Our History

For 70 years, Local 1159 has worked to promote workers’ right and secure their standard of living while promoting government efficiency and providing fire protection and emergency services to Clackamas County residents. Our local chapter of the International Association of Fire Fighters was a significant player in securing collective bargaining rights in the early 1970s and has continued to be a leader in collaboration and innovation in the face of changing work models, while keeping foremost the goal of public service.

Our 300 members come from five fire departments covering a 400-square-mile area with 275,000 residents. As the county’s population has boomed, consolidation has led to service efficiencies – more boots on the ground and fewer chiefs.

The local was chartered on April 9, 1954, with 35 members from fire departments covering Lake Oswego, Milwaukie, Oregon City and unincorporated Clackamas County. It was one of the first locals in the country to represent multiple fire departments, a significant accomplishment. Progressive leaders, such as James Kirchhoffer and Gurnie Wiles of Clackamas rural and Harold Koenig of Oregon City, overcame the competition that traditionally exists among fire departments to join together for the common good.

The Oregon Legislature in 1953 had passed a law granting all public employees the right to meet and confer. In the late 1950s, a firefighter in the county made $275 per month for a 24-on, 24-off schedule. As departments grew and working conditions needed improvements, more firefighters looked to union membership. Local 1159’s leaders sought an audience collectively with their employers on wage and time-worked issues.

Member Agencies

Election Endorsements

Local 1159 endorse the State and Local Representatives below. We feel they share the same labor rights, leadership and values of Local 1159.

State Representatives

Local Representatives

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