History of the Oklahoma State Firefighters Women's Auxiliary
In the town of Blackwell at the 33rd Firefighters' convention, June 1927, Mrs. Charles Slemp met with 20 ladies from various cities throughout the state. But it wasn't until June 27, 1928 at the 34th convention that things started forming.
In 1928, the convention was held in Muskogee and on that Wednesday afternoon there was discussion of the possibility of organizing a Women's Auxiliary to the Oklahoma State Fireman's Association and a committee was appointed to go to the Fireman's Association so they could become an organization. On Thursday, June 28, the Women's Auxiliary committee appeared before the convention and asked to become affiliated with the firemen and their request was unanimously granted.
During that convention, by-laws were penned, officers elected, and at that time, there were 30 charter members. In 1931 the state pin was designed and accepted. In 1949 the red carnation was designated as the auxiliary flower and in 1959 the first newsletter was sent out. The only time the auxiliary didn't meet was during WWII (1942 - 1946) in conjunction with the Firefighters' Association.
Doris Bunch told me that during the 60's the women wore their Sunday best - lots of hats and gloves. Parliamentary rules were followed closely. Our main rule was to support the firefighters - never to interfere. Since she has been involved, the guys have shown the greatest support for the auxiliary. It wasn't until the last 20 years that the auxiliary proceedings were included in that year's convention book.
The auxiliary has seen changes - ladies dress casual and meetings are less formal. But the purpose is still the same. The auxiliary helps support the burn camp, burn apartment, the Firelighters' Memorial - not just with the money we raise but also with our time. We take care of our own.
The auxiliary gives us (wives, sisters, mothers, etc.) the opportunity to learn about the fire service as we, the auxiliary, learn to be more supportive of OUR guys and to help educate the public on fire prevention. It also creates a sense of camaraderie and friendship, not just with that person but also with their whole family. This means that when someone you've become friends with last year isn't there - you miss them. Just like with the guys, they have a bond; we also have a bond.
Who else would understand what you, a wife, mother, sister or help mate - felt when you looked into that firefighters eyes who told you about their day at the station - from saving the cat in the tree to saving a loved one in a house fire or car accident OR losing someone.
THAT'S WHAT THE AUXILIARY IS ABOUT - SUPPORTING OUR FIREFIGHTERS AS WELL AS OTHER FIREFIGHTERS AND THEIR FAMILIES BECAUSE WE DO HAVE A BOND THAT NO OTHER ORGANIZATION HAS AND WE ARE A FAMILY NOT JUST IN OKLAHOMA BUT ALL OVER THE WORLD BECAUSE ... THAT LOOK IS IN EVERY FIREFIGHTERS EYES.
June 7, 1927 -- At the 33rd Annual OSFA Convention in Okmulgee, 20 ladies from various cities held a meeting for the first time to discuss organizing local auxiliaries throughout the state.
June 1928 -- At the 34th Annual Convention in Blackwell, the ladies attending met again and a motion was made to complete plans for an organization at the next convention.
June 1929 -- At the 35th Annual Convention in Muskogee, the first organized Women's Auxiliary meeting took place. At that time, election of officers was held and By-Laws were submitted and approved.
It is noted that there were thirty (30) charter members.
It was the ambition of this state auxiliary to help in organizing local auxiliaries throughout the state with the following purposes:
- To promote understanding of fire service thus enabling wives to grow in their position of helpmates
- To promote friendship among firefighter's families
- To promote educational and social ideas
- To promote fire prevention
- To promote better public relations
- To raise the standards of the fire department, both active and civic
The OSFA Women's Auxiliary was thus formed and has continued to meet each year since that time, (with the exception of 1942 to 1946 due to World War II) in conjunction with OSFA's Annual Convention. Our state pins were first designed and accepted in 1931. The red carnation was adopted as the auxiliary's flower in 1949. The first newsletter was published in 1959.
Through the years the By-Laws have been updated to keep pace with changing times, however, the main objective has never changed. Our membership has been enlarged to include mothers, sisters,, and daughters of active or retired, volunteer or paid, members of the Oklahoma State Firefighters Association as well as widows of deceased members.