Franklin firefighters have voted to join the International Association of Fire Fighters, becoming the most recent area municipal department to possibly seek some protections from the umbrella of organized labor.
While not yet a bargaining unit, City Building Inspector and shop steward Chuck Bodein confirmed the 13 full-time members, excluding Fire Chief Scott Clarenbach and Deputy Chief David Scott, are paying union dues.
"We are aligning ourselves with a large group in our profession," Bodein said. "We support an organization that is looking out for our retirement benefits."
Unions are not new to the city of Franklin — the Franklin Police and Public Works employees have been organized for years and there are three unions within the Franklin-Hill School District.
Aligning with the IAFF does not mean the Franklin jakes are forming a bargaining unit, nor are they seeking a contract at this time.
To form a bargaining unit, the group must file its intent to do so with the New Hampshire Public Employees Labor Relation Board, at which time the city, should it chose to, can challenge the union's composition but not its right to organize.
The New Hampshire Professional Fire Fighters Association, which is the New Hampshire arm of the IAFF, is the same organization the Tilton-Northfield firefighters joined last year and to which Gilford is also a member — both as organizations only.
Capt. Brad Ober of the Tilton-Northfield Firefighters said belonging to the IAFF is more than about money.
"They offer training classes and information sessions," Ober said, echoing Bodein.
Ober said last week they are "educating themselves on the process" [of becoming a bargaining unit] but have not yet made that decision.