Ray R. Rahne
9th District Vice President
Pursuant to Article 6, Section 3 of the International Association of Fire Fighters Constitution and By-Laws, I respectfully submit the following report of my activities as Vice-President of the 9th District to general President Harold S. Schaitberger, General Secretary-Treasurer Edward A. Kelly, the IAFF Executive Board and all officers and delegates in attendance at this 55th Convention of the International Association of Fire Fighters. Because of the time needed to prepare and produce the IAFF convention documents, this report is written and submitted in November of 2020. Consequently, events occurring after December 1, 2020, are not included in this report. Due to COVID-19, travel was restricted from April through present. There were no in-person state conventions held in the 9th District in 2020.
During this reporting period, I was appointed by General President Schaitberger to serve on the following committees: Budget and Finance; Education and Training; Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial (Chair); Emergency Disputes Fund and Legal Services; Emergency Medical Services (Chair); Occupational Health, Safety and Behavioral Wellness; Scholarship Funds Trustee; IAFF Financial Corporation Director; and Behavioral Health Steering Committee (Chair). Serving on these committees with my fellow dedicated, conscientious and knowledgeable District Vice Presidents, the impressive IAFF AGPs and their specialized staff was a true honor and privilege!
The General President called six E-Board meetings during this reporting period. I attended each session of these meeting representing, to the best of my ability, the interests, requests and concerns of the members of the 9th District and all IAFF members. I also attended two Legislative Conferences, ALTS/HR DFSR training/conferences, EMS committee meeting, Redmond Symposium in Nashville, the 100-year IAFF 54th Convention in Seattle in 2018, two emotional and incredibly heartwarming Fallen Fire Fighters Memorials in Colorado Springs, and several Behavioral Health Steering Committee meetings called by the General President to address any Center of Excellence issues. The thought-provoking idea of a possible West Coast COE was discussed and given careful consideration during these meetings. The IAFF/IAFC held the Labor Management Alliance Conference in Denver. The 9th District would like to thank AGP Ridley and his staff for their time, energy and leadership devoted to the planning, speakers, workshops and follow up that made this conference a tremendous success.
The IAFF EMS Standing Committee met in Toronto in May of 2018. I had the honor to Chair this committee of 16 very talented EMS members. Topics discussed were: opioid response, active shooter, opposition to REPLICA, opposition to changing common nomenclature of EMS in the U.S., IAFF advocacy for public bleeding control kits, and access to paramedic training. The work done by these dedicated committee members, one from each IAFF district, was remarkable and exceptionally informative. Thanks to all EMS Standing Committee members for their continued work on behalf of all IAFF members.
The IAFF E-Board spent an enormous amount of time formulating the 2020 IAFF budget. This was a difficult budget session as there were many unforeseen obstacles to overcome. The bottom line was a balanced budget with NO layoffs and NO cut in services to affiliates and members of the IAFF.
On another time-consuming topic, your District Vice Presidents have been made aware of several serious allegations – and I stress allegations – questions and concerns involving our finances and various pension plans. We take these allegations seriously and are diligently working through these matters as any Executive Board Officer should, while we continue our work to protect our members and provide service to our local affiliates. To assist the District Vice Presidents with our work, we are and have been taking multiple steps, including: established a pension administrative committee, engaged outside legal counsel and, in accordance with IAFF Policy Code of Ethical Practices/Conflict of Interest adopted February 2015, established an Ethical Practices Committee (EPC), all of which will assist us in performing our due diligence and allow us to report our ultimate findings to our affiliate leaders. We will adhere to the policies of the IAFF and ensure confidentiality and attorney privilege is maintained until the EPC issues a written report on its findings to the full Executive Board. This process will ensure we proceed on a path that safeguards our International and ensures we are performing our due diligence at the highest level.
I want to thank Director Rick Swan of the Health and Safety Department concerning Wildland/Urban Interface response by IAFF members. Under the leadership of Director Swan, the IAFF has developed Responding to the Interface Training Program, a comprehensive training program for specialized Urban Interface firefighting that focuses on the safety issues associated with urban interface response. This training includes 10 free one-hour modules and two days of hands-on field instruction from matter experts in your jurisdiction. Director Swan is collaborating with AGP Del Re of the Grants Department to obtain grant money to pay for the two-day hands-on class. To receive the full details of this exciting and important new training, please contact Director Rick Swan.
Thanks to all IAFF members that battled the hundreds of wildland/urban interface fires that blistered the 9th District in 2018. The coordinated effort by the IAFF, state and locals leaders helped control these devastating fires.
I want to thank 9th District DFSR Jeff Hamilton for his incredible work this reporting period! I assigned Brother Hamilton numerous projects of behalf of the Sisters and Brothers of the 9th District, which included: FIRECARES and NFORS, educating local secy/tres of their duties and responsibilities, welcoming new local officers in the 9th District and educating them on the resources of the IAFF and their state associations, the logistics and developing the agenda for the 9th District Leadership Forum and arbitration issues to name just a few. Brother Hamilton and I attended all state conventions and presidents’ forums in Utah and Nevada. We also attended the Colorado/Wyoming and Oregon MDA Boot Camps with both being a huge success due in large part to the Colorado/Wyoming and Oregon MDA staff. The enthusiastic attendees were presented with numerous awards including the coveted Michael D. McNeill for Excellence and the Randal E. Atkinson for Commitment awards.
The AFL-CIO held their National Convention in St. Louis in October of 2018. General President appointed me as one of the delegates to the convention. Thanks to General President Schaitberger for affording me the opportunity to attend the convention. Also, thanks to DVP Woolbright and the 2nd District for their hospitality at this convention.
The IAFF E-Board met numerous times via Zoom. The board continued to do their work and make many difficult decisions. The IAFF will hold their first historic Virtual Convention for 2020 in January 0f 2021. The IAFF will elect the two principal officers for the first time in 20 years!
The 9th District would like to thank General President Schaitberger for his tremendous leadership of the IAFF for the last 20 years! General President Schaitberger’s commitment, dedication, devotion, integrity and guidance to the IAFF has moved the IAFF into one of the premier International Unions in existence today. I believe one of General President Schaitberger’s superlative qualities is to “think out of the box” to make the IAFF a more efficient Union to support the membership. The DSFR concept and the Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health and Recovery, a one-of-a-kind center for professional fire fighters, are just two examples of thinking out of the box that have improved fire fighters and their family’s lives!
I would personally like to thank IAFF Genera President Schaitberger for his advice, support and especially his friendship for the last 20 years. You have encouraged and supported me during difficult times to help me become a better leader and person. Darlene and I wish you and Karen the best in retirement.
The following are the updates of the five states of the 9th District:
All five states endured outbreaks from the COVID-19 virus, which created isolation and quarantine measures for an abundant of 9th District locals. These measures caused some fire fighter shortages and for many fire fighters to work extradentary hours of overtime causing fatigue and burnout issues. I want to thank all the 9th District leadership for their diligent work to keep their members and their families safe during this pandemic.
All states survived the 2020 election with some gaining in their state legislators and some losing a few seats. All look forward to the 2021 legislative session to continue their strong work of protecting and defending their members.
In 2018, the IAFF, CPFF and Southeast Weld County Local 5161 won a Guardian case for the unlawful termination of the president of Local 5161. The Department made the president whole and had to pay the IAFF 90% of legal fees associated with this case.
The Colorado Professional Fire Fighters (CPFF), guided by President Frainier and Secy/Tres Cordova, worked with the Fire Police Pension Association (FPPA) during the 2018 and 2019 sessions to develop pension reform. This reform was to increase the percentage the cities and districts pay into the FPPA. The CPFF made this bill top priority for the 2020 legislative session. Bill HB 20-1044 FPPA Death/Disability and Pension Reform was one of the first bills to move through both the House and Senate this session and was signed by the Governor!
Colorado held two Leadership Summits, with both Summits well-attended by a majority of CPFF locals. The attendees were educated on subjects that included IAFF updates, CPFF updates, CPFF political actions and campaigns strategies and breakout sessions for presidents and secy/tres.
Colorado Springs Local 5, the CPFF and the IAFF put forth collective bargaining during a city-wide referendum election in the spring of 2019. All three entities worked hand in hand to collect signatures to put the referendum on the ballot, educate the public on the pros of collective bargaining and the Get Out to Vote campaign. Although Local 5 was not successful in the election, it was not for the lack of hard work by Local 5. There were many lessons learned in this campaign that can be used for future collective bargaining campaigns but also the respect the Local 5 leadership and members gained from the city and citizens of being accurate, truthful and fair with their campaign.
In September, the CPFF E-Board and myself attended the Taylor Rogers Family Foundation fundraiser in Minneapolis for behavioral health issues in the fire service. Taylor Rogers is a Major League Baseball pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. Taylor is the son, grandson and nephew of three IAFF and CPFF members. Taylor has gained great respect and knowledge of how fire fighters can suffer from behavioral health issues from the job. Taylor and his family created the Taylor Rogers Family Foundation to help combat this serious behavioral health issue in the fire service. This was the second annual event hosted by the Minnesota Twins and Major League Baseball. This year, the IAFF was represented by General President Schaitberger, General Secretary/Treasurer Kelly, 5th District DVP Thornberg and myself. General President Schaitberger threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Taylor Rogers. Also in attendance were members from the PFFM E-Board and numerous locals. Thanks to the 5th District for their gracious hospitality. The proceeds from this event was split with the IAFF Foundation, the District 5 Foundation and the 9th District Foundation.
Colorado experienced the worst wildland fire season in history with three of its most devastating fires. The Pine Creek fire scorched 139,00 acres and shut down I-70 for two weeks. The Cameron Pike fire started on August 13, 2020, and burned 208,193 acres with 469 structures destroyed and is now 94% contained. The East Troublesome fire charred 193,812 acres and demolished 518 structures and is now 98% contained. This fire grew by more than 87,00 acres in a 48-hour period and burned into Rocky Mountain National Park closing the park for more than three weeks. Overall, Colorado had over 600,00 acres burn this year! Three IAFF members lost their homes due these fires. The IAFF and the CPFF provided financial relief to all three and will be there for them as needed.
In 2018, the 9th District had a change in leadership within the Professional Fire Fighters of Nevada (PFFN). Long-time PFFN Secretary/Treasurer Scott Gorgon stepped down from his leadership position with the PFFN to move forward with the next chapter in his life. Brother Gorgon will be profoundly missed by North Las Vegas Local 1607, the PFFN, the 9th District and the IAFF for his knowledge, leadership and compassion for all fire fighters. I will also miss Brother Scott for his genuine friendship throughout our years together. Scott is replaced by Ryan Green of Local 2955 Reno airport. Brother Green was chosen by his peers on the PFFN E-Board to fulfill Gorgon’s PFFN term. Congratulations to Brother Green for this honor and his leadership with the PFFN. During the 2019 legislative session, under the leadership of President Aragon, Secy/Tres Green and the PFFN legislative team persuaded the legislators of Nevada to pass behavioral health presumptive legislation for PTSI. This legislation was the top priority of the PFFN during this legislative session. Strong work on behalf of the PFFN! The PFFN was selected by the IAFF to be the second state to participate in the new state Political Training Academy (PTA) program. The state PTA is a shortened version of the IAFF original PTA but designed exclusively for that state. The Nevada state PTA helped Nevada local leadership educate their members as to the “why” the IAFF and the PFFN support specific state candidates and issues. The IAFF Governmental, Political and Public Affairs Department partnered with the PFFN leadership to provide this valued training. Thanks to AGP Lang and Director LaVigne for this innovative concept.
PFFN President Aragon retired form Las Vegas Local 1285 and stepped down as President of the PFFN for personal reasons. President Aragon’s leadership and tenacity helped move the PFFN into an extremely powerful legislative powerhouse. President Aragon will be missed by the PFFN. I will miss his leadership, humor and dedication as Anglo moves forward with his family and retirement. Thanks for all your strong work for all the members of the PFFN and your continued friendship!
Todd Ingalsbee was elected as the new President of the PFFN. Ingalsbee is the President of Local 1285. Todd has been totally engaged with the PFFN for numerous years and helped shape the PFFN as the legislator director for the years. I look forward working with President Ingalsbee as the PFFN moves forward.
Nevada also experienced numerous wildlands fires this year. The last fire was in the Reno area where many expensive homes were lost to the fire, but the Nevada fire fighters were able to save the majority of the neighborhood. Again, no major injuries or loss of primary residences to any fire fighters.
The Oregon State Fire Fighters Council (OSFFC), under the leadership of President Koenig and Sec/Tres Hanes, was successful in passing PTSI legislation in 2019. This legislation was the top priority of the OSFFC and a real testament to the strong work done by the OSFFC. The OSFFC has also been working with the Governor and legislators of Oregon to develop a statewide intern fire fighter program. This program would provide for fire fighter interns to be paid and be developed into Fire Fighter I Certification and to be then hired by departments that need new fire fighters. President Koenig continues to lobby on behalf of this program.
The Eugene/Springfield Local 851 experienced a “near miss” shooting tragedy in October of 2018. This incident was the result of a deranged cowardly man who set his house on fire and then waited in the dark to ambush the first due in engine and medic crews. The shooter used a shotgun to fire upon the five-person crew as they came upon a fully involved structure fire. The engine and medic unit had numerous shotgun blasts to their units, including the windshields. None of the crew was physical injured, although crew members had shotgun pellets embedded in their turnouts, but they did suffer significant behavioral health trauma. President Caven of Local 851 requested immediate response from the IAFF Peer Behavioral Health team to assist Local 851’s Peer Behavioral team. These two teams were also assisted by Local 1660, Tualatin Valley Peer Behavioral Health team, to provide exceptional peer and clinical support to the members, spouses, significant others and families of Local 851.
The OSFFC has founded an excellent statewide Communications Team made up of Oregon members that graduated from the IAFF Communications Training Academy (CTA). These three members, Hon, McLennan and Morgan, are doing a superb job in helping all locals in Oregon communicate with their members and being there to help with any PR needs that arise in the state. Great idea by the OSFFC!
Oregon experienced one of their worst wildland fire seasons in history. Oregon had a 100-year fire that moved from the east to the west burning many communities from Medford, Detroit, to Portland. An issue with the fires was the lack of fire fighters to staff for adequate firefighting. The positive side of these fires were no major injuries to fire fighters and no fire fighters lost their primary residence. The IAFF and OSFFC provided financial and behavioral health support to fire fighters and their families.
The Professional Fire Fighters of Utah (PFFU) directed by President Tidrow and Secy/Tres Davis continues to have success on the legislative front. In the 2019 session, the PFFU was able to change a previous pension law in which the state created a two-tier system with tier two members receiving lower benefits than tier one. President Tidrow and his legislative team were able to convince the legislators that fire fighters doing the same work should not have different pension benefits. The legislators saw the wisdom of the PFFU and made all members tier one. A great win for the PFFU! Tidrow and his team did minor enhancements for the tier two legislation that was passed in 2019 during the 2020 session.
The PFFN team also worked on retired fire fighters’ mental health benefits and mental health protections for first responders concerning workers’ compensation claims. President Tidrow and his team continue to secure impressive legislation with collaborating with a coalition of labor friendly supporters.
The PFFU held two behavioral health seminars. These seminars were designed to educate new potential behavioral health clinicians of the need for the specialized training to treat fire fighters suffering from behavioral health issues. The clinician enthusiasm during this session and their responses after the session demonstrated the PFFU was meeting the goals of this Seminar. I want to thank the PFFU for inviting me to be part of this groundbreaking process.
The IAFF and the 9th District lost one of our best when Brother Matthew Burchett, a member of Local 1696 Salt Lake County, UT, was confirmed a Line of Duty Death. Brother Burchett perished while fighting the Mendocino Complex Fire in California when he was struck by a falling tree. Brother Matt was the crew Task Force Leader and was an expert at his craft in wildland firefighting. Burchett was described as a smart, hardworking and experienced wildland fire fighter. Brother Matthew Burchett was a true hero, mentor, friend, son, husband, father and brother. Matt was 42 years old and leaves behind his wife and young son. May you rest in peace Brother Burchett, job well done. The 9th District would also like to thank CAL FIRE and the Professional Firefighters of California for their professionalism, kindness and compassion bringing Brother Burchett home to Utah.
The Federated Fire Fighters of Wyoming (FFFWY) was notified by Mills Local 4961 that the City of Mills informed the members of Local 4961 that they would all be terminated at the end of their contract of July 1, 2019. The local and city were in the middle of contract negotiations. The President of the FFWY, Reddy, consulted with the IAFF and explained the dilemma of Local 4961. The IAFF sent in their first-class Communications Team and went to work with Local 4961 and the FFFWY to place together a public relations campaign that educated the citizens of Mills on the ill-conceived ideas the mayor and city council had of destroying their fire department. The citizens made their voices heard loud and clear at the next city council meeting. The public was asking for the mayor’s and some city council members’ resignation. The City of Mills finally agreed to mediation and Local 4961 came away with a new one-year contract. This was solid work from Local 4961, the FFFWY and the IAFF. This again emphasizes that fire fighters belong to the greatest Union in the U.S. and Canada!
The FFFWY faced an attack on their statewide collective bargaining law for fire fighters during 2018. This attack was generated by an old nemesis of the FFFWY, a senator from the Sheridan area. President Reddy and his team went to work around the clock for numerous weeks to fight this ugly legislation. In the end, the FFFWY was able to convince enough legislators to kill this bill. Robust work on behalf of the FFFWY.
In 2019, the FFFWY decided to introduce Senate File 0117, First Responder Mental Injury Coverage. The Bill is an act relating to workers’ compensation, specifying when mental injury is considered a compensable injury for first responders. President Reddy was tenacious in his lobbying efforts and Senate File 0117 passed and is now law in the state of Wyoming!
Wyoming also saw their share of wildland fires this season; however, at this time, no fire fighters homes were lost. Solid work on behalf of the FFFWY!
New locals this reporting period:
Local 5220 Rocky Mountain Professional Fire Fighters of Colorado
Local 5227 Northeast Fire Protection District of Colorado
My final thoughts: It is with heavy heart that I announce that this will be my final IAFF report as I will be retiring at the IAFF 55th Convention. In September of 2020, I will have 48 years in the IAFF, 18 years as President with my home Local 2086, 24 years as Secretary/Treasurer of the Colorado Professional Fire Fighters and eight years as the 9th District Vice President. Sisters and Brothers, this has been the most incredible journey of my life, being part of this great International Association of Fire Fighters. I was fortunate to have many mentors in my IAFF journey with two of the finest being Michael D. McNeill and Randall E. Atkinson, both former 9th District DVPs. These two distinguished leaders taught me many lessons as I grew up in the IAFF movement. Honesty, integrity, to be humble, to understand that is an honor and privilege to serve the members, compassion, follow up and follow through with issues, and to remember that you are a fire fighter and member of the IAFF. Although I won’t be able to recognize all who also helped influence me over the years, I would like to mention the following: DVPs Emeritus Russel Cerami, Buddy Mass, Jim Ferguson, Bill Taylor, Michael Mullane, Larry Osborne, Secretary Treasurer Emeritus Tommy Miller and President Harold Schaitberger. Thanks to my grandparents and parents that taught me that life is not always easy and fair but to do what is right and you will have no regrets. I have found that fire fighters have a unique experience by being able to see our two great counties from the inside out. To see the people we serve at their best and worst. To know that we are with them in the trenches of life. This unique experience is what makes us what we are, fire fighters, to be on the front line of defense no matter what challenges they have before them, we are in the trenches with them.
I want to thank all those at the IAFF I have had the honor and privilege to serve with over these last eight years. The DVPs that are there every day, every hour to help each other and our members whenever an issue is brought out. The incredible staff that will drop everything to answer a call from a DVP. The General President and his phenomenal staff. The General Secretary-Treasurer and his impressive staff. All the AGPs and their staffs. You all made my life so much easier to serve the 9th District.
Thank you to my friend, confident, always there when I asked for help, the 9th District DFSR Jeff Hamilton. You’re the best!
Finally, I want to thank my family for their support and understanding for the last 48 years. I know I haven’t always been there physically for you, but you were always in my heart. Thank you for allowing me to follow my dream in life. Thank you to my beautiful wife, Darlene, for being my partner in this IAFF journey! As Darlene and I move forward with the next chapter in our life, we hope to see you all in the future.
To the 9th District, The Best in the West, thank you for allowing me to serve you!