George A. Richardson, a local member of 18, who was present at the IAFF Foundation, served for 36 years as treasurer of the IAFF in Washington D.C and remains the longest-serving senior officer of the IAFF. We must not forget that Canadian firefighters have helped make this strong organization what it is today. During the long collaboration with IAFF, Local 18 has become a leading company in the areas of collective bargaining, workplace safety and safety improvement, training initiatives, representation of workers` compensation interests, staffing and response times to more than 70,000 annual emergency calls. Our membership in the union has evolved over time and now more accurately reflects the diversity of the city, including women and men from different cultures and backgrounds. This has made our Union stronger and more responsive to the Community we serve. While the faces of our membership have changed, our knowledge of our traditions and culture and our strong desire to protect our city have remained the same. The Vancouver Fire Department first formed a union in 1911, at a time when firefighters were working under a continuous response system. This meant a 24-hour day with three hours off for meals and only one day off in seven. They agreed to end this first attempt at organization soon after, in exchange for a much-needed wage increase.
Five years later, in 1916, Vancouver was the eighteenth fire brigade organized in North America, obtaining a charter from the American Ploughing Federation and becoming Canada`s first firefighter association. After the end of a long strike bargain in 1917, the new union was able to secure a day off with the savings achieved through the advent of full motorization and the sale of its steamers and horses. On February 28, 1918, vancouver firefighters were the only Canadians among a number of unionized firefighters from across the continent to create the International Association of Fire Fighters. Local 18 and IAFF are proud of their long connection across the continent and the international border. Local 18 has helped establish a public CPR training program and members support many rewarding charities through their Vancouver Firefighters` Charitable Society.