The History of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters
Organized: Organized in Hartford, Connecticut on October 3RD, 1970.
Founding Organizations: The founding organizations are:
- Vulcan Society Inc. – New York, New York
- Phoenix Society Inc. – Hartford, Connecticut
- Vulcan Pioneers of New Jersey Inc. – Newark, New Jersey
- Vulcan Pioneers of Hudson County Inc. – Jersey City, New Jersey
- Valiants Inc. – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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.
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 the 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).
David J. Floyd
1970 – 1980
1980 – 1984
1984 – 1988
Romeo O. Spaulding
1988 – 1996
1996 – 1998
Theodore O. Holmes
1998 – 2002
Johnny J. Brewington
2002 – 2008
Joseph B. Muhammad
2008 – 2012
James F. Hill, II
2012 – 2016
Addington C. Stewart
2016 – Present