International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) President Emeritus Alfred Whitehead passed away September 4. He was 91 years old.
The California native served on the MTD Executive Board for 15 years. He was a merchant mariner during World War II.
MTD President Michael Sacco recalled the bond that existed with Whitehead and the department, “He was proud of the fact that he sailed. He was steady and dependable. We could always count on him.”
Following the war, the Army veteran held several jobs, including as an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers apprentice lineman. He became a Los Angeles County fire fighter in 1954 and joined IAFF Local 1014. By 1970, he was the local’s president.
In 1981, he was elected IAFF secretary-treasurer, implementing a budget program for the international. Seven years later, Whitehead was elected president, serving until his retirement in 2000. He is credited with raising the union’s activism, promoting line-of-duty death investigations and presumption of job-related cancers. He also was instrumental in union’s famous Labor Day “Fill the Boot” campaign to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
IAFF President (and MTD Executive Board Member) Edward Kelly stated, “The IAFF is as strong and robust as it is today because President Whitehead tirelessly fought for our members every single day.”