George A. Richardson, a local member of 18, who was present at the IAFF Foundation, served for 36 years as treasurer of the IAFF in Washington D.C and remains the longest-serving senior officer of the IAFF. We must not forget that Canadian firefighters have helped make this strong organization what it is today. During the long collaboration with IAFF, Local 18 has become a leading company in the areas of collective bargaining, workplace safety and safety improvement, training initiatives, representation of workers` compensation interests, staffing and response times to more than 70,000 annual emergency calls. But most of the time, Local 18 is committed to those dedicated to serving the public — the 775 men and women who make up the 18 local fire brigades. Our local full service union is affiliated with the Canadian Labour Congress, the BC Federation of Labour, the Vancouver and District Labour Council and the BC Professional Fire Fighters` Association and is a daily advocate on issues affecting its members. Our membership in the union has evolved over time and now more accurately reflects the diversity of the city, including women and men from different cultures and backgrounds. This has made our Union stronger and more responsive to the Community we serve. While the faces of our membership have changed, our knowledge of our traditions and culture and our strong desire to protect our city have remained the same. Since the fire of 1886 that destroyed the city, Vancouver has become one of the most complex urban skyscrapers on our continent, encompassing firefighters South Vancouver, Point Grey and University Endowment Lands over the past century. The 18 local firefighters have protected Vancouvers 44 square miles during its many years of growth and will continue to ensure its strong professional presence as Vancouver grows into this new millennium. Local 18 has helped establish a public CPR training program and members support many rewarding charities through their Vancouver Firefighters` Charitable Society.
Eighteen local members designed and produced the Hall of Flame Fire Fighters Charity Calendar, which is now being released for the 31st year of their publication. The proceeds from calendar sales are responsible for obtaining more than 1,000,000,000 $US for various non-profit organizations such as the CKNW Orphan`s Fund, BC Children`s Hospital, BC Professional Fire Fighters` Burn Fund and more. In our proud history, Local 18 has partnered with IAFF to set public safety standards across North America by participating in legislative arenas, government and provincial health and safety policies and standards, including the National Fire Protection Association. Fire safety and fire awareness save lives and 18 local members strongly support the safety standards of the public and all professional firefighters. More recently, Local 18 has been at the forefront of promoting and implementing legislation on the presumption of cancer and the usefulness of public safety officials. The Vancouver Fire Department first formed a union in 1911, at a time when firefighters were working under a continuous response system. This meant a 24-hour day with three hours off for meals and only one day off in seven. They agreed to end this first attempt at organization soon after, in exchange for a much-needed wage increase. Five years later, in 1916, Vancouver was the eighteenth fire brigade organized in North America, obtaining a charter from the American Ploughing Federation and becoming Canada`s first firefighter association.