IAFC at 140: The Ladder the IAFC Built

The task for the IAFC now is the same as it has been since its inception 140 years ago: share knowledge gained in the service of today to help face the challenges of tomorrow.

During our first decade, no real fire-protection literature existed. So in 1886, we developed the Fireman's Handy Book—the first operational training manual for hook and ladder, hose, and chemical and engine companies—and distributed it to the community free of charge, thanks to the financial support of a private corporation.

By laying out standards for firefighters, validity was given to the fire service. One IAFC member in 1889 said, "Only since this association organized have cities begun to treat the fire service as a business ... Now it's time to find out how we can improve the selection and education of firemen."

In 1932, the IAFC wrote the first edition of the Fire Chief's Handbook, but due to the depression didn't have the funds to publish it. Committed to ensuring the information got out to the community, the IAFC put principle before profit and relinquished the work to a private publisher. The handbook is credited with being the first textbook ever issued for the fire service.

In the 1950s, the IAFC created the International Fire Administration Institute to support officer development, which led to the creation of a college-level scholarship. Twenty years later, in 1974, the IAFC Foundation was formed to make access to officer-development programs easier and more affordable.

The IAFC has always made education and standards a lead focus of the industry, be it through providing literature or access to college-level training. With the ever-changing political landscape and the growing crunch on budgets, the IAFC is dedicated now more than ever to continue this longtime tradition well into and beyond the next 140 years.

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