WHO WE ARE ...
The Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey was originally established and chartered as a State Association by the International Association of Fire Fighters on October 29, 1929, as the Uniformed Firemen’s Association of New Jersey. Charter locals included Newark Local 71, Carteret Local 292, Perth Amboy Local 286, Woodbridge Local 290 and Rahway Local 295. A short time afterward, the unions’ delegates saw fit to change the association’s name to Fire Fighters Association of New Jersey and operated as such for more than 30 years. Delegates to the 1996 convention, concerned that there be no misunderstanding of the unions calling and mission, moved by resolution to change the name of the organization to the current Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey. Despite the identity changes, the PFANJ is most often referred to as the “IAFF”. That particular reference being the most accurate in that the IAFF exists on three plains; our parent IAFF headquartered in Washington, DC, the IAFF State Association, PFANJ, headquartered in Trenton and our local affiliate unions spread across the breadth of NJ. A network of sorts designed to flow information back and forth for the benefit of all.
Since 1929, the PFANJ has grown to in excess of seventy (70) local unions of every size and complexity representing in excess of 3000 of New Jersey’s approximately 6,000 professional firefighters. In addition, the PFANJ represents over 500 EMS members who are members of PEMSA (Professional Emergency Medical Services Association) IAFF Local 4610. In all but a few cases, PFANJ/IAFF affiliates are the recognized bargaining agent responsible for terms and conditions of employment in their respective venues despite any other affiliation. Our local affiliates range from fire districts; fast developing into full time round-the-clock suburban fire and rescue agencies, to the State’s largest and busiest urban fire departments. (And all in between)
WHAT WE'RE ALL ABOUT...
The mission of the hard working, loyal and dedicated professionals that comprise the Elected Officers and General Membership of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey/IAFF, AFL-CIO, has not altered nor has its membership waivered in the performance of their duties to Union or their respective communities since its establishment 88 (plus) years ago:
To organize professional firefighters, emergency medical service, and related service(s) members for the purpose of securing just compensation for their services fair and equitable settlement of their grievances; to promote and maintain a healthy and safe work environment for members as might be possible employing modern technology, research and regulation; to promote the establishment of just and reasonable working conditions and harmonious relations between members and their employers including the establishment and maintenance of statutory collective negotiations; to assure a just standard of living for retired members and surviving families; to place members of the Association on a higher plane of skill and efficiency by way of basic and continuing training and education; to promote members active participation in all levels of local, county, State and Federal governmental affairs; to encourage formation of local unions affiliated with our parent International, its Chartered State Association, and the State and National AFL-CIO; to cultivate caring, understanding, equality, friendship and a union work and loyalty ethic amongst the membership that results in a Brother and Sisterhood of professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel organized within the House of Labor that is second to none. From the time that we first organized ourselves to today, our union has made stride after stride. The profession has been made safer, our livelihoods and retirements more secure. Our unity has shown those in positions of power and influence that we were not to be trifled with. Our unity has shown the public that they have had their standard of living preserved and even raised by our bravery and sacrifice. Our unity has allowed us to bring our message, whatever it may be, to the forefront of the societal agenda.
We continue to pursue a better quality of life for our members through legislative initiatives such as presumptive heart and cancer laws, minimum staffing, stronger EMS legislation and shoring up Collective Bargaining Laws and to protect and insure our hard earned and deserved pensions upon retirement. To educate the public regarding the dangers associated with being a member of our proud profession.
We have representation on every committee and council that has an impact on our daily operations that insures that our interests are heard. The Civil Service Fire Advisory Board, the NJ Fire Safety Commission, the Firefighter Safety & Health Advisory Council, the Public Employee Occupational Safety and Health (PEOSH) board, Arbitration Task Force, State Investment Council (SIC), Pension committee, Police and Firefighters Retirement System to name just a few. We have created a network of solid relationships with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, the Public Employee Relations Commission and have state representatives that continue to support local affiliate initiatives to provide the service that we deserve.
Through our great International union, we have an incomparable network of hard working men and women from across the nation with tremendous experience that we can draw off of.
Professional Firefighters take an oath to protect life and property. Professional Emergency Medical Personnel make a promise to serve the public. We do not agree to die, become seriously and permanently injured, disabled or ill by virtue of our occupation. In a few instances, our demise for the sake of saving a life becomes a necessity and that single conscious act defines our occupation and Membership from all others. In all other instances, our injury and death is most often associated with or the direct result of an unsafe workplace and an under-prepared workforce. We as trade labor unionists must continually strive to make our workplaces safer and workforces better prepared to face the challenges, the most dangerous and debilitating occupation in the Nation confronts us with on a daily basis. Those that insist that we work in an unsafe, under-prepared environment, despite their knowledge to the contrary, can and will be held accountable for their misdeeds against our membership, families and the Citizens we are sworn to serve.
They say some things never change. Our profession requires that you can get as close to a fire as possible and then apply water until it is extinguished. While the water part remains unchanged (since the Stone Age), ever evolving technology allows us to get deep into and closer to fires and their hazardous environments for longer periods of time than ever before. Fighting fires, response to related emergencies and medical responses has become simultaneously more efficient and dangerous at the same time. The other challenge that remains unchanged is the notion of cutting costs on the backs of firefighters and emergency medical personnel and then relying on their good nature and dedication to duty to get the job done even if it is at the expense of the firefighter or EMT’s safety, health and their life.
Our forbearers needed a strong union 88 years ago and for as long as some conspire against our ranks and families, we will need this Union of Professional Firefighters to advance our interests and concerns of The Bravest. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
You may ask “Why do I need to belong to a state union?” Brothers and Sisters, there has never been a more important time in our history than this exact moment for us to come together as one! We are being vilified on every front and made to be portrayed as the scapegoat for NJ’s terrible economy. We need to come together as one union, one brotherhood and speak in one voice and under one banner to refute the fallacies that are being orchestrated against us and to protect our hard earned rights and benefits!
We can no longer rely upon the good nature of the public we serve and protect, to support our initiatives and to sympathize with the dangers associated with our noble calling. We must stand shoulder to shoulder to insure that the hard work of our forbearers was not in vain. If we don’t come together as one it is a certainty that divided as individuals we will surely be defeated.
Fraternally and united,