About FSFA

Message From The President

Message From The President

I am honored to be the President of the Florida State Firefighters Association; I have been a member for over 25 years and an have had the pleasure of serving as an officer for the past 15 years.I am active with many other fire service organizations as well. I believe it is time for the FSFA to be at the center of bringing together many of these groups that have a common interest in the fire service for the benefit of all and the advancement of tradition and brotherhood in the Florida Fire Service, today, tomorrow and for the future.The Florida State Firefighters Association has been in existence since 1925 with our Headquarters in Avon Park. I invite everyone to visit www.fsfa.com to find out all the latest information and events in the State. Start making plans to attend the 2011 Convention and Championship Competition hosted by the Estero and San Carlos Park Firefighters at the Bass Pro Shop on June 8th-11th. Please visit the web site for updates and current events.

​Stay Safe,

Michael Taussig

About the Association

The primary purpose of the Association is to raise the prestige of the fire service in the public eye, to provide the firefighters of Florida with a strong and unified weapon to assist them in their efforts to better themselves and the general public in the matter of firefighting, education, life safety, and fire prevention.
Other objectives that the Association pledges itself to strive for are: to establish harmony of action, to promote the best interests of the firefighters of Florida, to cultivate a fraternal fellowship between the firefighters of the State, to promote cooperation and coordination between the fire departments and other branches of municipal, county, state, and federal agencies involved in the suppression and prevention of fire, and to sponsor and further such legislation as will tend to raise the standards of all fire 

This Association is operated by a Board of Directors consisting of the following officers: President, First Vice President, Second Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, two directors at Large, and the Immediate Past President. These officers are elected at the annual conference usually held during the months of May or June. The President appoints a Vice President to preside over and carry out the activities of the Association in each of the twelve districts of the State. The division of the State into districts is a provision of the Association by-laws, These appointees are known as District Vice Presidents, and each may in turn appoint as many necessary within his District to serve as his deputies. Each District Vice President is responsible for arranging district meetings within his district. Such meetings enable a great number of members to attend and participate in Association meetings 

  • During the early years of this Association, we sponsored an annual three-day Fire School Session. This led to the need and desire for a full-time institution for training, which resulted in the sponsoring and enactment of legislation to create the Florida State Fire College. This was achieved in 1949 in Ocala, Florida.
  • Successfully sponsored the first State law establishing the maximum time in a work week for firefighters.
  • Sponsored the enactment of the present Firemen’s Pension Trust Fund for Florida firefighters (Chapter 175, Statutes of Florida). This law diverts the two percent (2%) State excise tax on fire and tornado insurance premiums sold within the cities into the local pension funds.
  • Sponsored, and was successful in having passed, State laws which enable independent volunteer fire departments to obtain official X tags for their vehicles, and allows the use of red lights on the private vehicles of firefighters when responding to fire alarms or other emergencies.
  • Sponsored legislation which exempts volunteer fire departments from payment of State sales tax on equipment.
  • Supported the State law which created the office of State Fire Marshal.
  • Was instrumental in raising funds for the construction of the fire station and mechanics shop at the Florida Sheriff’s Boys’ Ranch in Live Oak, Florida.
  • Was successful in locating and constructing a modern and adequate home office building in Avon Park, Florida, which was dedicated debt free in April of 1973.
  • The Association actively supports the EMS Providers Association, the Florida Fire Marshals Association, the Florida Firefighters Burn Foundation, and the Florida Chapter of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors.
  • An Association representative gave testimony before Congressional Committees in Washington in support of the creation of the National Fire Prevention and Control Act.
  • Established a film library for the use of our members. The present value of the library, consisting of training and public relations films and slide presentations, is $15,000.
  • Supported the establishment of standards for the marking and identification of hazardous materials while in shipment, in storage, or on display for vending, in such a manner that emergency forces can readily identify their special properties and take appropriate precautions for the protection of lives and property.
  • Was instrumental in securing and implementing the incentive program for Florida firefighters.
  • Organized a coalition of all fire service organizations in Florida to support beneficial legislation in Tallahassee, and supported the formation of a joint council of fire service organizations.
  • Established a Bunker Gear program to provide good used gear to departments with at least one third membership in the Association.
  • Appoints and maintains an active Legislative Committee which strives to promote and pass legislation which is in the best interest of all fire services. This committee has been actively involved in the support of many existing State laws and works to maintain and protect these laws through a strong lobbying effort in Tallahassee.
  • Supported the establishment of a baccalaureate degree in fire science through correspondence courses at Florida International University, Miami.
  • Lobbied successfully for mandatory sprinkler protection in certain buildings, and special smoke detectors for the hearing impaired.
  • The Association holds active membership in the National Volunteer Fire Council.
  • To strive for unity among all fire-oriented groups to accomplish our ultimate goal, which is to work for the betterment and upgrading of all fire services in the State of Florida.
  • Provide, by statute, for fire insurance premium credits for cities in which fire personnel have achieved a predetermined level of training and demonstrate competence in prescribed areas of fire protection.
  • To support the required demonstration of competence in providing fire protection, in all its implications, before a charter is issued to a volunteer fire department.
  • To encourage that current State laws be studied in order to evaluate the propriety of existing laws pertaining to fire safety, and those that are outmoded, obsolete, or contradictory be repealed or revised.
  • To expand present Association facilities for the creation of a State Fire Museum and Memorial.

History

In late December 1924, Jacksonville Fire Chief Tom Haney wrote to several other fire chiefs, asking them to meet with him in his office to discuss the formation of an association.

On January 25th 1925, nine fire chiefs from around the state of Florida met for the purpose of organizing an Association of Florida Firemen. The nine organizing chiefs were: Tom Haney of Jacksonville, A.P.Sadler of West Palm Beach, T. P. Coe of Tallahassee, B. B. Hart of Daytona, E. F. Beville of Gainesville; Rutledge Smith of South Jacksonville, R.N.Hershey of Lake Worth, C. P. Townsend of St. Augustine, and F.C. Pfhaender of Winter Haven. The Chairman elected was Chief R. N. Hershey of Lake Worth, and Secretary was Chief F. C. Pfhaender of Winter Haven (who held the position until his death in May 1945). All those present pledged themselves to organize into a State Firemen’s Association. They declared that, effective that day, they were forming for the sole purpose of bettering the conditions of the fire service and the protection of life and property in the state of Florida.

Chiefs Hershey and Sadler were appointed to draft the Constitution and bylaws, and Chiefs Townsend, Hart and Smith were appointed as a committee to act on matters of legislation.

Their next meeting was in Gainesville on March 11, 1925. The first officers elected to the FSFA were President, RN Hershey: 1VP EF Beville; 2VP Captain JB Chancey; Secretary FC Pfhaender; BB Hart, Treasurer. The first annual convention was awarded to Palatka over the City of Winter Haven by a vote of 25 to 17. At that meeting, they revised the bylaws, bonded the treasurer, approved the officers in their offices, added Chief Haney as Statistician and granted to him the honor of creating the coat of arms to be used as the seal of the Association. It was approved that, not only the bylaws be sent to every fire department, but that the same be represented to the legislature for state approval.

The first convention was held on March 30-31, 1927 in Palatka. The second was held in Hollywood, with considerable discussion regarding the drawing up of a pension bill. The bill was presented several years in a row to the state legislature for approval with no success. What was successful, however, was the establishment of the Florida Fire College, under the direct leadership and sponsorship of the Florida State Firemen’s Association, and was located originally in Daytona May 7-9, 1930. They adopted the program of the Michigan State Firemen’s Association Fire College, where each group of students moved from instructor to instructor within a two-hour time frame. The program was amended the following year allowing each student to take one subject at a time over a 3-day period. In 1947, The Executive Committee of the Florida State Firemen’s Association chose Ocala as the permanent home of the Florida State Fire College. The City of Ocala granted 6 acres of land on a 99-year lease.

At the same time, the bylaws were amended to divide the state into six districts, with a District Vice President in each district, following as nearly as possible the lines used by the American Legion. Reflecting the growth of Florida, the state is now divided into twelve districts.

Somewhere about 1931 or 1932, the “Florida Fireman” was born. L. E. Vause, a newspaperman from Williston, first edited it. Mr. Vause was at the same time Vice President of District 3. Mr. Vause later abandoned publication of this paper and Chief Ed Henshaw of New Smyrna took over the duties of editor and publisher. The paper at that time was in the form of a newspaper and printed on very rough grade paper. The paper at that time contained nothing of educational value to the state firemen and there was a demand for something better. In 1941 the Executive Committee entered into a contract with Chief. H. R. Chase of Miami to publish the “Florida Fireman” for one year. Chief Chase did such an excellent job at this that, in spite of repeated requests on his part to be relieved, he held the position for many years at the request of the officers and members of the Association. It was, at that time, the only State Firemen’s Association magazine printed in the South and quickly became recognized as one of the foremost magazines of its kind in the United States.

Now, here in the 21st Century, eighty years later, the Florida State Firefighters’ Association stands as one of, if not the most, education-specific and training-oriented fire service organizations in the country. It created the Florida State Fire Chiefs’ Association, the Florida State Fire Instructors’ Association, the Florida State Mechanics’ Association, the Florida State Fire Marshals’ Association, and several other equally fire service-specific organizations, then brought them all together under the coalition title of Joint Council of the Florida Fire Service Organizations. It sponsored the enactment of the present Firemen’s Pension Trust Fund, sponsored the state law which created the office of State Fire Marshall, and maintains membership open to all personnel who are affiliated in any way, shape or form with the fire service. Membership is not restricted solely to those who are “on the line.”

Many individuals have been connected with the formation and growth of the Florida State Firemen’s Association. There were the chiefs of the 20’s, who had an idea, then a concept and then followed through with a creation. Then came men like Mack Flowers, John Wright, Buddy Dewar, Dale Oswalt and others – men from all levels of the firefighting strata, who carried and directed the Association for most of their lives. Now we have a new generation who have revitalized the Association with new ideas, new directions and new energy, all for the specific benefit of the Florida firefighter and the Florida Fire Service.

In the 1990’s, the term “fireMAN was changed to fireFIGHTER because there were now a greater number of females within the larger metropolitan departments and it became politically correct to change. Up until then, the profession was almost entirely made up of men. There were very few women in the paid firefighting field, but there was a great number of women in the volunteer departments around the state, who willingly served both out of need and out of desire. The wives were normally the support group, and in 1932 were officially formed as the Florida State Firemen’s Auxiliary, organized for the specific purpose of supporting the firemen in their endeavors. Now, the Auxiliary is made up of spouses and significant others, those persons who are the alternatives and partners to the firefighters, those who are there to help and support.

Have you anything to offer to the Association? Become a member. Join us, and be welcome. Be advised that there is a place for you. We are here for you, as well as being here for each and every other firefighter out there.