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. It was called the Uniformed Firemen’s Association of New Jersey, and included charter locals Newark Local 71, Carteret Local 292, Perth Amboy Local 286, Woodbridge Local 290, and Rahway Local 295. A short time later, the union’s delegates saw fit to change the association’s name to Fire Fighters Association of New Jersey, and it operated as such for more than 30 years. Delegates to the 1996 convention, however, were concerned that there be no misunderstanding of the union’s calling and mission. They moved by resolution to change the name of the organization to the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey.
Today, the PFANJ often referred to as the IAFF. The IAFF exists on three planes: our parent IAFF headquartered in Washington, DC; the IAFF State Association, the PFANJ, headquartered in Trenton; and our local affiliate unions spread across New Jersey. These organizations are designed to allow information to flow back and forth for the benefit of all members.
Since 1929, the PFANJ has grown to upwards of seventy local unions of varying size and complexity, representing over half of New Jersey’s approximately 6,000 professional firefighters. In addition, the PFANJ represents more than 500 EMS professionals 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, regardless of any other affiliation.
Our local affiliates range from small fire districts, to full time round-the-clock suburban fire and rescue agencies, to the state’s largest and busiest urban fire departments.
WHAT WE'RE ALL ABOUT
The mission of the hard-working, dedicated elected officers and general membership of the PFANJ/IAFF has never altered, nor has its membership waivered in the performance of their duties to their union and communities. Our mission is:
- To organize professional firefighters, emergency medical service and related services members for the purpose of securing just compensation and fair, equitable settlement of grievances.
- To promote and maintain as healthy and safe a work environment as possible by employing modern technology, research and regulation.
- To establish just and reasonable working conditions and harmonious relations between members and their employers through the establishment and maintenance of statutory collective negotiations.
- To assure a high 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 that results in a brother- and sisterhood of professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel.
From the time that we organized through today, our union has made innumerable strides toward our goals. Our profession has been made safer, and our livelihoods and retirements more secure. Our unity has shown those in positions of influence that we are not to be trifled with. It has shown the public their standard of living has been preserved, even raised, by our bravery and sacrifice. It has allowed us to bring our messages to the forefront of the societal agenda.
The PFANJ continues to pursue a better quality of life for members through legislative initiatives such as presumptive heart and cancer laws, minimum staffing, stronger EMS legislation, and shoring up collective bargaining laws to ensure members’ hard-earned pensions upon retirement. The PFANJ educates the public regarding the dangers associated with being a member of the proud vocation of firefighters and EMS professionals.
To ensure our interests remain a priority, the PFANJ is represented on every committee and council that impacts our daily operations, including 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 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, and the Public Employee Relations Commission. State representatives continue to support local affiliate initiatives to provide the service that we deserve.
Through our great international union, we maintain an incomparable network of hard-working, experienced men and women from across the nation.
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, nor to become seriously injured or permanently disabled by virtue of our occupation. In a few instances, however, we must make the ultimate sacrifice. To save another, we may lose our own lives, a possibility that sets our occupation and membership apart from all others.
In numerous instances, however, our injury or death is the direct result of an unsafe workplace and an under-prepared workforce. As trade labor unionists, we strive to make our workplaces safer and our workforces better prepared to face the challenges of a potentially dangerous and debilitating occupation. Those who insist we work in an unsafe, under-prepared environment can and will be held accountable for their misdeeds against our membership, our families, and the citizens we are sworn to serve.
They say some things never change. Our profession requires us to get as close to a fire as possible to apply water until it’s extinguished. While the water part remains unchanged since the Stone Age, ever-evolving technology allows us to get deeper into fires and their hazardous environments for longer periods of time than ever before. Our jobs have therefore become simultaneously more efficient and more dangerous.
Also unchanged is the notion of cutting costs on the backs of firefighters and emergency medical personnel, relying on their good nature and dedication to get the job done no matter what. Our forbearers needed a strong union 88 years ago, and we need one today. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
You may ask yourself, “Why should I belong to a state union?” Brothers and Sisters, there has never been a more important time in our history than now for us to come together as one! We are being vilified on every front, portrayed as the cause for New Jersey’s terrible economy. We must come together as one union to speak in one voice, under one banner, to refute the fallacies 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 to support our initiatives and to sympathize with the dangers associated with our calling. We must stand shoulder-to-shoulder to ensure the hard work of our forbearers was not in vain.