April 7, 2017
By Stephanie West
New York, NY - Firefighters Association (UFA) kicked off its 100-year anniversary by laying a wreath to honor all firefighters and fire officers who have died in the line of duty since the union’s inception. Over the last 100 years, more than 1,100 firefighters and fire officers have lost their lives while serving the city.!-
“It’s an honor to be serving as the President of the UFA on its 100thAnniversary. Just as Alfred Guinness was defending the rights of firefighters 100 years ago, our current executive board continues to go above and beyond in ensuring firefighters are protected and have the proper compensation, health and safety benefits for the members and their families,” said UFA President James Slevin.
The UFA was officially incorporated on April 4, 1917.
UFA membership will be celebrating the centennial and honoring its membership past, present and future all year long. This September, the UFA will host a centennial gala and throughout the year will hold events and be using #UFA100 to document and share moments via social media.
"On behalf of the NYC labor movement, we thank the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York for 100 years of service to the people of New York City," said Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO. "We honor your dedication and commitment, and we are forever indebted to the courage and bravery of the fallen men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Today and every day, working New Yorkers thank you for all you do."
The New York City Fire Department was created in 1865 and for many years, numerous efforts were made by employees to organize into benevolent or fraternal associations. The inherent danger of the job, coupled with poor working conditions, inadequate wages, no discernible benefits or legal protections for firefighters, led to the formation in 1917 of the Uniformed Firemen's Association. Firefighter Albert E. Guinness formed the Uniformed Firemen's Association of the FDNY, and was the union’s first president.
Since then, members have continued to see their salaries increase, manageable work hours implemented, rewarding pension plans, paid holidays and overtime pay all incorporated through the UFA. In 1968, the union name changed from the "Uniformed Firemen's Association" to the "Uniformed Firefighters Association". In 1976, the UFA established a Security Benefit Fund for retired members. In 1983, the UFA secured law for firefighters laid off in 1975 and later rehired the right to buy back time for pension credit. This affected about 950 firefighters.
In 2001, when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, the UFA - in partnership with the International Association of Firefighters - established the 9-11 Fund, and dispensed millions to families in need. Due to the devastating 9-11 attacks on our nation, numerous New York City Firefighters have been getting sick and dying in high numbers due to cancers and other diseases caused by breathing the toxic air at the World Trade Center. More than 15 years after the tragic event, 126 firefighters and fire officers have passed away due to 9-11-related illnesses.
Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services said, “One hundred years ago, firefighters received inadequate wages; they were overworked and routinely pushed beyond the limit. But the UFA founders formed an alliance that could not be broken and safeguarded rights for the firefighters who risk their lives every day, protecting us New Yorkers. Because of the UFA’s work, FDNY firefighters can work knowing that they and their families will be protected. Congratulations to President Jim Slevin and all UFA members on an epic 100 years.”