The Venerable Bill Hand Weighs In


Senior IAFF Member and Haz Mat Instructor

Bill Hand, of IAFF Local 341, is one of the most seasoned and distinguished hazardous materials and firefighting experts in the US.  I suppose his career success has many reasons but foremost among them is his totally commonsense and plain spoken wisdom.  I think people have always considered him a leader due to his even-handed approach and because he looks out for the line fire fighter and union member.

Bills weighs in:

"… after being an IAFF member for 31 years and spending 25 years as a Hazmat/WMD instructor here are a few observations……As a "IAFF Contract Instructor" I saw many of my brother instructors treated in a very un union way. Things were done that the IAFF would never let happen if it was coming from a fire chief or some city official in a Right to Work state. All of our instructors were active union members, so why the different treatment because they were "Contractors"? It seemed like we were working for the most non union outfit I had ever worked for. Personally I hung in there for as long as I could and tried to put politics and other abuses of power aside by focusing on our customers. It was always about the health and safety of the folks in the street. Well, last December I decided that I had witnessed all the hypocrisy I could from the GP and current leadership of the program and resigned. I still support and believe in our great union, but the leadership needs to get more in touch with the world outside the Beltway."

One could conclude that the IAFF is being run not with basic union principles, but rather with the worst aspects of management dictatorial rule.

The IAFF has morphed from a union into a business enterprise where the "deal is the thing."

Under this mandate the revered goals of member advocacy and concern for rights has fallen prey to the notion that the IAFF name and history is for sale, a piece at a time.

Implicit in this sale is a conflict of interest where the health, safety and prosperity of our members is forfeit without regard for the most basic union ethics.

IAFF leaders should be acting in such a way as to "avoid even the appearance of impropriety."

Sadly, members of the executive board, with a very few notable exceptions, are ethically porcine, unwilling or unable to stand up for our union.


  • Dennis says:


    Bill's story is not unique.  After I retired in 2000 I worked for the Seafarer's Union (SIU), as a "contractor" maritime firefighting instructor.  So, with 30 years of experience in the fire service, they paid me the paltry sum of $28K per year.  I quit after 8 months because I knew they were screwing me.  Then, I had the opportunity to work for the political appointee seat place holder from the IAFF.  She pretty much treated the career staff like crap (I certainly never encounted a union leader like her before).  So what you are illuminating is no surpise to me.  But thanks for jumping on the bandwagon!

  • Eric Lamar says:

    On this bandwagon I am seated and belted and it's a four-door cab. đŸ˜‰

  • Bill Hand says:

    I probably won't be jumping on any bandwagons (I have bad knees) but if I was, I would be proud to ride with most of the brother and sister instructors that I had the pleasure to meet and work with over the years. Same goes for the Hazmat/WMD staff in the office, except maybe one.

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