The San Francisco Black Firefighters Association (SFBFA) was founded 1972 and is a chapter of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters (IABPFF) which has 121 chapters and over 8000 members. The SFBFA was formed to address issues concerned African Americans and other minority members of the San Francisco Fire Department.
Our concern and issues include: hiring, promotions, discrimination, racism, affirmative action, training, and education. Since our inception, the SFBFA has been able to bring about a tremendous change within the San Francisco Fire Department. One aspect of our struggle was to challenge the city and county of San Francisco, specifically the San Francisco Fire department to create a non-hostile and non-threatening work environment. In 1988 as a result of our struggle the 9th circuit federal Courts decreed a Consent Decree on the San Francisco Fire Department which mandated the Department “clean up its act.” In retrospect the ranks of the department have been integrated and the racial makeup of the fire department more adequately reflects the diversity of San Francisco.
The International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters is a fraternal organization and not a labor organization within the fire service—composed of Black and minority fire service professionals. The idea of forming an international organization of Black firefighters was first advanced by Messrs. Vincent Julius and John Ruffins, both members of the Vulcan Society of New York, in 1960. It took nine years before a national effort could be mounted, which occurred only after the 1968 civil disturbances.
In September of 1969, Black and minority fire fighters of all ranks from municipalities across the United States met in New York City for two days of discussion on the injustices that exist in the following categories: The recruitment of Black Youth in the fire service, firefighters’ community relations and practices in fire departments, and the need to improve fire prevention programs in the areas of greatest need, the inner city ghettos which are inhabited by our most disadvantaged, neglected and exploited citizens. The meeting was very productive and out of it was born the IABPFF.
In October of 1970, the first convention of Black Professional Fire Fighters was held in Hartford, Connecticut. The constitution and the proposed structure of the International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters was adopted at this meeting. Since then the IABPFF has grown forming regions and chapter. You’ll find all of the chapters of the southwest region on our links page.
We are convinced that the African American and other minority communities have an abundance of untapped talent to offer the fire service. Conversely, we expect to improve the economic development and employment opportunities for minorities.