International Association of Black Professional Firefighters celebrates its 50th anniversary in Hartford
The International Association of Black Professional Firefighters (IABPFF) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week in Hartford.
The IABPFF has over 8,000 members and works to recruit Black career firefighters and assist them with career progression through training, mentorship, mental health resources and legal representation.
About 80% of firefighters are non-Hispanic white, and only about 6% are Black, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association.
“When I came on the job, there were maybe one or two African American officers in my department,” said Frank Tidwell, northeast regional director for the IABPFF. “Today, there are maybe 20.”
Gary Tinney, executive vice president of the IABPFF, pointed to economic problems that may occur when fire departments don’t resemble the communities they serve.
“You go into a city like New Haven and most individuals are coming in from other cities,” Tinney said. “They’re taking that money and leaving. That money’s not staying in the community.”
The organization, which held its first convention in Hartford in 1970, originally planned its golden anniversary celebration for 2020 but had to postpone it due to the pandemic.
The anniversary convention, which included a memorial march on Wednesday, will continue all week. On Friday, a community service event will take place, during which firefighters will distribute school supplies to Hartford students.