York Professional Fire Fighters Assn.
Local No. 627, International Association of Fire Fighters

HISTORY OF LOCAL 627

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Realizing the need of fraternalism and fellowship among the drivers of the various fire companies, the drivers of the City Fire Department met and decided to form what was then known as the Fire Drivers Association of the City of York, Pa. on the night of May 16, 1929. Officers elected at this meeting were William Eppley, President, Clair Kessler, 1st Vice President, Robert Sneeling, 2nd Vice President, LeRoy Buckingham, 3rd Vice President, Arthur Little, Treasurer, Harry Miller, Secretary, John Shepp, D.E. Quickel, Earl McNamara, Trustees.

Our meetings were continued each month and were well attended, the spirit of the men was well worth the efforts put forth. Things were gradually assuming form, such as sick benefits and death benefits, and we were more proud of our strides of progress.

At this time we were getting interested in our future welfare and decided to see what could be done about a pension. We knew we had to work hard as at that time quite a few of our brothers were well up in years and soon would have to give up as far as driving was concerned.

We were encouraged from time to time by those who were in authority and were building our hopes probably too high, which we were soon to learn was true. The spirit seemed to leave the men and the organization seemed to lag. Knowing the real reason was something at that time was beyond our control, we decided to try a different angle which we did do years later, that was our affiliation with the International Association of Fire Fighters.

On May 11, 1939, 32 drivers, formerly members of the York Fire Drivers Association became members of the new organization known as York City Paid Firemen's Relief and Pension Fund Association, Local No. 627 IAFF. Officers were installed and a charter presented at a meeting held in the council chambers at City Hall. Officers installed were Fred Wolf, President, Richard Stonesifer, 1st Vice President, Harvey Treadway, 2nd Vice President, Chester Hartman, Recording Secretary, D.E. Quickel, Financial Secretary, Arthur Little, Treasurer, Clair Kessler, Harry Abel and George Ickes, Trustees.

In January of 1943, the local became a member of the Pennsylvania State Fire Fighters Association. In 1947, our members were granted sick leave and six holidays per year. In addition, in 1947 our pension fund was organized, with member Arthur Little being the first to claim pension benefits in 1952. In 1949, our local accepted memberships from the career firefighters from West York Borough and Spring Garden Township.

In 1954, we began to hold an annual banquet to honor our retired members. By 1957, the department consisted of sixty-six paid personnel. The late-1950's saw many public relations events, and was the beginning of our first food stand at the York Inter-State Fair in 1957. A ladies auxiliary was formed in 1958 by a group of wives.

In the 1960's, we started our relationship with the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Robert Little became the first member of the local to obtain the rank of Assistant Fire Chief in 1960. In 1961, the first widow received benefits from the widows pension fund. 1961 also saw the change from single-man apparatus to apparatus being staffed by two career personnel. On July 15, 1963, Robert Little became the first member of the local to advance to the rank of Chief of the fire department. Payroll deduction of union dues commenced in 1964.

On December 1, 1965, our retired firefighters association was formed. On August 10, 1967, our local union was recognized by the city as the sole and exclusive bargaining unit for the career firefighters. 1967 also saw the removal of the residency requirement as an employment requirement. In May of 1969, York City Council passed an ordinance to raise the individual pension up to 50% of an active firefighter's salary. This was due, in part, to the efforts of the retired firefighters association. Our first written contract with the city was made in 1969.

On January 22, 1970, an arbitration decision was announced, reducing our work week from 56 to 48 hours. On July 26, 1970 the fire radio room was shut down as dispatching duties were transferred to York County Control. Tragedy struck the department in 1971, when career firefighter Donald Harrison was killed in the line of duty. Our second food stand at the York Inter-State Fair was opened in 1972. In 1976, four members of the local were laid off due to budgetary cutbacks. All four returned to work a month later. In January 1979, an arbitration award reduced our work week to 42 hours. In December of 1979, our membership voted to take over the city's housing code enforcement as a measure to avoid a reduction in our work force.

On January 1, 1980, our members started to work the "Philadelphia schedule" for the new 42 hour work week, on a four platoon system. The local's first Uniform and Safety committee was formed in July of 1984. In August of 1984, our first family picnic was held for all active and retired members and their families. Hepatitis B immunizations were offered to our members at no cost, due to the efforts of our Uniform and Safety committee.


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