In September of 1969, black and minority fire fighters of all ranks from municipalities across the United States met in New York City for two days of discussion on the injustices that exist in the following categories: The recruitment of black youth into the fire service, firefighters-community relations with special emphasis on relations with the residents of neighborhoods inhabited by blacks, inter-group relations and practices in fire departments, and the need to improve fire prevention programs in the areas of greatest need, the inner city ghettos which are inhabited by our most disadvantaged, neglected and exploited citizens. The meeting was very productive and out of it was born the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters.
In October of 1970, the first convention of Black Professional Fire Fighters was held in Hartford, Connecticut. The constitution and the proposed structure of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters were adopted.
The IABPFF is not to be looked upon as a black separatist organization and its chapters are autonomous. Since many unions, locals and city governments failed to institute an affirmative action plan in the testing, recruiting and promotional process areas, it is therefore incumbent upon organized minority fire fighters to press for wide scale reforms. And in the course of dealing with these problems, we expect to reduce the number of fire deaths and property loss in our respective communities as well as to reduce the high rate of false fire alarms. We are convinced that the black community has an abundance of untapped talent to offer the fire service. Conversely, we expect to improve the economic development and employment opportunities for minorities.
As black fire fighters, it is our challenge to make the fire service more relevant to the needs and aspirations of minority citizens. The IABPFF will insist that black and minority fire department officials become full partners in the leadership and decision making arenas of the fire service.