Schaitberger, Safety and Moral Obligation

Diane Cotter Leads From Without

Most IAFF members are under the impression that their union is a fierce and vigorous protector of their safety and health.

Have a seat, we have some bad news.

Harold Schaitberger’s IAFF long ago gave up its once premier role in protecting us.


The date when that happened is certain.

It’s the day we accepted industry ads in our magazine and on our website; thus becoming financially beholden to the very people we must scrutinize.

Have a look at the most recent IAFF magazine–it is chock full of advertising from companies which the IAFF should be watching like a hawk, not taking money from.

IAFF Magazine

Of course, it may have happened earlier when the IAFF became “tight” with industry reps during dinners, meetings and conferences where they paid for access.

Enter Diane Cotter

Diane Cotter, Firefighter Advocate

If you haven’t heard of Diane Cotter you might want to get out a bit more often.

She is relentlessly pursuing the issue of PFOA toxins being present in the firefighter environment especially in protective clothing.

She is the spouse of a Wooster firefighter but she is also much, much more than that.

Through her work she has become the moral voice for firefighter safety and health, filling the void left by the IAFF when they cozied up to manufacturers. 

On the PFOA issue she is holding everyone’s feet to the fire, including the IAFF.

She recently said,

“What I have just learned, is that the IAFF has not changed its statement on PFOA. The statement that Pat Morrison wrote in haste (his exact words during our conf call set up by Rich MacKinnon , and that he ‘got the info from the manufacturers’., we said, “yes we have a huge problem with that Pat”… Pat said he was going to re-write the statement. Today, we understand the statement came from the International Association of Fire Fighters press secretary.

I can’t help you folks anymore with the IAFF… You’re gonna have to speak up. Watch this report, if you’re happy with IAFF’s reply so be it. If you’re not. FIND YOUR VOICE.”

Cotter has no ax to grind and her energy and zeal can only be explained by her desire to protect firefighters and paramedics, the former job of the IAFF.

She has no interest in firefighter or union politics, no need for career advancement and is a voice of plain truth.

Anyone who really knows IAFF General-President Harold Schaitberger also knows, whether they wish to admit it or not, that he is fundamentally interested in power and that he perceives that as being associated with money and deals, especially deals cut over a very expensive steakhouse dinner where he holds court.

He has sold the IAFF’s moral commitment to our safety by allowing the fox to guard the hen house.

Fox Guards Hen House

Those newer to the IAFF may be surprised but older folks have no excuse.

Shaking Down Dying Kids

Schaitberger abandoned our union morality when he cut another deal, this one with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA).

Schaitberger forced the MDA, tasked with supporting sick and dying children, to pay a fee, just like a mob protection racket, in order for the IAFF to “fill the boot.”

That fee has amounted to a nickel on a dollar, millions of dollars siphoned off from children desperate for help.

That is the “soul” of Schaitberger’s “morality.”

Oddly, thousands of firefighters ignore this undisputed fact, like Wehrmacht soldiers who heard about the death camps but reacted with a shrug.


Since Schaitberger steals from dying kids, he would sell you out faster than you can say “prime rib.”

Cotter IAFF 2020?

Just kidding or dreaming, I suppose.

Diane Cotter has no interest in any office but it is stunningly refreshing to have someone talking about health and safety as a moral obligation, even if it is not at the IAFF.

My hope is that she broadens her scope and expertise to include other safety and health issues critical to us.

She proves that a moral duty to protect is still alive.

Go, Diane, go!


  • Diane Cotter says:

    Thank you for this blog Eric! It has been a very difficult couple of years to get through to IAFF. The day before the NBC 10 Boston coverage of our story came out by Karen Hensel, IAFF press secretary sent Karen the original 2017 statement on PFOA that floored us. Just days later on 9.26.18, at the PFAS sub committee hearing, IAFF’s statement changed to stated they support removing the legacy gear containing PFOA. That was a complete 180 in just days !!! đŸ˜‰

  • Diane Cotter says:

    To keep up with this topic, please follow our FB page, Your Turnout Gear and PFOA, and see IAFF’S recently announced PFAS plan of action and PFAS sub-committee statement of 9.26.18 ~

  • Linda Robles says:

    Diane Cotter and Paul, Bossed Up and took her role in leadership in order to bring firefighters out of the fire. She is the reason why firefighters across the country are more aware about PFOA- exposures in firefighting turnout geaar. PFOA- studies on fire fighters is linked to cancer and other serious health problems.
    Diane and Paul are leaving a mark on the United States ground . Her fire against fire , created real change in the way firefighting turnout gear manufacturer do business.

    Diane and Paul Bossed Up and you can not handle it. She is loved by many and she is a true fire fighter putting out some of the worlds worst fires
    Diane it’s a snake bite don’t let it poison your zeal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *