Fire chiefs in the State of Iowa have met for many years to discuss issues in the fire service. Although it is not known when they began meeting, some documentation does exist. The first documented information relates to some of the professional chiefs serving on the Fire Service Education Committee during 1928. Their goals were aimed at improving the proficiency of fire service personnel. Throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s it is assumed that the professional chiefs met to exchange ideas and information, however there is little documentation.
In 1951 Mr. Keith Royer, a young educator at Iowa State University, began to provide valuable information to the professional chiefs in Ames, Iowa. Keith stressed the need for the chiefs to meet and consider various goals directed at improving Iowa’s fire service. Some of their concerns at this time related to the organization of the State Fire Marshal’s Office, the pension system changes from 410 to 411, and implementation of the Fire Service Building in Ames. The professional fire Chiefs that actively participated during the 1950’s included: Harold Nelson of Clinton, Les Schick of Davenport, Tom Hickson of Dubuque, Charles Slade of Des Moines, Waldo Merrill of Council Bluffs, Boyd Arnold of Mason City, Harold Stanton of Storm Lake, and Emil Kohout of Cedar Rapids. The meetings during the 1950’s were held only when it was necessary to discuss important issues.
In the early to middle 1960’s the professional chiefs met quarterly. Chief Bob Dunphy (Dubuque) was active at this time and provided much of the leadership to the meetings. Keith Royer and his staff generally determined the agenda for each meeting. Keith and his instructors conducted various sessions at the meetings. During the early 1960’s a committee of professional chiefs met with the governor to offer support for the Fire Marshal’s Office. During the later years in the 1960’s attendance and interest in the meetings seemed to decline and meetings were reduced to two per year. At each conference thereafter one fire chief was assigned to formulate the meeting and serve as moderator. During 1967 an advisory committee of profession fire chiefs worked for and supported the construction of the Fire Service Extension Building in Ames.
During the early 1970’s the fire chiefs began to discuss formal organization of their group to better take actions, make decisions and to effect positive changes for the fire service. It was believed that a more formal organization would have a stronger impact. It was originally suggested that the professional fire chiefs become a special section of the Iowa Fire Chiefs Association and that did occur in a fashion. The professional chiefs still thought their organization should be independent of other chief entities, but they functioned this way for a time. They continued to use the “moderator” system through the 1970’s.
On October 3, 1980 at their fall conference the Iowa Association of Professional Fire Chiefs was formally organized. The primary purpose of the organization was to provide this segment of the fire service appropriate representation in statewide fire service policy matters and legislative actions. Officers of the newly organized I.A.P.F.C. included: President Bob Dunphy, Vice President Bill Ell, Sec/Treas. Bob Keating, Director Norm Elgin and Director Ron Van Horn. At the spring conference in 1981 the moderator system was discontinued and the President of the association then conducted formal business meetings. Minutes and actions of the meetings were formally recorded. Business of the association has continued in this manner to this date.