PFFPNC History

Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics of North Carolina

Bits and Pieces of History

Fire Fighters Set Up State Organization In N. C.

The North Carolina FederationistNovember, 1940

By:  K. J. Smith, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of labor Raleigh District

On October 29, 1940, delegates from all organized fire departments inNorth Carolina met in High Point to install charter, and elect officers for their new organization, “The North Carolina Fire Fighters Association.”

The convention was called to order at 10 A. M. by T. G. Womack, President, High Point Fire Fighters Association, who in turn introduced Brother Hugh Kilgore, Vice President, International Association of Fire Fighters, and presented him with the gavel.  Brother Kilgore presided over the convention until the officers were elected.  The first speaker on the program was the Honorable Arthur Kirkman, Mayor, High Point.  Mayor Kirkman delivered a short address of welcome.  Speakers following the Mayor:  George J. Richardson, Secretary-Treasurer, I. A. of F. F.; Brother A. E. Brown, A. F. of L. organizer, and Brother George Kendall, A. F. of L. representative from Charlotte, all of whom delivered most inspiring talks.

Most outstanding at this convention was the fact that everyone attending seemed to be in a serious mood, there for the purpose of transacting such business as necessary to bring about a closer fellowship, and understanding among all firemen in North Carolina, that we, by our collective action may work to the same end, and not at cross purposes.  By our action at this convention I think that everyone is agreed that we have marked the beginning of a new era for firemen in this state.  I am proud of the way the delegates conducted themselves.  With this spirit prevailing, we cannot fail, we shall go forward.

The convention adopted a resolution calling for a statewide civil service law covering all departments in cities having a population of 30,000 or more.  With this in mind I urge the State Federation to lend whatever assistance possible in our behalf at this session of the legislature.

Internal IAFF Memo to Draw Up State Charter

IAFF Historical Document – October 15, 1940

Mr. Clark:

            Following is a list of Cities to be placed on a charter for “The North Carolina Fire Fighters Association.”

  1. Local No. 548, Raleigh
  2. Local No. 638, Wilmington
  3. Local No. 660, Charlotte
  4. Local No. 668, Durham
  5. Local No. 673, High Point

Please send the charter to Mr. K.J. Smith, Sec’y-Treas., Local No. 548, 2511Stafford Avenue, Raleigh, NC.

                                                            Fraternally yours,

                                                            George G. Richardson


Fire Fighters’ Local Unions Growing Through State

The North Carolina FederationistNovember 1940

By:  K. J. Smith, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of Labor Raleigh District

Another Local Union of Fire Fighters has been added to our roster since the last issue of THE FEDERATIONIST.  The new Local is at High Point, and signed up 100 percent strong, bringing the number of Local Unions of Fire Fighters in the state to five – Wilmington, Raleigh, Durham, High Point and Charlotte.  We hope soon to double the number, as we are now working onAsheville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Salisbury-Spencer and Gastonia.  With these added to the five strong Locals already formed, the firemen of this state would be in splendid position to exert strong influence for every member of all the departments in the state.

Firemen in North Carolina have for many years failed to realize that they are free to organize and work together with other labor forces and influences in obtaining remedial legislation and improving their lot in life.  As tax-paying citizens and men who protect the property and lives of all the citizens of our cities, firemen have every right under the constitution to band themselves together for mutual protection and advancement.  The past year has demonstrated the fact that the fire fighters have at last been aroused to a realization of the fact that they are free to organize, and the further fact that only through organization will they ever be enabled to come into their own.

Officials of the cities wherein we have organized, chiefs and assistant chiefs of the departments have cooperated with us in splendid manner.  We are highly appreciative of this attitude on the part of our officials, both city and department officials.

I wish to pay especial tribute to Brother A. E. Brown, to whom goes the credit for the High Point Local.  Brother Brown wired me on September 30, and requested that I come to High Point and assist him in signing up this new organization, of which I was very glad to do.  We spent the day working with these boys, and after overcoming some few handicaps was successful as stated above, in signing up a 100 per cent organization.  However, I wish to say that due to Brother Brown’s untiring efforts prior to this time is really what made this new Local possible.

Fire Fighters Meet Many Obstacles

The North Carolina FederationistMarch 1941

By:  K. J. Smith, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of Labor Raleigh District

Due to the activities of city officials who want to keep members of fire departments in abject slaver, insofar as freedom of thought is concerned, and to the interference of buttinskies from the fire insurance companies, the Civil Service Bill for Policemen and Firemen was given the kiss of death in the committee on Counties, Cities and Towns during the last week in February.  Other influences entered into the situation in varying degrees and helped to slaughter the bill.

Included among these other influences are some members of the fire departments and police departments who are known as ward-healers in politics and boot-lickers in their respective departments.  Presentation of the bill has served one good purpose, however, in that it has brought out into the open our enemies both in official camps and in our respective police and fire departments in the State.  We now know who constitute the opposition to the policemen and firemen having the protection that a state-wide civil service bill would give them.

We are not discouraged; although we are somewhat disappointed in finding that some people who had claimed to be our friends are nothing more than tools of insurance companies and city officials.  We also have learned how far-reaching the influence of such men as some who occupy high positions in government and in insurance companies can be exerted.

Fire Fighters of Raleigh deeply resent statements made by Alexander Webb, president of the North Carolina Home Insurance Company, who appeared before the committee and brazenly asserted that there is not a man in the Raleigh Fire Department qualified to become chief.  The committee had no way of knowing and officers of the Fire Fighters Union had no authority to ask questions to bring out the fact that Mr. Webb’s grouch against the fire fighters was purely a personal matter and dated back to the time when his pet friend, Mr. Holland, was fired as chief of the department.

In some of the cities of the State members of the fire departments, so the officials were informed, were induced either by threat or cajolery into signing papers to the effect that such departments did not want the Civil Service Bill.  This action on the part of some members of departments added greatly to the weight of opposition.

Fire Fighters throughout the State, however, have expressed a determination to look upon this as only the first step in their program, and that two years hence the fire fighters will be in much better position to obtain needed legislation and will push their program to the limit.

I wish to pay my respects to one city manager in the State, Mr. Eddie Knox, of High Point.  Mr. Knox opposed the bill before the committee, but made it plain that his opposition was due entirely to the fact that he considered the bill as being more than a Civil Service Bill and contained features that, in his experience as a city official, would not be good either for the fire fighters or the city.  He stated that he was on record in numerous instances of being in favor both of the organization of fire fighters into their local unions when they so desire, and that he placed nothing in the way of the members of the High Point departments in the organization of their local union.  He favors, he said, a good Civil Service Bill for policemen and firemen and declared that members of such departments needed the protection of a Civil Service Bill and the security that it provided for them.

President C. A. Fink, of the State Federation of Labor, rendered all the assistance that he could in our efforts and gave it as a note of encouragement to us that the opposition to our Civil Service Bill was the same kind of opposition that he was meeting on all measured offered for the protection or benefit of those who work.

I hope to visit all of our local unions throughout the State just as rapidly as I can and, in the meantime, I urge every member to continue in the good work of organizing the firemen of this State.  The stronger our union, the greater will grow our opportunity to command the strength of the legislature to procure such legislation as our membership desires.

Winston-Salem Joins With Firefighters Union

The North Carolina FederationistApril-May 1941

By:  K. J. Smith, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of Labor Raleigh District

         On March 11, a charter was installed for the Winston-Salem Fire Department, bringing the total of organized departments in this state to six.  We are proud of these boys, and are indeed glad to welcome them into our ranks.  Brother Hugh Kilgore, from Atlanta, Ga., was there for the installation along with Brother A. E. Brown of Durham, Brother J. J. Thomas and several firemen from Charlotte, Brother Brown from High Point, myself and several others.  This was a grand occasion; the spirit displayed at this meeting would swell the pride in any fireman’s heart.  The State Council of Firefighters stands ready to assist these boys at any time, and I am confident that labor in Winston-Salem, along with the State Federation feels likewise.

         The addition of this new local brings more power, influence, and prestige to our association.  May other departments in North Carolina see fit to join with us and make our burden lighter; to help carry our program forward.  Our problems are all basically the same, why not all catch the same train and make the going easier.

Fire Fighters Appreciate Charlotte’s Welcome

The North Carolina FederationistSeptember 1941

By:  K. J. Smith, Vice President North Carolina

      State Federation of Labor Raleigh District

The Second Annual Convention of the North Carolina Fire Fighters Association was held in Charlotte August 9 and 10.  Addresses of welcome were delivered by the city manager, Mr. Armstrong, city councilman, Mr. Claude Albea, Brother Jack Moore of the Central Labor Union, and Brother Stough Campbell, ex-vice president of the Stated Federation of Labor, from Charlotte District.  In attendance at this convention along with the delegates was our International president, Mr. Fred W. Bear of Washington D. C., who made a very inspiring speech.  Never in the history of paid fire departments, have the firemen of North Carolina received a more hardy and genuine welcome than we received inCharlotte.  The firemen of Charlotte are to be congratulated on the banquet and entertainment, which added greatly to the prestige of our association.  Labor leaders from all over the country along with people such as Dr. Ralph McDonald, Dr. Spencer Miller, and other equally prominent people attended our banquet with us.  We are proud of recognition gained right there in Charlotte.

We did not adopt any definite legislative program at this time, as we meet again before the legislature.  It was agreed however, that we would seek legislation for a 72-hour work week at the next session of the general assembly, and no doubt at our next convention we will have something to add to this in the way of legislation.

Labor Movement in Raleigh Holds Own

The North Carolina FederationistNovember 1941

By:  K. J. Smith, Vice President North Carolina

      State Federation of Labor Raleigh District

For the information of all my Fire Fighter friends in this state, I would like to inform you that since our Charlotte convention I have changed jobs.  I am no longer connected with the Fire Department.  I am with the Post Office.  I still carry my membership with the Fire Fighters Local here, and still head the State Association of Fire Fighters.  I will continue in the office until such time as you may see fit to remove, or replace me.  As long as I remain in this office I will serve you to the very best of my ability.  I intend to call a meeting of the executive board soon in order that we may have a very clear understanding should you choose to continue me in office.  To all of you I wish the most successful year ever.

Post Office Clerks Do Not Realize

The Debt To Labor Movement

The North Carolina FederationistJune 1942

By:  K. J. Smith, Vice President North Carolina

      State Federation of Labor Raleigh District

In this article I should like to mention for the benefit of the readers of The Federationist and the North Carolina Fire Fighters that the North Carolina Fire Fighters Association will hold it annual convention in Wilmington on July 2 and 3.  Although I am now with the Postal Clerks, working in the Raleigh Post Office I still have the interest of the Fire Fighters at heart, having served with them for so long.  Often our pathway was not so smooth.  It is hoped that the Convention will be of much value to the membership of the Fire Fighters Association.  I desire to extend to President C. A. Fink and others of the Executive Board a hearty invitation to attend this convention, and to all other members of Organized Labor in North Carolina who will come.


Raleigh Groups Entertain Two Labor Conventions

The North Carolina FederationistAugust-September 1954

By:  J. E. Tyson, Vice President North Carolina

State Federation of Labor Raleigh District

Raleigh Labor groups very successfully entertained two Labor conventions this summer:  Raleigh Typographical Union was host to the Virginia-Carolinas Typographical Conference and the Raleigh Firefighters Association was host to the N. C. State Firefighters Convention.

Both conventions brought into Raleigh some of the finest citizens of North Carolina.  That is one thing that Labor possibly does not capitalize on as it should. Each convention was full of splendid personalities with the high caliber leadership that is needed to keep Labor on the march in this State.  The conventions were a magnificent demonstration of what is to be found throughout the North Carolina Labor Movement.

Local 1284, Wilmington, NC

The International Fire Fighter, December, 1957

By: Clayton D. Burton, President

            Local No. 1284 of Wilmington NC became affiliated with the International Association of Fire Fighters on September 27, 1957.

            Vice President E.C. Wilcox of the Twelfth District of the International Association presented the charter to C.D. Burton, the first president of our Local. Then Vice President Burton initiated all the members.

            The officers installed were: C.D Burton, President; M.T. Gerock and J.W.Casteen, Vice Presidents; V.L. Smith, Secretary-Treasurer; J.C. Bryans and B.S.Wardenfelt, Recording Secretary; L.H. Wolfe, L.R. Frost and M.A. Powell, Trustees: R.D. Dyches and H.L. Sandlin Guards: Leroy Flowers and B.C. Keen, Guides: M.C. Casteen and Earl Williams, Representatives to the Central Labor Union, with W.B. Richardson and M.H. Hilburn as alternates; and R.D. Shipp and A.C. Herring, Chaplins.

         The Guests who attended the meeting were: Secretary-Treasurer W.H. Copley of the North Carolina State Fire Fighters; President W.M. Barbee of theNorth Carolina State AFL-CIO; and President George Bumby of the Wilmington Central Labor Union.