Statement: IAFC Board of Directors

Human Dignity and the Fire and Emergency Service

Dallas, Texas -- The IAFC Board of Directors today issued the following statement from its annual meeting:

Like the entire fire service, the membership of the IAFC faces challenges as we continue to provide leadership to a fire and emergency service that is ever evolving in an environment where technology and the demographic composition of our society and workforces are changing at unparalleled rates. Unfortunately, we have recently seen examples of such challenges in some local jurisdictions, some higher-profile than others.

Our greatest resources for meeting the challenges of change are the members of the IAFC and their respective agencies who respond daily in operational and support roles to carry out their organizations’ missions in taking care of the public and each other.

As stated in the IAFC Human Dignity statement adopted in 2013:

“As an organization, we must take positive steps to ensure human dignity by avoiding any remaining vestiges of discrimination or unequal treatment including, but not limited to, a basis on race, color, spirituality, gender, age, national origin, ancestry, socio-economic backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, ethnicity, marital status or any legally protected characteristic.

Allowing such discrimination or unequal treatment, whether active or passive, breaks down our abilities to work together in delivering service to the communities we serve.

While certainly not a singular event, within the past month one of our members, a fire chief, was attacked in social media by several anonymous, faceless and cowardly individuals using racial slurs and despicable language that has no place in the public domain. The subject of the online attack stated he was not concerned about himself when these racist rants were posted about him. His concern is for his department and the larger fire and emergency service.

The IAFC will continue to lead by example to ensure an equal opportunity and fair treatment for all. When warranted, the IAFC will call out and draw attention to attacks on our members who are victims of this type of hatred. Further, the IAFC strongly recommends that all fire and emergency service organizations and agencies develop written policies and have procedures in place to support these position recommendations.

Included in these policies should be a statement reinforcing a zero-tolerance posture for acts of deliberate or intentional discrimination and clear understanding of consequences.

It is important for leaders to maintain a fire and emergency service where each of us is morally committed to ensuring equality of opportunity and inclusivity for every individual.

About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more
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