ORGANIZED: Organized in Hartford, Connecticut, October 3, 1970.

FOUNDING ORGANIZATIONS:Vulcan Society Inc., New York, N.Y., Phoenix Society Inc., Hartford, Connecticut, Vulcan Pioneers of New Jersey Inc., Newark, N.J., Vulcan Pioneers of Hudson County Inc., Jersey City, N.J., Valiants Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS:The 2008 Membership of the l.A.B.P.F.F. is comprised of 90 Chapters and represents 5100 fire service personnel and a 200 Lifetime Members.

NOTE: In September of 1969, black 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. That 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 was adopted. To address the lack of substantial access into the Fire Service and upward mobility opportunities, it became therefore incumbent upon our membership 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 and society as whole. 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 I.A.B.P.F.F. will ensure that black and minority fire department officials become full partners in the leadership and decision-making arenas of the fire service.

PREAMBLE: Whereas we, Black Fire Fighters, aware of the increasing complexity of our problems and those of our Brothers and Sisters within the community, feel called upon to form an organization for the purpose of studying and solving such problems; in order to take our place in the vanguard of civilization, we hereby form ourselves into an organization for the purpose of cultivating and maintaining professional competence among fire fighters, and establishment of unity, also keeping alive the interest among retired members for the avowed purpose of improving the social status of our RACE, and increasing professional efficiency.

PURPOSE & AIMS:To create a liaison between our Black Brothers and Sisters throughout the globe, to collect and evaluate data on all deleterious conditions incumbent in all areas where minorities exist, and to compile information concerning the injustices that exist in the application of working conditions in the Fire Service, and implement action to correct them. To promote interracial progress throughout the Fire Service, and to see that competent Blacks are recruited and employed as fire fighters, where ever they reside, and to aid in motivating our Black Brothers and Sisters to seek advancement to elevated ranks throughout the Fire Service.

MEMBERSHIP: The members of the INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK PROFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTERS shall comprise those who are paid professional fire fighters in a Black Fire Fighting Organization, and that organization is a member of the INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK PROFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTERS. This organization may admit to membership Black professional fire fighting individuals where no local association within the International exists. In addition to the above described membership, the following classes of non-voting memberships shall be established: A) students, B) corporate, C) associate, D) honorary. (August 1998) Lifetime Members. A member in good standing in their local chapter who retires from active duty (fire service) August 1998) Reference information on membership from: INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK PROFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTERS CONSTITUTION, BY-LAWS AND POLICIES ORGANIZED OCTOBER 2, 1970 IN THE CITY OF HARTFORD, CONN. AS UPDATED FEBRUARY 1988 AS AMENDED, SEPTEMBER 1, 1988 THEODORE O. HOLMES, PRESIDENT ARTICLE IV MEMBERSHIP Section 1. The Membership of the “INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK PROFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTERS” shall comprise those who are paid fire service professionals in a bona fide Black Fire Fighting organization, and that organization is a member of the “INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK PROFESSIONAL FIRE FIGHTERS”. Section 2. This organization may admit to membership, individual fire service professionals wherein no local association exists. Section 3. In addition to the above described membership in sections 1 & 2, the following classes of non-voting memberships shall be established: A) students, B) corporate, C) associate, D) honorary. (August 1998) Section 4. Good Standing. Good Standing shall be defined as being current in all dues, and/or assessments, and notunder suspension for any infraction of the Constitution and by-laws of the IABPFF. (August 1998) Section 5. All organizations and individual members in good standing shall be permitted to attend all appropriate meetings, vote and participate in the business matter concerning the IABPFF. (August 1998) Section 6. Lifetime Members. A member in good standing in their local chapter who retires from active duty (fire service) shall pay a one-time membership fee of $100.00 to the IABPFF. No other dues shall be levied. (August 1998) Section 7. Monies collected by the local chapter shall be forwarded to the IABPFF with the annual membership roster. A separate roster listing Lifetime Members shall be forwarded also. The IABPFF shall keep a separate file of lifetime Members. (August 1998) 


IABPFF Logo History

David James Floyd, the first president of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, designed the IABPFF Logo.  The following is his explanation of the design.

COLORS  · Red, black and green were the colors used by Marcus Garvey’s black pride or African movement of the 1930’s.  The “Red” is for our blood, the “Black” is for the race, and the “Green” is for hope.

HAND  · The hand was selected because of the number five (5).  The five fingers represent the five founding organizations of the International, which were Vulcan Society, Inc, New York, NY; Phoenix Society Inc., Hartford, Connecticut; Vulcan Pioneers of New Jersey Inc., Newark, NJ; Vulcan Pioneers of Hudson County Inc., Jersey City, NJ; and Valiants Inc., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

CLENCHED FIST · Symbolized strength and power when the fingers (organizations) came together.

OUTLINE OF FINGERS · It was strongly felt by the designer that the Almighty had a guiding hand in bringing black fire fighters together from across the nation.  The outline of the fingers was shaped to form the Arabic word “Allah” which means “GOD”.

FLAME · Represents the heat that is necessary to take something old (five groups), and forge them into something new (the International).


 Trevor K. Hansford and Artest Harttsfield are covered in this news piece on the true history of the ethnic firefighter in Los Angeles.   
Hose Company #8 - 1876

On May 19, 1876, Indianapolis Fire Chief W. O. Sherwood appointed the first four African Americans to the Indianapolis Fire Department.

Photo: Indianapolis Fire Department

  • The oldest documents identifying government sanctioned African American firefighters were found in New Orleans, Louisiana. A devastating fire in July 1817 led the governing body to organize its people to avoid another conflagration. All draymen and their equipment as well as individual free men of color and slaves were recruited.
  • The first woman firefighter was an African American.  Molly Williams worked along side the men of the Oceanus Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 of New York City in 1818.
  • Patrick H. Raymond was appointed on January 5, 1871 as the first African American Fire Chief in the United States (Cambridge, MA).
  • The International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters was organized in Hartford, CT in 1970.
  • Robert O. Lowery was=2 0the first African American Fire Commissioner of a major U.S. city.  He was the Fire Department of New York’s 21st Fire Commissioner, serving from January 1, 1966 until September 29, 1973.
  • Toni McIntosh of the Pittsburgh (PA) Bureau of Fire was the first African-American woman to become a career firefighter in June of 1976.
  • The first African American United States Fire Administrator, Carrye B. Brown, was appointed in 1994.
  • The first African American woman appointed as Fire Chief for a career fire department was Chief Rosemary Cloud with the East Point (GA) Fire Department in 2002.

Click the links below to get more information on black Firefighter history.

African American Firefighters Historical Society