason why I stopped going to Union meetings shortly after being hired. Ever since realizing that I wanted to be a Career Firefighter, I wanted to be a member of the IAFF. I understand what the IAFF stands for and I want to be a part of making my workplace, my career, my lifestyle better.

Many of you get a kick out of asking what the IAFF has done for you. I can say that rarely does the IAFF walk away with bad news. Many of the things that you take for granted were awarded at the Local, State, and Federal level. Three big initiatives are the Heart/Lung Bill, the Presumptive Laws, and soon to be Collective Bargaining.

Each meeting, we bring up the proper process for Workers Compensation Claims. This issue has been talked about in depth for the last year. However, we still have members who do not know. Why not? The word is not getting out.

I know that many of you do not like to hear “Come to a Union Meeting and you will find out”. Well the comment could not be more clear. I know that the days after a Union Meeting I am tasked with giving a brief synopsis of the meeting to many of the members I come in contact with. I don’t mind filling you guys in, but it sure would be easier if you guys were there. I cannot guarantee that I will remember everything.

At the meetings, when something new is brought up which requires action, we are tasked with finding someone to carry it out. Inevitably, this person already has a lot on their plate and due to lack of involvement by others, these persons have to do more.

Don’t think that for a moment our Union is any different from most others. When I go out of town to conventions, seminars, and meetings I find the same issues to plague many other locals.

More than likely you can measure the amount of involvement by realizing how much a Union succeeds in its endeavors. Currently, your Union is working on many initiatives and trying to mediate many issues which directly effect you.

If you have any questions about getting involved contact your Shift Vice President, Shift Steward, come to the next meeting on September 24th, or contact me.

By the way, it doesn’t matter whether you have been here 25 years or 25 days, you still have a voice.

The IAFF has just announced that they will be endorsing Senator Chris Dodd for President in 2008. I must say that being at the IAFF Presidential forum that Dodd was very receptive to firefighters needs. The firefighters up in Connecticut are very proud of their Senator who has championed many of their causes.

I am sure that this endorsement will be a shock to many IAFF members who hold their respective State’s Presidential Hopeful near and dear. I know that there is a large conglomerate of H. Clinton supporters in the NY area, Richardson in New Mexico, Biden in Deleware, and some others who have been very good to the firefighters in their States.

This endorsement will more than likely have many IAFF members wondering who the hell Chris Dodd is and why he is being endorsed if he isn’t at the top of any polls right now.

Then there will be many who are letting out a sigh of relief for the fact that Hillary was not endorsed. I know so many of you were ready to turn in your cards if she had been endorsed.

It will be interesting to see the Dodd camp get such a boost of support. I expect that the polls will soon show an increase in strength.

However, the job isn’t done that easy. The IAFF has endorsed Dodd after much deliberation. The IAFF did studies, polls, interviews, etc. before coming to this decision. They have figured out that Dodd is your best bet for President according to what you say and what you stand for as a firefighter. More later on what you can do to ensure his win.

This from Harold Shaitberger and the IAFF:

Senator… Soldier… Patriot…

Experience and Leadership Our Country Needs

We have a core political philosophy on which all of our political work hinges. We will support those who support us.

In the 2008 presidential election, there are a number of candidates with solid records on fire fighter and working family issues. The proven, demonstrated ability to lead on those issues are what we weigh the most when deciding who will receive the considerable support and endorsement of our great union. These successes tell us what kind of leadership each candidate will offer as our president.

So we did the background work and looked at the candidates’ records on fire fighter and working family issues. We saw which issues they have a history of supporting and where they led the fight to change things for the better. And we examined the strengths each candidate would bring in a general election.

We listened to the candidates’ words, hosted forums and printed information about them in our magazine. We talked with our leaders and members across the country. Your IAFF Executive Board took that information and found one candidate out of all those running in both parties really stood head and shoulders above the rest when it came to support for fire fighters, for protecting our country and on issues that are important to our economy, our families and their quality of life.

That candidate is U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, and that’s why your IAFF Executive Board reached a consensus and will formally vote August 29 and announce the IAFF’s endorsement of Senator Dodd for president of the United States.

Senator Chris Dodd’s full record will be available on the “Fire Fighters For Dodd” web site at www.firefightersfordodd.com
beginning Wednesday, August 29.

Chris understands service, duty and leadership. He’s spent his entire adult life serving our country and its citizens.

As a young man, he joined the Peace Corps, and as he worked in rural communities in the Dominican Republic he learned the value of the United States leading the way for others.

After fulfilling that commitment, Chris enlisted in the Army National Guard and later served in the U.S. Army Reserves.

And after earning a law degree, he ran for and was elected to Congress in 1974, where he served three terms in the House of Representatives on behalf of Connecticut, then was elected to represent his state in the U.S. Senate in 1980.

His record of leadership on issues that have helped American workers not just keep their heads above water, but to get ahead, is long and distinguished. It tells us a lot about the kind of president he will make and why we believe he can win.

Just as important, Chris Dodd’s record is probably the best in the history of the U.S. Congress in leading the fight to ensure that the funding, resources and staffing fire fighters need to do their jobs safely and effectively is there.

He wasn’t just a co-sponsor of the FIRE Act; he wrote it.

He wasn’t just a co-sponsor of the SAFER Act; he wrote it.

Chris has co-sponsored our collective bargaining legislation.

He helped lead the fight to implement all of the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Report.

Dodd supports increased funding for Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grants, the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) program and other block grants to assist first responders.

In fact, one of his first votes as a young congressman was to authorize the original PSOB program in September 1976.

Chris has earned the support of this IAFF, and as we unite in support of his candidacy, I believe the country will once again see in our candidate the values and strength that they see in their fire fighters.

With the boldest plans to make health insurance, college tuition and energy more affordable, we know that Chris Dodd will continue to fight for the middle class as president.

Chris Dodd has a wealth of experience and a record of leadership on national and homeland security matters. His experienced diplomacy is going to be critical in protecting our nation and leading us back to the forefront in the world again.

Chris has served the citizens of this country with distinction his entire career; he is a candidate with experience, a proven track record and a real vision for the future.

He is known as an effective lawmaker and a skillful negotiator who is respected on both sides of the political aisle – and who can bring people together to tackle big challenges.

Such qualities have served Chris well as he has been part of every major domestic and foreign policy debate over the last quarter century.

Our great country has been without sound presidential leadership for too long. This time around, experience matters. America needs a president who is a leader like Chris Dodd. No candidate has more experience, and no candidate has led the way on issues important to fire fighters and the quality of life for their families as Chris Dodd.

Local 1132 submitted 4 entries into the IAFF Media awards this year. Two articles written by Amanda Codospoti, IAFFLocals.com as an affiliate website, and “Firefighting in Roanoke” as a special one time project.

Unfortunately, there were better stories and websites, but the book actually got second place (ok third since there was a tie for first). So here is to the Roanoke Firefighters, whose book just got a little more notoriety.

You can see what else placed with “Firefighting in Roanoke” here.

You can view all of the award winners here.

Fairfax and Charlottesville also won awards.

By far the most important issue to most of my brother and sister firefighters is the collective bargaining bill that just passed through the House with tremendous support. In case you were wondering who didn’t support it look here.

The IAFF has been placing an enormous amount of resources towards getting this Bill passed in both the House and the Senate. The goal is to get enough sponsors to make the vote veto proof. You can follow along on the IAFF website here.

Some of you guys have asked what the Bill actually will afford us. The answer is this: The bills establish minimum standards for state collective bargaining laws. I am sure there will be issue with how different sides of the fence interpret the standards.

The video below sums up the testimony from several proponents of the Bill.

Here is another one

The IAFF’s top legislative priority, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007 — which guarantees collective bargaining rights for every fire fighter in the nation — has overwhelmingly passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

The bill, HR 980, won the support of a majority of the Repiblicans and Democrats in Congress, passing by a margin of 314-97.

“For more than 50 years, the IAFF has battled to guarantee every professional fire fighter the right to collectively bargain,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “This is just the first step, but it’s truly an historic moment for our union.

HR 980 assures four basic rights: the right to organize and form a union and be recognized as the exclusive representative for employees within a specific fire department; the right to bargain with respective public employers over wages and other terms and conditions of employment; the right to have a neutral third party assist in mediating any disputed issues; and the right to reduce negotiated agreements into binding, legally enforceable contracts.

Thanks to the IAFF’s aggressive grassroots efforts, HR 980 garnered 280 cosponsors, including 70 Republicans. Only 12 of the more than 2,900 bills introduced in this Congress have attained a congressional majority – 218 members – as cosponsors. “Clearly, our grassroots operation — the calls from our members in the field — succeeded in elevating this issue and generating support across all parties in the House,” Schaitberger notes.

The IAFF will now focus its efforts in the Senate and, ultimately, on lobbying the president to sign the bill into law when it reaches his desk.

For more information on HR 980, click here.

House Panel Approves IAFF Bargaining Bill

June 20, 2007 — Years of hard work by IAFF members across the country has paid off with the June 20 House Committee vote of 42 to 1 to guarantee collective bargaining rights for every fire fighter in the nation. The vote sends HR 980, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, to the full House of Representatives.

Read More over at www.Local1132.org and don’t forget to register while you are their as a new user. We recently updated the site adding a members only area. The site is still under construction.