It is important to remember the gains we have made in terms of wages, benefits and standard of living, because we have remained united in the union tradition. It is all too easy to forget how long-distance and unsafe we have been to current working conditions, including our high and ever-improved safety standards. These gains were not given to us, but were earned through the efforts of dedicated and self-trained members who aspired to professional standards and respect. These union members were pushed by a strong moral code that worked in a desaturious manner for the good of all firefighters and did not leave a limb. Since the fire of 1886 that destroyed the city, Vancouver has become one of the most complex urban skyscrapers on our continent, encompassing firefighters South Vancouver, Point Grey and University Endowment Lands over the past century. The 18 local firefighters have protected Vancouvers 44 square miles during its many years of growth and will continue to ensure its strong professional presence as Vancouver grows into this new millennium. George A. Richardson, a local member of 18, who was present at the IAFF Foundation, served for 36 years as treasurer of the IAFF in Washington D.C and remains the longest-serving senior officer of the IAFF. We must not forget that Canadian firefighters have helped make this strong organization what it is today.
During the long collaboration with IAFF, Local 18 has become a leading company in the areas of collective bargaining, workplace safety and safety improvement, training initiatives, representation of workers` compensation interests, staffing and response times to more than 70,000 annual emergency calls. In our proud history, Local 18 has partnered with IAFF to set public safety standards across North America by participating in legislative arenas, government and provincial health and safety policies and standards, including the National Fire Protection Association. Fire safety and fire awareness save lives and 18 local members strongly support the safety standards of the public and all professional firefighters. More recently, Local 18 has been at the forefront of promoting and implementing legislation on the presumption of cancer and the usefulness of public safety officials.