Washington, DC – Fire fighter union representatives from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States agreed to join forces this week in a powerful alliance that will enable the unions to combine their resources to fight for better wages, benefits, pensions and health and safety regulations to protect their members, and for standards, staffing, training, equipment and resources to enable fire fighters to adequately protect their communities.

The unions – the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), representing U.S. and Canadian professional fire fighters and emergency medical services workers; the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) of the U.K.; the United Firefighters Union of Australia (UFUA); and the New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union (NZPFU) – met between 25 and 27 July 2006 in Hawaii and issued the following statement:

“Fire Fighters and emergency service workers worldwide protect their communities on an everyday basis, at all levels. Recent horrific international events showed that all of our communities need their emergency responders to be prepared not only for everyday emergencies, but also against increased threats from global terrorism, natural and other disasters.

“The information shared at this historic meeting made clear that none of the governments of the nations involved are providing adequate resources to protect their fire fighters and the citizens they serve.

“Each union reported national deficiencies in the resources required to give fire fighters the tools, training and personnel they need to respond safely and effectively to fires and other emergencies in order to protect their citizens appropriately in the event of a terror attack or natural disaster.

“The unions also found many similarities in the threats faced by their members from their governments, including cost cutting, risk management and privatization efforts that threaten both fire fighter safety and community protection worldwide.

“Knowing the common threats to our members’ livelihood and the failures of our respective governments in providing the standards and resources needed to protect the health and safety of fire fighters and citizens, it was agreed to establish a global partnership. Through this partnership, we commit our organizations to pursue a formal and strategic relationship that will strengthen our abilities to fight back against government threats and trends that put our members at risk.

“Cooperation among workers, whether at the national, state or municipal level, is as necessary for firefighting industry unions as it is in other sectors. We understand that our employers increasingly communicate and strategize on a regional and global basis against our members. We now must fight back with a more powerful alliance to ensure that global standards are improved everywhere, rather than allowing small-minded governments to bring the standards down for fire and other emergency related response services world-wide.

We will be looking to invite other like-minded fire fighter unions to join this partnership.”

For a copy of the full official “Meeting Statement” signed by all of the attending unions, download from our website here.

The International Association of Fire Fighters, headquartered in Washington, DC, and Ottawa, ON, represents more than 275,000 full-time professional fire fighters, EMTs and paramedics who provide emergency response to 80 percent of the population in the United States and Canada. More information is available at www.iaff.org or contact Bill Glanz at 202-824-1566 bglanz@iaff.org.

The Fire Brigades Union is the sole trade union which negotiates on behalf of emergency firefighters control staff, retained and whole time firefighters and officers in the UK. For additional information contact Duncan Milligan at +44 0208 5411765. More information is available at www.fbu.org.uk.

The United Firefighters Union of Australia represents the 14,000 professional firefighters providing fire and rescue services across the country. For more information see www.ufua.asn.au or contact Peter Marshall at +61419127004

The New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union (NZPFU) has a membership of more than 1700 professional firefighters. The union represents New Zealand firefighters in all matters impacting on firefighters. For additional information contact Michael McEnaney at +6421440832 or visit our Contact Us page.

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