Your membership is your number-one audience. If you can’t get them to stand with you on issues, you will never get elected leaders to pass laws that improve the health, safety and livelihood of your members.

From increasing your local’s member communication on social media to developing a station visitation program, the IAFF has the resources to help affiliates strengthen their union through increased internal communications.

The IAFF has developed this member engagement toolkit to help you improve communications within your local.

Contact [email protected] with any comments or questions about using IAFF toolkits.

Download Internal Organizing Manual

Local Leaders Role in Strengthening Messaging

Whether it’s on the radio, internet or their favorite cable news channel, our members are constantly being hit with messaging. It is our job to get our message out to show the value and disrupt the constant barrage of fake and anti-union rhetoric being forced on our members.

This requires a commitment to strengthening not only our message but the way it is delivered to our members.

Local leaders must serve as the bridge between the IAFF and its membership to ensure the message of the mission is being delivered. This is done by communicating across multiple platforms – delivering information to members in the way they are accustomed to receiving it.


Members Need to Know Value

If you’re going to communicate on behalf of your local, you must be able to show your members value. Members need to see the work being done by their union on all levels, and can’t have their information-gathering process consist only of cable news media and firehouse rumors.


Establishing a Station Visit Program

Face to face communication is the best way to meet, inform and energize your members. That is why the most important step you can take in strengthening internal communications within your local is to establish and maintain a station visit program.

Not only do station visits help to keep your membership strong and to sign up new members, they help to place a familiar face behind all of the emails and texts you send out on behalf of the union.

Recruit Orientation

The strength of any union depends on the degree to which its members support the union and show that support by getting involved in union activities. Convincing members to support the union and participate in its work is one of the central challenges that every local union leader faces.

Leaders can strengthen support for their union among new members and increase the degree to which they get involved in the union through effective new recruit orientation programs.

New recruit orientations are a strategic tool for building union power. High-quality orientations have proven to increase sign ups among new hires and bolster their commitment to the union. Committed members are more likely to stand with the union in the face of tough bargaining fights and political attacks. This means unions can devote more resources to going on offense, instead of wasting precious money and energy shoring up members for defensive fights.

In workplaces where a new recruit is not required to join the union or pay fees, it is critically important that the union makes sure the new recruit understands the significant role they play and how they and their family will benefit from membership. Providing a positive introduction to the union will greatly increase the chances that the new recruit will join the union in the short run and get involved in the long run.

High-quality recruit orientation programs have a positive impact on members’ level of commitment to the union, and the more committed new members are to the union, the more likely they are to participate in union activities.

For recruit programs to have a positive impact, the programs themselves have to be viewed as helpful by new members. Orientations that are sufficiently long enough to communicate the information new members need to know about the union and that provide high-quality informational material are more helpful than shorter, less informative programs.

First impressions make a lasting difference. At a point in time when many union leaders and activists worry that the next generation of workers do not understand or value the important role the IAFF has played, they can help make sure they do by putting every new hire through a high-quality recruit orientation program. The result will be a higher level of commitment and participation among new members and a stronger union.



Making the Case for Union Membership: The Strategic Value of New Hire Orientations (2017, Penn State School of Labor and Employment Relations)

Best Practices In Union New Hire Orientations (2017 Penn State Study on Orientations)

Sample Recruit Orientation PowerPoint

Engage Members for Life: The Power of Recruit Orientation (ALTS 2020 presentation)

There are several benefits to joining the IAFF. However, it’s not just the individual fire fighter who benefits through forming a chartered IAFF local.

The IAFF offers several services that benefit both the agency that our members work for as well as the citizens they serve. The list below offers a snapshot of those benefits offered to the individual member, the technical assistance available to a chartered Local, and resources available to agencies with a chartered local.


Individual Membership Benefits


Technical Expertise Offered to Chartered Locals


Technical Expertise Offered to Chartered Local That Support Service Delivery and Department Operations


Training Opportunities

IAFF SMART is a platform to help leadership communicate, connect and collect with their members. SMART is a complete set of tools for communication, member engagement, roster updates, dues, PAC and charity collections, discipline and grievance tracking, contract and employer administration, direct social media integration and website administration.

Sign Up Now

Internal Organizing Manual

Download and print the following resources to show your members the value of the IAFF

Why We Fight

Why We Fight

Center of Excellence

Center of Excellence

Fireground Survival

Fireground Survival

EMS in the Fire Service

EMS in the Fire Service

Disaster Relief

Disaster Relief

Peer Support Training

Peer Support Training

What’s Our Union Doing for Us?

Members ask all the time, “What’s the IAFF doing for me?” And while our union leaders don’t always take credit for the work they do for their members – just as fire fighters never want to brag about the job they do every day assisting the public – the question deserves an answer.

The “What’s Our Union Doing for Us?” infographics and videos provide a space for the IAFF to answer that question, over and over.