The third anniversary of the Charleston tragedy is today.  Please take a moment to remember the nine fire fighters that gave their lives on that evening — Brad Baity, Mike Benke, Melven Champaign, Earl Drayton, Billy Hutchinson, Mark Kelsey, Michael French, Louis Mulkey, and Brandon Thompson – and their families.

At the time of the fire, the Charleston Fire Department was an organization that had lulled itself into the belief that their operations were acceptable.  That mistaken belief was shattered in an instant.

The Charleston Fire Department today is an organization on the move.  IAFF Local 61 President Bill Haigler and Fire Chief Tom Carr have now made significant changes in the Charleston Fire Department.  Labor and management are working together to advance the organization and ensure member input in the process.  A teamwork structure that was not even considered prior to this tragedy and not even allowed until the former fire chief was “retired”!!

The department is being properly staffed, has new modern apparatus and protective clothing – and just as important – new operating procedures and training for all members.

Take a moment today to remember all our fallen brothers and sisters – and take a moment to think about your own fire department and local union.  And do your part to keep our brothers and sisters safe as each of you serve your community.