In 1956, the first two full-time Airport Firefighters were hired at the Monroe County Airport, with two more hired the following year. In 1960, a Supervising Firefighter position was created and five more Firefighters were hired, bringing the total manpower to nine. In addition to those full-timers, the airport utilized six mechanics who were cross-trained as Firefighters and, if necessary, an additional 40 airport employees could be made available to assist in other roles. Most of these personnel operated out of one building that housed both the Fire Station and Equipment Maintenance Facility.
It was from this building that Firefighters responded on July 2, 1963 when Mohawk Airlines Flight 121 crashed while taking off during a thunderstorm. There were a total of seven fatalities, and 36 injuries to those onboard the aircraft, which was consumed by a post-crash fire. If not for the immediate actions of the Airport Firefighters, the situation would have been much worse.
Just under three years from that day, on June 17, 1966, the Monroe County Airport Fire Fighters Association was officially chartered as Local Number 1636 in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Since that time, the Monroe County Airport has seen substantial growth and become known as the Greater Rochester International Airport, while our Union has grown to its current level of 21 active members.
Following the June 2018 Supreme Court decision in Janus vs AFSCME, all 21 of our members signed new cards and reaffirmed their commitment to our Union. In doing so, our association made it clear to the County of Monroe that we would not be swayed by the anti-union agenda being pushed by those who would like to see workers fractured and powerless to negotiate not only wages and benefits, but also safer working conditions and appropriate equipment to do our jobs.