I am aware of your organization’s greatest contribution in the field of fire prevention and fire protection. The work of your association in behalf of the members of the fire service of the Nation has been outstanding. The improvements that have been made for the members of the fire service are the direct result of the work of your association.
The President of the United States is probably more familiar with our organization than many attending this conference, and it is for that reason I mention that our organization is unique as a labor organization, in that strikes are not permitted. You, and every other citizen, have been reading about strikes. We all deplore the necessity for strikes. You have never read where members of the International Association of Fire Fighters were on strike and I am sure you never will. [Applause.]
Back in 1936 our association expelled a local in Canada merely because the members took a vote on whether or not to strike.
The financial conditions of many municipalities and the arbitrary attitude of city officials in some cities have been the cause for some strikes among some public employees. Our members have had the same conditions to contend with and yet, out of loyalty to the public, they stayed on the job and worked long hours at low wages until changes took place in the city administration, or until financial conditions improved.
A few years ago, in a city in Texas, the city officials issued an ultimatum to all members of the fire department stating that they would be fired if they refused to withdraw from our organization. Our association withdrew the charter issued to the members rather than permit the city to remove the fire protection to which the citizens were entitled. I have often wondered who would be to blame if the city had dismissed every member of the fire department and left the citizens to the mercy of any fire that might occur.
Congress today is considering legislation which will regulate certain activities of labor organizations. No matter what action Congress may take, our members will never strike. Our association does not have to worry about any action Congress may take, as our members will not strike. Our organization activities have been above reproach. Our association has never had to employ organizers to go out among the members of the different fire departments to organize them into our association. The 14 vice presidents who are all members of fire departments, as well as the president and secretary-treasurer, act as our representatives to assist the city officials and members of the fire departments in solving the fire service problems of any city. The growth of the organization has been wholly the result of a desire on the part of the members of the fire service to unite their efforts in one organization representative of the fire service. Our organization has met that need as 65,000 members can testify.
The deliberation of this Conference can well point to the manner in which the United States Government, the State governments and all in the field of fire prevention and fire protection can best assist in providing an improved plan of fire prevention. The loss of life due to fire and the